In recent days, as Apple steps into the market and eReaders are practically falling out of the rafters, one of the major points of comparison that has kept the Kindle on top has been the subscription-free 3G connection complete with web browser. Nobody has ever claimed that it looked wonderful, but it does the job and who doesn’t occasionally love the option to check Wikipedia on the fly?
Well, it seems that Barnes and Noble has finally caught up with the crowd. According to recently released rumors, we could be seeing a full web browser added into the feature list as early as next week in a downloaded firmware update. Now, it would be reasonable to expect perfection right out the door, but any nook owner will tell you that this has been a long time coming.
Even assuming that the main purpose will be for text-based web pages such as Wikipedia or the many online dictionaries, there will be several unexpected side effects that could benefit owners. Travelers in areas without 3G coverage who wish to use their devices in the airport, hotel, or coffee shop have often found themselves out of luck up until now, since many such places require navigating an internal web page to gain access to the connection itself. If this rumor proves true, nook fans have some fun things to look forward to as the eReader feature gap closes up a little bit more.
This has been a question that I’ve been wondering about for some time. As an avid reader with a habit of finishing at least a book or two per week, I’ve often wondered if, as seemed logical from a knee-jerk instinctive point of view, I was actually saving resources by switching away from printed material in favor of a Kindle. I’m sure many of us have. The answer is a little bit surprising.
A recent article broke things down for me in terms of resource extraction, environmental impact of manufacturing and transportation, energy usage and disposal, within the limits of general understanding since the composition and manufacture of individual screen types and such are often not a matter of public record. Apparently, depending on what factors you choose to gauge your green-ness, an eBook Reader gains the edge after between 50-100 books. This seemed like a lot at first glance, but since that’s about a year of a book per week(not something I consider an unreasonable rate of consumption) it’s easily less than what I plan in the life of any eBook Reader I might happen to pick up. That doesn’t even begin to take into account the resource savings on things like periodical and newspaper subscriptions, which are an area in which the Kindle shines.
It might be a small change, but it’s nice to be aware that in a world increasingly aware of resource deficits and “green guilt” hitting me left and right, I can be proud of this rare intersection of technical convenience, enjoyment, and ecological soundness. Not quite as proud as if I were to start walking to the used book store every week instead, but we all have to start somewhere, right?