By Charly SHELTON
It’s time for back to school, and for those of us who have to buy our books, it’s time to pay. Books for college can cost hundreds of dollars and, after that, you have to carry around the big heavy textbooks from class to class. How do we make this simpler? eReader. It is no bigger than a magazine, and it can hold several books in its memory, and then download any others via Wi-Fi or 3G. And best of all, eTextbooks are cheaper.
Take textbooks, novels, and even comic books with you wherever you go. Yes, this technology is a step in the Star Trek direction, and though Captain Kirk preferred real books, these eReaders may well become as commonplace as a cellphone or an iPod in the near future.
There are three major eReader brands – The Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, and the Sony Reader.
The Kindle (starting at $139) is slimmer than a No. 2 pencil, has a battery life of one month on a single charge, can store 3500 books, comes with free 3G coverage to shop for books, and even share meaningful passages through Facebook and Twitter, and it will even read the book to you via Text-to-Speech software. It can be found at Amazon.com/kindle.
The Sony Reader (starting at $149) is not as light, but just as slim as the Kindle, and this can download newspapers, and
even borrow ebooks from your local library. The internal memory is small (512 MB) but it has a slot for memory card expansion up to 16GB. But
there is no 3G, there is a shorter battery, and all around this one seems to be less amazing for more money. It can be found at sonystyle.com.
Then there is the Barnes and Noble Nook (starting at $149). This one is my favorite, and probably the one this reporter will be using for school in the fall. It has over one million titles in the bookstore, thousands of free books (many of the classics are free) and it allows you to lend books to friends who have the Nook as well. It is the thickest and heaviest one of the bunch, but it is the only one to have a color touchscreen cover flow of books to choose from, has an expandable microSD slot, and holds music to listen to while you read. But even better than that – for students, there is an application called Nook Study for the computer. No need to purchase a Nook, just a download on its own (though a laptop is less portable and easy to use than a Nook). It allows you to have several ebooks open at once. So when you are writing your term paper, or finishing assigned reading, or cramming for a test you totally blanked on as you are walking to class late (as I usually do), you can have the laptop open with all your course books available for reference, just as you would with real books.
No more closing one file and opening another. This feature alone is enough for this reporter to invest in this product. The Nook and the Nook Study application can be found (for Windows and Mac) at barnesandnoble.com/nook.