E-ink, e-paper and e-books: technology, business, market


Today most e-books on the market have a 6-inch diagonal with more or less the same resolution of 160-180 ppi. Moreover, the hardware component of readers is also more or less the same: ARM-processor with frequency of 300-400 MHz, 32 and more rarely with 64 MB of RAM. Quite often the same processors are used in books, for instance, in PocketBook 301 and Orsio b721. The amount of embedded memory for storing books and files depends on a model. The champion here is Amazon Kindle with its 2 GB on board. In 6-inch models there is a slot for SD cards as a rule.

In fact the difference between the devices is their design and ergonomic ability. They often influence users choice.

Sonys product has been recognized as the most solid by users. The e-books PRS-505 and PRS-700 produced by Sony are put into a metal body and are provided with a handy cover of high quality. Sony PRS-505 has a rather complex push-button control. PRS-700 is more ergonomic due to its sensor display. However both the models, according to users comments, are comparatively heavy. Slow text update on the screen and not the best navigation are also mentioned as disadvantages. Yet they are among the most prestigious and reliable devices.

Pocketbook 301 and Orsio b721 are good "using-one hand" solutions. A telephone joystick with a central button is the basis of the control system. One can work with a book using only one hand since the weight of the device makes it possible. However inveterate left-handed people feel infringed as operating control is on the right-hand side. Pocketbook 301 is remarkable for its good soft, handy interface and a good working speed. Orsio b721 has gained a bit fewer good comments.

LBook v3 combines advantages and disadvantages of the mentioned above devices. Its rather heavy as well as Sony, but doesnt have that impressive looks. Its ergonomic ability is disputable as well as its working speed. An advantage is the ability to operate a great number of book formats and a comparatively low price. At the same time LBook v3 is one of the most popular e-books in Russia and its users have become devoted fans of the trademark everything is not that bad as it may seem at first sight.

This autumn more compact makes with a 5-inch display have appeared on the market. They can compare with "a hand book" format in its size, where detective stories and novels for women intended for suburban train passengers are issued. Its more convenient to take such a reader with you than a 6-inch make. And the visible area of the screen hasnt been reduced much. The image resolution quality has increased which means that a 5-inch screen with the same resolution of 800x600 has more ppi.

Pocketbook 360 LBook v5 represent 5-inch e-books on the market. Pocketbook 360 has a chamfered shape. The book has proved to be more elegant and sophisticated than the previous one. The researchers preserved a "using-one hand" design. They added two big rewind buttons to the joystick. Alas, but they have become the greatest disadvantage of the good make the key stroke is not always efficiently fixed. The Ukrainians equipped the new reader with accelerometer which enables to change the screen orientation and got rid of MP3-player.

LBook v5 is a reduced variant of LBook v3. it has inherited all the advantages and disadvantages of the bigger book.

On the whole, e-books remain rather specific devices aimed at great fans of reading. Its handier to read from a reader than from a monitor but not that handy as to be ready to pay $300-400 for the pleasure. Only those who spend vast amounts of money on paper books can get compensation. E-book can also be a good gift.

Having tested several e-books of different formats I can say that the handiest are 5-inch models. Classic e-books are very expensive and completely useless devices for those who dont read 2-3 books a week. I dont think its a coincidence that most buyers of readers are IT-specialists who are duty-bound to read many books. Another problem of modern books is that they dont co-operate with book-shops and periodicals. Amazon Kindle has solved this problem for English-speaking customers. Today you download a book from the internet and upload it to your reader which costs $300-400 but it doesnt work fast, its screen is still worse than a printed page, etc.

On the edge of forthcoming feast days season announcements of new readers appear one by one. But one should remember most of them come from American or Asian companies where buying a new book is sponsored by either a book-shop or a mobile operator. The appropriate price level for customers should be considered not $50, as Forrester Research reports, but $200. If e-books cost less than $200 there will be a real reader boom.

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