How does an expensive e-book differ from a cheap one?

E-books are popular because reading is new knowledge and entertainment combined in one small device. Moreover, it weighs less than any book and takes up about the same space as an ordinary book. The range of prices in stores is quite large. For example, “reading rooms” with a 6-inch screen can be bought for both 5-6 thousand rubles and 15-20. What is the difference between them, and is it worth paying the extra money? Let’s figure it out now.

The first fundamental difference between cheap and expensive e-books is the E-Ink screen used. It would seem that there can be differences, because now almost all manufacturers make readers on E-Ink Carta. In fact, there is still a difference. The point is that E-Ink breaks down its screens into categories (grades). So, for example, Digma E656 has a screen resolution of 800 by 600 pixels, while PocketBook 632 Aqua and ONYX BOOX LIVINGSTONE have 1448 by 1072 with the same screen size. This suggests that Digma, in order to save money, put the Carta screen, but worse in quality. Accordingly, in expensive models the screen will be better than in cheap ones.

The lower the resolution, the worse the picture quality. If you choose a book exclusively for reading texts, this, of course, will not be very noticeable, but even in this case, smooth and anti-aliased fonts are much more pleasant to read.

If you are looking at technical literature that contains part diagrams or patents, look for higher resolution models. If possible, it is better to make a visual comparison of different models. When you put two models side by side, one with a high-quality E-Ink Carta and one with an E-Ink Carta with a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels, all questions about which is better will disappear by themselves. If this is not possible, it is worth studying user reviews.

It is worth noting that more expensive readers can come not only with E-Ink Carta screens, but also with E-Ink Kaleido. Among them, for example, PocketBook 633 Color or ONYX BOOX Poke 2 Color.

6 “E-book reader ONYX BOOX Poke 2 Color black + case 19 999 *
E-Ink Kaleido is a new, recently launched generation of color electronic ink screens. Several years ago there was already an attempt to make such readers, but it was not popular due to the high cost. Now a new reincarnation has happened – with improved screens and inexpensively. Kaleido, like early E-Ink color screens, displays 4096 colors. But, since the screen is distinguished by high-quality detail, this will be enough for displaying diagrams, graphs, illustrations and comics.

The illumination of the reader’s screen does not seem to be the most important point. But in fact, it directly affects the readability. So, in its absence, as well as with weak or uneven backlighting, you simply will not be able to fully use the reader with insufficient ambient light.


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You can verify this with a live example: even today, some inexpensive readers, such as the Digma E656, are not equipped with backlighting at all, which for many will be a fundamental disadvantage. To be fair, there are inexpensive models that have backlighting, for example, the Dexp L3 Moon. When buying, be sure to pay attention to this factor so that the lack of backlighting does not turn out to be an unpleasant surprise.

The models in the more expensive price range usually have backlighting. Moreover, in some models it can be adjsted according to the level of illumination and color temperature. For example, this is implemented in PocketBook 632 Aqua. Why is this good? And the fact that it allows you to adjust the backlight mode most comfortable for your eyes, and adjust it to different ambient lighting.

Touch control
In an inexpensive reader, the screen will most likely be non-touch. This is not to say that this is an unambiguous inconvenience. If you are using the reader only for reading books in text format, this is fine. Moreover, despite the widespread use of touch screens, there are those who strongly dislike them. For example, the elderly. It should be noted that they are the ones who are usually distinguished by their love of reading and for this reason are considered an important target audience, whose opinion is taken into account by e-book manufacturers.

But often readers are used not only to read texts, but also to view materials in pdf format or comics in cbr format. It will be very inconvenient without a touch screen that allows you to quickly zoom in or out. Therefore, for those who prefer these formats, the presence of a touch screen is important. And for those who have not yet thought about such a possibility, it is worth considering: there are no strict standards for e-books, they are distributed in different formats. And just the pdf format is also books with beautiful graphic formatting.

When developing expensive e-books, manufacturers pay special attention to ergonomics. The buttons will be positioned so that they can be pressed with one hand. In the budget segment, the emphasis is on design. For this reason, the buttons may not be very conveniently located, but it will look nice, since the inexpensive price allows you to make an impulse purchase. A book can be bought solely for its attractive appearance, without examining its characteristics. However, even among budget models, there are books with well-thought-out ergonomics. The main thing here is to check before buying how comfortable the book is in your hands and whether your fingers reach the buttons.

Materials are also important. So, manufacturers in the budget segment often save on them. Over time, plastic can change color, burn out, or, in the worst case, crack. Unpleasant creaking sounds may appear, the book will stop responding to clicks, etc. Before buying a book, it is worth reading reviews and user reviews to find out if the book will withstand active use.

Supported formats
It just so happened that there is no single format for e-books. The most common are fb2, epub and mobi. Almost all models support them. But many books are also stored in pdf, djvu and other formats. And it is better if your reader is “omnivorous” so as not to convert each book into the desired format.

More expensive readers support more formats and do better at supporting them. This is where the installed hardware comes into play. To open a small file in text format, a 600 MHz processor and 128 MB of RAM, like the Digma E656, are enough, and if you need a “heavy” pdf weighing several tens of megabytes, its performance may not be enough. Therefore, the image will be “drawn” slowly, it will be inconvenient to view large files on an inexpensive reader.

For comparison, PocketBook 632 Aqua is equipped with a 1000 MHz processor and 512 MB of RAM, and ONYX BOOX LIVINGSTONE is equipped with a 1200 MHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. With this amount of RAM, the reader works much better with bulky, graphics-intensive files.

The convenience of use
The price also affects the usability. For example, there are some complaints about inexpensive Digma. Users complain that after some time the inscriptions on the buttons are overwritten. It is clear that cheap models will have worse plastic, and tactile sensations from a budget case will not be so pleasant. By the way, good covers can be included in the delivery set. For example, this is the case with ONYX e-books, which affected their price. After all, no matter what the manufacturer says, the cover does not go “as a gift”: its price will inevitably be added to the cost of the reader.

The final price and materials used, on which durability and ease of use depend, will also affect. Budget plastics may not fit well. In this case, they will creak or crunch in the user’s hands. Buttons may be pressed too hard or may be falsely pressed.

This does not mean that cheap readers are doing very badly. It’s just that when compared in terms of ease of use, they are definitely inferior to more expensive models.

The presence of a Wi-Fi module is not essential for reading books. However, the presence of a Wi-Fi module allows you to use such useful networking features as synchronizing bookmarks and reading positions across devices. This is implemented, for example, in PocketBook, where a special service has been developed for this purpose – PocketBook Cloud.

Wi-Fi also adds convenience when uploading files to the reader’s memory, since you can download something interesting directly from the Internet, without waiting for the book to be connected to a computer. If there is no wireless connection, the files will have to be downloaded over the cable.

There is no Wi-Fi in cheap readers. But in more expensive models, for example, ONYX BOOX LIVINGSTONE, PocketBook 632 Aqua, PocketBook 633 Color and ONYX BOOX Poke 2 Color, it is.

Audio playback
Whether it is necessary to play audio in e-books is a difficult question, after all, the reader is bought primarily for reading texts. On the one hand, this expands the functionality of the device. For example, it allows you to listen to audiobooks and recordings of lectures (or even record them, if the functions also have a dictaphone) or distract yourself by listening to music. On the other hand, audio files take up a lot of memory, which will increase the cost of the book.

But if an e-book can also play audiobooks, this is only a plus for her. Inexpensive readers definitely do not support playing audio files. It can be different with more expensive models. For example, PocketBook 633 Color supports audio, while PocketBook 632 Aqua does not.

When buying an inexpensive model, study the displays carefully to choose the one that is most comfortable for your eyes. This is a very individual question. It is quite possible that budget screens will seem uncomfortable, and you still decide to spend money on a more expensive device with which your eyes will get tired more slowly. Pay attention to the quality of the plastic from which the book case is made.

The main difference between expensive readers, when compared with budget models, is a high-quality screen and well-thought-out ergonomics, which increases the comfort of use.

More expensive devices are also advanced functionality, which, however, not everyone needs. If you need a reader just to read books in text formats, then an inexpensive reader is fine. He will quite cope with such tasks. If you are counting on more functionality (listening to audiobooks, displaying charts or reading comics), then you should choose more expensive models that work with the required formats.