I spend a lot of time thinking about the potential uses for eReaders beyond the simple enjoyment they are so well suited to providing. It’s an interesting pursuit, really. What it always comes back to, however, is that reading is rarely something people do for anything beyond pleasure in the quantities required to justify something like a Kindle. Except if you’re a student!
See, students will always have more to read in a given week than they will have any interest in carrying around. Which makes something like a Kindle an advantage. At the same time, in many disciplines the mediocre PDF display capabilities, small screen, and lack of color do have the ability to hinder the eReader’s usefulness. Recently, however, we have the iPad and the Nook Color as more expensive but potentially more versatile additions to the student equipment list. It made me curious: We can theorize all we want about what should or shouldn’t be the most useful in a professional or academic setting, but what do the people actually using the devices in these situations think? So I asked.
I talked to 43 students who had all used their eReading device for at least three months. I then went down the list and found the common complaints and praises to share with you all. Here’s what we got:
- Battery that lasts forever
- Glare-free screen
- Storage aplenty
- Built-in Dictionary
- Wide selection of books, both academic & pleasurable
- No color for diagrams
- No functioning microphone
- No way to easily take notes during class
- Awkward pagination
- Slow text searching
- Hard to read faculty-scanned articles
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
- Color Screen
- Very Portable
- Easy to hack
- Runs Android
- Can play games and watch video after hacking
- Poor Battery Life with WiFi turned on
- Can’t read outside
- Complicated to install things on
- Underpowered for full tablet use
- Runs everything
- Good screen
- Can take notes with proper keyboard
- Lots of apps, no hacking needed
- Feels breakable
- Disliked by some instructors
- Very easy to spend too much money through
Now, I’ll start out by saying here that not one person I talked to lately was unhappy with their current purchase. A few of the Nook Color owners had iPad envy, but that was about it. I am also not trying to claim that any of the pros and cons listed for one device do not apply to one of the others. These were just the things that those I talked to felt was important. Everything listed was mentioned by at least five eReader owners.
Surprisingly, of the 12 Nook owners, 10 had rooted their eReaders to make them more functional and most of them said that they enjoyed the tablet functionality more than using them for reading. iPad owners were very happy with their devices, but frequently had trouble with instructors who were wary of potential abuse of the tablets during classes(presumably the same instructors would be anti-laptop as well, of course). Kindle owners were the most satisfied in general but tended to be students in the Humanities, while some of the color tablet owners, in business students, mentioned having been converted away from the Kindle in favor of something that better displayed charts and graphs.
I wouldn’t say we have any clear winners on this one. It’s all a matter of what you want to do and how much you want to pay. If you’re a student in the market for an eReader, you might want to look at some reviews and give these factors some consideration.
For any of you I happened to talk to for this, the responses were appreciated!