The once-cozy niche in the cosmos of personal e-book readers, initially carved out in late 2007 by Amazon's Kindle, is steadily expanding. Two of the more attention-worthy devices being introduced during late 2009 and early 2010 are Barnes & Noble’s “Nook" and Intel's “Reader. " What else would anyone expect from two of the most respected and innovative companies in the U. S. ?
Cuddling up with the Nook
In basic substantive ways the Nook operates like other e-readers already on the market, such as the Kindle, its successor, the Kindle 2, and Kindle DX; and Sony’s Touch Edition, Daily Edition, and Pocket Edition Readers. They all use the grayscale E Ink display and have similar fundamental capabilities, although each does have its own particular bells and whistles. What sets the Nook apart is the first-on-the-market full-color e-reader touch screen, which eliminates the need for a keyboard and comprises one-third of its unique front side, which also includes a display screen surrounded by a frame with a user-friendly backward and forward button on each side. The Nook runs Google’s Android OS; and it is the first e-reader to offer an electronic loan option called LendMe, which allows one Nook user to borrow parts of another user’s content for up to two weeks.
Early reviewers of the Nook reported being disappointed in the device’s sluggishness and lack of an intuitive user interface, but they expect any kinks in the software and/or hardware to eventually be worked out, making the Nook a gadget lover’s favorite toy.
Nook sales will receive a powerful boost from the e-reader's availability to customers visiting any of the almost-800 bricks-and-mortar Barnes & Noble bookstores in the U. S. and Canada. In addition, the new device allows users to download the half-million titles in the Google Books library. This is typical for advanced ebook readers and according to the article “Is the Future of Books in Mobile EBook Reading", apart from the range of books offered by Amazon for its Kindle, the Sony Reader also allows you access to a large library of books in the public domain that are therefore free to download (Digital Book Readers). The Nook sells for $259.
The Reader: point, shoot, and listen
The e-reader developed by Intel is in a class by itself. Simply called the Reader, the handheld device is the result of the collaboration of a long-time dyslexic - and frustrated - Intel employee, Intel’s Health division, and health care industry experts. Like its name, the Reader’s concept is also simple: It photographs labels, recipes, printed instructions, signs, flip chart pages, menus, memos, receipts and other smaller print sources, converts the printed text to digital text, then instantly converts the digital text to speech playback for reading-disabled or blind users and also to an over-sized digital display for low-vision users. The user can wear a headset in public places to avoid feeling conspicuous.
The Reader, in turn, has spawned Intel’s Portable Capture Station to enable Reader users to store larger amounts of texts such as chapters from a book or entire books, newspapers, periodicals and lengthy documents. The Portable Capture Station fits into what resembles a small suitcase, and can be set up on a counter or table, and, with the Reader locked into place, hold newspaper and magazine pages and other large documents which the Reader’s camera can then photograph.
Although the Reader’s price tag of about $1,500 is prohibitive to most individuals, the federal government makes funds available to the states so they can offer low-cost loans to those with disabilities for the purchase of assistive technologies. In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act provides grants and loans to schools so they can purchase assistive technologies for their students who require them for scholastic achievement. Intel works with several associations including the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the National Federation of the Blind to make the Reader available where it is needed, and the Reader has been endorsed by the International Dyslexia Association as an important teaching tool.
The Reader is available through a limited number of retailers, which are listed on Intel’s corporate website and include CTL, Don Johnston Incorporated, GTSI, Howard Technology Solutions and HumanWare.
Marco Gustafsson is author of articles on ebook readers, e-inc technology and electronic books. Visit Digital Book Readers to find more information and discover new dimension of reading.