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What Is an E-Reader?

Digital books, magazines, and newspapers may be read using an e-reader.
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  • Written By: Hillary Flynn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An e-reader is an electronic reading device used to view books, magazines, and newspapers in a digital format. It is wireless, portable, and allows readers to tote personal libraries everywhere they go. Most e-readers can store several hundred e-books, or electronic books, that cost somewhat less than printed formats. Customers are also able to subscribe to electronic versions of newspapers and magazines, and textbook publishers are beginning to offer textbooks in formats that allow students to access them via e-readers. Some customers can also access their public library through their reader so they may browse and check out e-books.

E-reader size ranges from about six inches (15.2 cm) to nine inches (22.9 cm) long and screens may be controlled either by buttons or by a touchscreen. The best e-readers have e-ink electronic paper displays that are intended to replicate the look of a printed page. Electronic paper screens are much easier to read than the liquid crystal displays (LCD) found on other electronic devices such as computer monitors and personal digital assistant (PDA) displays. This is achieved with the use of millions of black and white microcapsules that create a high contrast, high resolution display that minimizes eyestrain.

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E-books or other electronic materials can be loaded by connecting the e-reader to a computer, or in the case of the most high end e-readers, by connecting to an site directly through the e-reader. Memory size varies and is directly related to the price. The cheapest e-readers will have the lowest level of memory, which is about 512 megabytes (MB), and the more expensive devices will have up to two gigabytes (GB). However, even with the smallest amount of memory, an e-reader can hold about 200 books. The readers with the largest memories can hold several thousand books. Every e-reader will support different file formats, but all support portable document format (PDF) and text file format.

Two of the most popular e-reader manufacturers are Sony Corporation and Amazon, but other technology companies, such as ASUS and Marvell, are embracing the digital book trend and developing e-readers of their own. This benefits the consumer because each company is working on new features that make the next generation e-readers even more handy than the original devices. Some future options e-reader customers may find are flexible screens, accelerated display of high-resolution PDF files, zero power mode, and a wider range of display sizes.

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