Which E-Reader should you choose?

Which E-Reader should you choose?

At first glance it appears the only logical answer would be to choose a device from the Kindle range. After all, Amazon now reportedly has 70% of the e-book market. Despite this there is still a range of alternatives. The decision now may not hinge on which model has the best technology inside, but the one that comes in at the right price with acceptable functionality.


First off the bat it should be made clear that for pure capabilities it seems that the Kindle Voyage has further stretched Amazon’s lead in the tech stakes. It comes with 300dpi and is crammed with lots of Amazon features like X-Ray, Vocabulary Builder, Page Flip (allowing you to skim forward without losing your place), Whispersync and a whole load of other neat features, many of which are present in other Kindle models. The Voyage comes in a hefty price compared to its competition, £229 for the 3G model, which places it as the Apple priced product in the e-reader world.

Book lovers aren’t sheeple like fans of Apple products. Undoubtedly, some will buy the Voyage just to have the latest model; most will look at value for money. The arrival of the Voyage has brought the price of the other E-ink Kindles crashing. The entry model is now £49, the Paperwhite from £99. It’s these that we’ll compare to the competition, namely the Paperwhite.

It comes with a backlight, so bedtime reading is made easy, and has many of the features that the Voyage has, like the Vocabulary Builder. The integration with the Kindle store is seamless, and when navigating through the device’s books, options, highlighting passages, checking words and Wikipedia, it is smooth. Any lag is barely noticeable, and forgivable with the neat presentation. The Paperwhite does everything asked of it and avoids criticism. When you consider the Kindle store rules the marketplace, and the device itself beats the competition point-on-point, it’s the safe choice.

Being tied to the Kindle Store needn’t mean you have to use a Kindle. I would never encourage piracy, authors need all the sales they can get to ensure the future of books, but I believe e-books, like MP3s, should be purchased from anywhere to be used on whatever device we choose. Calibre is an e-book library manager, think iTunes interface without the store, that with certain plug-ins allows DRM to be removed from books. It also converts the type of format, so Kindle’s KF8 can be changed to ePub for use on Nook devices. It’s worth noting to remove the DRM you’ll need to load it from a Kindle device, mobile apps do not count, it has to be from an e-reader.

This brings us to the Barnes and Noble option. The Nook GlowLight offers a backlight like the Kindle Paperwhite. It comes in at £69, making it £30 cheaper, even after Amazon’s price cuts. A side-by-side tech comparison and you’d think the devices were pretty much identical. I initially used the GlowLight after using an old Kindle Keyboard and it felt like a step-up. And for some time there was a feeling it was a more pleasant reading experience than the Paperwhite. Until the gloss started to fade. The backlight technology is better executed on the Kindle and never once on any Kindle device has formatting been an issue. The same can’t be said for the GlowLight, sometimes it feels scrappy around the edges. However, at a third cheaper, it is a strong option, but being trapped in the Nook ecosystem could cost you more in the long run.

Kobo are the other main company out there. They offer a waterproof device that will appeal to those accident prone, bath-time readers or beach-bound holiday types. This feature, the first in the e-reader world, gives the Kobo Aura H2O a unique selling point. It also beats the Paperwhite on resolution and dpi. Again, the main negative will be the exclusion from the Kindle store, although the Kobo store is regularly priced competitively. It’s another device in the Kobo range I’ll draw your gaze to. The Kobo Mini.

Unlike other readers, this one aims small, not trying to sell spec but size. It has an 800MHz processor compared to Kobo Glo’s 1GHz and lower resolution. It is featureless in comparison to the Paperwhite. Yet, none of this matters.  It’s able enough for simply reading books. The latest update has given it a snappier main menu screen. It plays, amongst others, both ePub and mobi formats. And it fits easily in a coat pocket. Whereas one may be too precious with a more expensive e-reader, the Kobo Mini can be taken on train journeys or the daily commute without a care in the world.

Kindle Nook Covers

It’s here where the device holds a special advantage. Mobile reading apps are okay but the average smart phone drains battery fast without spending hours reading on them. The Mini can make any journey or lunch break pass without a fear of losing or damaging hundreds of pounds worth of equipment, whilst saving your phone’s battery. Even on the lowest page refresh rate it never shows its lack of power. Officially priced at £59.99, bargains can be found. I got mine for £30, including £10 store credit. Its discreet size may appeal over larger devices, that invariably you’ll buy a case for (the Nook case looks like a traditional book but is more cumbersome, the Kindle fits snug but the official cover is priced at £25).

Ultimately the main choices come down to: raw power and features, this is the domain of the Kindle Voyage or the Kobo Aura H2O. If you don’t need waterproofing then the undisputed winner is the Voyage. For an overall experience, at a reasonable price, the Paperwhite has no equal. You’ll be using the world’s main e-book library on a device that gives a flawless experience. The Paperwhite is the safe and sound choice. If you care little for the extra features and only need one for daily trips on a tram, train or bus, the small Kobo Mini might be the one for you.


More than just Leftovers

More than just Leftovers

The Leftovers starts with the premise that 140 million people have vanished from Earth. Going into the show, knowing this, one wonders why such a rapture event has taken place. It soon becomes evident that the people left behind are the focus, not the event itself. The stage switches to one small area, the fictional Mapletown, New York. Their loss creates our philosophical gain. It’s not a case of why the souls were taken, but how those that remain cope.

It should be pointed out that The Leftovers may dangle the mystery of the missing people, and furthers the unknowns by various presumed supernatural elements, however, the show doesn’t exist to answer these things. The missing 140 million is a plot device, a side issue that requires no further explanation. To do so would undermine the journey the characters take. There have been criticisms levelled at the lack of resolution, these viewers have missed the heart of the tale.

Some of these disenchanted voices have probably readied the Damon Lindelof put downs. These are the ones that hated the Lost finale and how questions remained throughout that show’s six season run. Other than his input to both shows they bear no comparison. Lost required closure on the great unknowns, The Leftoversnever promises this. This show is about examining the human condition. Any show that is dealing with existentialism doesn’t need to feed the mainstream gimmick of dropping clues and offering weak replies. It can leave that to Under the Dome (great book, bad show).

Mentioning another popular show from a literary source, it should be noted that the author of the original novel (also entitled The Leftovers) Tom Perrotta, worked alongside Lindelof to create the show. The first season covers the entire novel so season two will be new material, and again, he is heavily influencing this. It’s refreshing to see the source material being used extensively.

The depth in the writing is brought about by an excellent cast. Christopher Eccleston once again proves his vast range as the town’s man of faith who attempts to prove the people taken in the sudden departure were sinners. Watching him wrestle with faith compliments the show’s main centrepiece, the cult named the Guilty Remnant. They are silent watchers, heavy smokers, and easy to despise pests. In forming this opinion it makes one wonder about the real world situation the metaphor represents. Why do we hate the unknown element? Some of their actions appear unforgivable but nobody is coping with the loss the world has suffered.


Justin Theroux plays the shows lead, and town Chief of Police. His wife has left to join the cult and his son is running errands for the Peep Show’s Johnson, who is a spiritual leader of sorts. His already full plate is further filled by a rebellious daughter and a father, the former Chief of Police, that has been committed for mental illness. This in turn makes him fear his mind is also on the slide. He starts to date Carrie Coon’s character, Nora Durst, a mother of two whose whole family was taken in the disappearance. Her character centric episode reveals the great depth she has as an actress and the writers’ efforts to layer her.

These are just several standouts of a stellar cast. Each keeps the show rolling forward with grit, pain, and precision. They aren’t used to answer the question of why the rapture event took place, we just accept the Pope and J-Lo were taken as easily as the select members of the town, they do make us examine where the world is heading. Hopefully season two will continue to explore these leftovers rather than explain the ones that departed. There are some mysteries that should remain beyond man. All we can do is look internally to see what we find there.