Recommend an e-Reader
August 29, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

With failing eyesight I'm considering an e reader primarily to transfer articles (not necessarily PDFs) from online sources to a reader creating my own electronic magazine. I think I need a reader that will allow enlarging text, has sufficient contrast control to make text darker when necessary. Unfamiliar with any reader, and frustrated by the inability to get hands-on shopping experiences, I wonder what recommendations you might give. The Kindle, available at Amazon for $139, is affordable and currently is front runner.
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can actually try out a Kindle at most Target locations. The same for the Nook at Barnes and Noble and Best Buy for Sony's eReader.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:38 AM on August 29, 2010

As far as contrast goes, the new Kindle is supposed to be pretty remarkable. I saw a display of the previous model at Target yesterday and was amazed at the difference in contrast between that and the Nook and Sony models that I'd looked at previously. And the new model's improved on that as well as the page refresh rate to a really impressive point.

My Target had a sign posted that said they would have the new model in stock in September, so it's likely that once they do, you could get a hands-on experience at Target, if you have one nearby. They also have the Sony Readers on display, but the ones in my store had broken screens so I wasn't actually able to do a side-by-side comparison. Barnes and Noble also usually has a Nook on display, but the interface was pretty clunky, in my opinion.

If you want to see a comparison between the second and third generations of the Kindle, there's a pretty good video on the Amazon page right now. At the $139 price point, I think a lot of people are going to buy in--and I'll probably be one of them.
posted by miratime at 7:43 AM on August 29, 2010

My legally-blind coworker *loves* his kindle.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:48 AM on August 29, 2010

I have a kindle (the newer of the white ones) and it's wonderful. You can change the screen font from micro to huge, change the word spacing and margin spacing, rotate the screen to any side (great for propping up on a table with the case) and it has great contrast. I've heard the newest one has better contrast and faster page turns, etc.
Plus books are usually cheap to come by and once you get on the kindle you can put it on android phones, iphones, ipods, ipads, on your pc, everywhere they make the kindle software at no extra cost.
posted by msbutah at 7:52 AM on August 29, 2010

I have the Kindle 2 and absolutely love it. I now read faster than before and I love being able to carry a large number of books with me at one time. As has been mentioned, it's easy to make the text super-huge and the contrast is great. It's easy to get "lost" in it and forget you're using an electronic device. Also, since it uses E-Ink, your eyes won't get tired as they might looking at an LCD screen. They just added a "collections" feature where you can create a sort of custom bookshelf and divide by genre, author, etc, any sort of method by which you'd like to sort your books.

At $139 for the Wi-Fi version, the Kindle 3 sounds like a great deal and is supposed to have even better contrast. They've just released a couple of word game "apps" as well for free download - I think one is sort of like the TextTwist game online.

On the other hand, I don't have much experience with the Nook/Sony reader/Kobi/etc, so they may be equally as cool, but I've definitely been happy with the Kindle.
posted by 1901gunner at 8:02 AM on August 29, 2010

visual impairments vary greatly, but I will give you my experience.

I am legally blind and struggle with contrast. I am unable to read print on paper not due to font size but contrast.

I opted for an iPad and could not be happier. I have control over contrast and brightness, access to the kindle and iBook store and best of all accessibility features built into the os.

So i am able to zoom in or change to White on black at will. Voice over is also fantastic.

Feel free to me mail for more info.
posted by moochoo at 8:03 AM on August 29, 2010

In the ereader world right now, there is nothing better than the Kindle 3. Sony has some new readers announced though that could be interesting.
posted by lakerk at 8:06 AM on August 29, 2010

Response by poster: Will it be possible to put web-based articles collected on my Mac Book Pro on to the Kindle 3? I collect them now using Readability and print them, but hope to just be able to transfer onto a reader, looks like Kindle 3. Will I be able to do that? Will I need cables or other equipment?
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 9:53 AM on August 29, 2010

What format does Readability output? Calibre can convert various formats to Kindle (and any other reader) compatible formats.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:32 AM on August 29, 2010

One thing to point out about the Kindle: you can't control the contrast levels (which is an option you asked for in your question). You'd need an iPad to do that, but then you have to contend with LCD screen eye-strain.

That being said, I LOVE my Kindle 2. The contrast is excellent (and supposedly better on the Kindle3), you can change the font sizes, and the brighter the lighting, the better the contrast...

Just be warned that on a white Kindle, if you're reading in VERY bright light the bright white of the case will actually give you a case of snow-blindness. I make a point of not sitting in direct sunlight when reading because of this. I figure this won't be an issue with the graphite colored case of the Kindle3.
posted by matty at 10:53 AM on August 29, 2010

The Kindles at Target, at least the ones I've seen, are in "demo" mode: you can't really see a page turn or what the browser or any real books look like. And looking at their demo in their store probably isn't going to tell you what you want to know. But this page on Amazon's site says "You can return any Kindle you purchased directly from for a full refund within 30 days of the day you received it as long as it is in new condition and in accordance with our return policy." I have a similar issue with failing eyesight and less and less ability to read comfortably, and am planning to get the Kindle 3 and see how I like it. I've always found Amazon very good about taking returns and while the 'new condition' is a little ambiguous, I'm betting I can get a full refund if I'm not entirely happy with it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:45 PM on August 29, 2010

Instapaper has Kindle support, and provides similar features to Readability, but targeted to reading on-screen or on other devices.
posted by dttocs at 2:59 PM on August 29, 2010

I love my iRex DR800S but it's expensive and iRex is having some financial troubles.
posted by alby at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2010

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