A slave to the charger – a report on e-readers and e-audio.

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Post by Claire 

Time after time I have heard our borrowers say that e-readers are wonderful when travelling.  No more lugging around multiple books.  No frantic searching in non-English bookshops for a Wordworth’s classic book as that is the only thing they’ll have in English.  It’s all there in the e-reader ready to go.

So on a recent trip to Darwin I decided to give it a go and I borrowed the work e-reader (KOBO) loaded up with 4 books, and packed a few pairs of shoes now that my luggage wasn’t going to be weighed down by books.  I got my son’s IPod touch and loaded it up with e-audio books.  We were ready.

It is at this point that I should point out that my family are luddites.  Well maybe not my 8 ½ year old son, but my husband and I definitely are.  I don’t own a mobile, and hubby only now does because he started a business after years of home duties (I haven’t had to wash a load of washing in I don’t know how long.  Jealous?)  We have a desktop computer as I study, and my son only has a IPod because at Christmas he lamented that all his cousins had an IPod, why didn’t he? Queue softhearted Grandma and a birthday several weeks later, and voila, I’m swearing on the phone to the Apple help line because I can’t get the damn thing to work.  “No, we are not getting freakin’ Wi-Fi!”  I want to control my son’s access to the internet thank you very much.  So we are not exactly awash with technology in our house.

So it was quite a shock to find that we spent our entire holiday hunting for a power point to charge our devices.  An e-book reader, IPod, phone, electric toothbrush and camera.  How did this happen? I didn’t realise that the e-reader would run out of charge so quickly – I think it lasted about 5 hours.  When we flew up to Darwin, we had a few hours in the airport, the flight, and as I settled into bed for a quick read before falling asleep at 3.00am I noticed that the readers charge was low.  Quickly I jumped out of bed and plugged it in.  What I didn’t notice the black switch beside the outlet so the reader didn’t charge overnight, so no reading in the morning either.  Horror!  Nothing to read!

Which leads to the question what happens if you are on a 24 hour flight to Europe?  Or don’t people read as much as me.  Kindles last for longer – the standard model says 1 month of battery life, but you can’t borrow library books on a Kindle.  But there is no doubt that the battery length is an important factor when buying an e-reader or note pad.  With my Kobo I could access the internet and do other things with it.    With a paper book all the energy has been expended in production and you don’t see it.  Making the paper, running the printing presses, the guillotines, the binders.  With an e-book the energy responsibility passes on to you the reader, and it can be confronting.

But were there advantages.  Of course there were.  As previously mentioned you don’t have to lug books around.  Because the reader is back lit, there was no need for bedside lights – a great feature in our little mini campervan, and surprisingly enough in the so-called 5-star Hilton, where apparently 5-star only means a bedside light on one side of the bed.  (Who fits out these places?)  My husband loved the feature where it switches off if you haven’t turned the page for a while – i.e. you’ve fallen asleep.  There have been many nights when he’s had to turn off my bedside light as I’ve fallen asleep.  Sometimes this has the bad effect of waking me up, so I have to read again to get to sleep…    It meant I didn’t have to turn on a light in the middle of the night if I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I could adjust the light setting to suit the ambient light – very handy in N.T’s strong sun.  Another handy feature not listed in the brochures, is that when we were in the campervan and   we needed to get up in the night to take my son to the toilet, we could use the e-reader as an impromptu torch.

My son loved the e-audio – no flicky cds, and I did a good job on choosing the books.  He particularly love Once upon a slime and laughed uproariously nearly all the way to Darwin – a problem as it was the middle of the night and people were trying to sleep.  I used Borrowbox, as I was testing it out.  As I don’t have Wi-fi at home (see above) I used the library’s Wi-fi and it took AGES.  I would have been better to load via my computer, but we live and learn.  Once it was downloaded however, it was a breeze.

So charging aside, I liked the e-reader for holidays.  If I was going on a long trip, I would seriously consider buying a kindle e-reader to avoid the whole recharging malarkey.  However that would mean I have to buy books, or read classics, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  But for my day-to-day reading, I’ll stick with the library thanks.  It’s cheap, easy and you’ll never know what you might find as you roam through the shelves.
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4 thoughts on “A slave to the charger – a report on e-readers and e-audio.

  1. Strange about the KOBo needing such frequent charging. I’ve been reading an ebook a day on my kobo over the last 4 weeks and have charged it once during that time.

  2. The new A380 planes are reputedly fitted with a power point at each seat – so yay! for the long haul flight. I think in the modern world charging is just part of life. It becomes like brushing your teeth. You would not consider going to bed or, indeed, out and about without doing it. When travelling overseas, I would also advise packing a power-board otherwise you are stuck with you single plug a adapter and multiple devices.

    But then again – I’m seriously addicted. 🙂

  3. I’m also surprised you had to charge the KOBO so much, I very rarely charge my e-reader, even when profusely reading. Maybe the WIFI settings were on?

  4. I suspect you had the Kobo Vox. It is more of a pseudo tablet and has an LCD screen rather than e-ink screen like kindles and the cheaper Kobo which uses far less power and therefore have a much longer battery life. As you correctly figured out, it does more than a basic ereader bet that comes at the cost of battery life. It’s also considerably heavier than the cheaper Kobo.

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