What do all those terms you see in ereader reviews actually mean? The world of ereaders and ebooks has developed its own secret language over the few years that they have been in existence, and many of you reasonably enough have trouble with what they actually mean.
Not all of us are serious computer buffs in fact, and are simply interested to know if a particular ereader or ebook is what we are looking for, and I gather from my mail bag, loads of you struggle with the whole pile of “in terms” that have grown up around these devices.
So, in the spirit of helpfulness, I shall endeavour to translate some of the most common terms you will come across when looking at ereader or ebook specifications.
So here we go………………..
A portable electronic device that is designed specifically for you to read ebooks (see “ebook” below) and nothing much more.
An electronic book designed to be read on an ereader, similar to any document you would read on a computer. These can be read on ereaders, tablets or computers.
Generally larger than ereaders, and also much more complex, basically all tablets (iPad, Galaxy and so on) are in fact computers built into a simple flat box, thus the term ‘tablet” as with the Biblical “tablets”. Highly portable computers in fact.
Tablets are only interesting if you wish to do much more than simply read electronic books – they cost much more than ereaders.
Generally ereaders will either have monochrome (black and white) screens or coloured screens. For simply reading ebooks monochrome screens are far and away the best, (see e-ink screens below) as they work well in bright light, such as sunlight on the beach. Coloured screens which are mostly the same as those on modern computers, give beautiful colour, but suffer from visibility problems in bright light, and consume a lot more battery power than monochrome screens do.
This refers to how long you can use your device between battery charges. In the case of monochrome E-Ink screens this is typically measured in weeks, in the case of coloured screens, this is always a matter of hours, typically 4 to 8 hours between charging the batteries.
This is a screen system that works with very small spheres which are white on one side and black on the other. And by some clever technology, these spheres rotate to show either the black or white side at need,
This is short for applications, and basically refers to any small piece of very specialised computer software that is intended to carry out one or two functions only.
In ereader terms, these are used to enable you to read ebooks from different ebook sellers on computers or tablets. So if you wish to read an ebook purchased from say, Kobo on a iPad, you would get hold of the Kobo App and instal it on your iPad and thus be able to read ebooks from Kobo.
Typically Apps are free or very cheap to buy, but only needed if you use a tablet or computer to read ebooks with. Any ereader, such as a Kindle or Kobo will work without any Apps, and in fact with most ereaders it is not possible to install them.
This will be built in memory or extra memory, using little memory cards (SSD) which you can purchase separately and place into slots on the ereader case.
Generally it is not necessary to buy this extra memory, as real ebooks are generally very small in computer terms, so with any ereader, its internal memory (the amount of memory built into it) will be enough to store hundreds of ebooks.
Ebooks are created in one of many different formats, which basically means (without going into any technicalities) you will only be able to read any ebook on your ereader if it (the ereader) is able to show you ebooks in that particular format. The most widely used of these formats is called e-Pub, and is the one that almost all ereaders will work with (the Kindle from Amazon won’t work with e-Pub formatted ebooks however, they have their own format – which means that you have to buy your ebooks from Amazon if you have a Kindle ereader.).
So it is very important for you to make sure that any ebooks you buy will work on your ereader – see its handbook for a list of which formats will work on it.
This is a very contentious thing just now, what it means is Digital Rights management, which is a pompous way of saying copyright protection, and is aimed at stopping people from making copies of their ebooks and selling them to all and sundry, thus defrauding the publisher and author of their just financial rewards.
So it is important that when choosing an ereader that you find out how it works with DRM protection – ask the sales person, or if it is an online shop, check that it works with DRM protected ebooks.
Elsewhere on this blog you will find posts that go into considerable detail about the whole DRM issue and how it works. It is a complex subject, and a real nuisance too.
Frankly not really very important for most of us. This is the main component of the ereader, as in a computer, the chip that actually drives the whole thing along. Obviously important for techies, but for us who simply wish to read ebooks, not really significant, as almost all ereaders produced at about the same time will have more or less equal processors in them.
Also not important for ebook readers, it really makes no difference to you if the thing works with Android, or some other operating system. So ignore this in the specifications.
This is important, as the higher the resolution (the more of those little spheres or picture points per square centimeter the sharper the letters you are reading.
Also important, when choosing your ereader it is important to know if you simply wish to read novels on it, or intend to read newspapers and magazines as well. For novels, small (6 inch for example) is fine, but for reading stuff with pictures, then bigger is better.
WiFi or 3G connectivity:
These mean that you can connect your ereader to either the internet through a wireless link or via the mobile phone system, rather than having to do it all via your computer. A real benefit for finding and downloading ebooks, and something that Amazon with their Kindle have got beautifully organised.
So, there are a few or those mysterious terms explained -I hope! If you come across other bits of jargon relating to ereaders or ebooks, and haven’t a clue what they might mean, or if they might actually be significant for you in making purchasing decisions, just drop me a line here and I shall happily explain them to you in fine detail, and this is the best part, at no cost to you as well! Good eh?