Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It makes phone calls, too.

As the eReader war heats up, I've been reflecting on my own eBook experience. Since I reviewed the Kindle here in June, I haven't used the device nearly as much as I hoped I would. For the most part, the e-reader has been gathering dust on my nightstand (I have to keep reminding myself not to set my glass of water on it).

It's not all Kindle's fault, though. I just happened to possess a trio of excellent paper books (Motherless Brooklyn, Legends of the Fall and Beat the Reaper) and I wanted to get through them before buying anything new. Now I'm out of intriguing paper books. I'm going to Michigan for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I plan to bring the Kindle with me. The e-reader was made for times like this: I need a new book to read, but don't have time to get one before I leave, so I'll just take the entire bookstore with me and decide on the plane. Welcome to the future.

Speaking of eReaders, yesterday I finally tried something I've been thinking about for months. I read a book on my iPhone. I was violently opposed to the idea just on principle (what's next, brushing my teeth with an iPhone?). But since everyone else is doing it, it can't be that bad, right? Turns out it isn't. Actually, it's alarmingly good.

It's not as easy on the eyes as e-ink (say that ten times fast), but the crisp, auto-dimming screen that we've grown to love for everything else on earth is quite good for reading, too. I used the Kindle App, which is free and lets you sync your Amazon e-books to your iPhone. Now, I wouldn't use it as my primary e-reader, but if I was stuck in line and didn't have reading material with me, the iPhone would be more than adequate.

And I love the page-turning feature. You just click the side of screen, or even better, flick it with your thumb like you would a piece of paper. And there's no micro-delay between pages, which is one of the main complaints of e-readers; they "blink" for just a fraction of a second between pages, while redistributing the e-ink, or something.

Just like any e-reader, the iPhone feels weird at first, but after a few pages you're fully into the story, and you forget that you're reading on a 3-inch screen. Of course, you'll also forget you're reading altogether when your book rings.

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