Friday, May 21, 2010

Six Alternatives to the Kindle

I'm an avid reader, and travel abroad regularly. During my time in Guatemala, one of the things I missed the most was my public library. Each week, I checked out an average of fourteen books. Not all of these were read in their entirety, but I loved having the option of doing so.

In Guatemala, there was a used bookstore, but books were costly (around $4 for a book I'd read within a day or two). This may not seem like a lot, but I was only earning $2.75 an hour. I did frequent book exchanges, which are often found in youth hostels and language schools. I spread the word that I was looking for English books, and sometimes had used copies passed on to me after their recipient had finished. I traded books with other foreigners, but it still was not enough.

Which is why I am seriously looking into ebook readers, such as the Amazon Kindle and the Sony PRS 505. I am also considering investing in a mini laptop to convert into an ebook reader (amid other things---a webcam optimized phone call server and a web surfer). This article teaches you how to convert a cheap Acer Aspire One.

The only downside of a converted laptop is eye strain and a low battery life. This might be ameliorated by purchasing a nine cell battery (to replace a six cell), which would increase the battery life greatly. The eye strain? I guess it would just be something I would have to put up with.

There are other options, if you have an iPhone or an iPod touch. An article at PC Magazine will tell you how to use these devices as free eReaders. Since I lack either device, I'm out of luck on this front. Besides, the print would have to be tiny (or involve a lot of page downs)!

I'm going to shop around. Maybe I can find a good deal on an eReader!

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