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Old 10-15-2011, 11:08 AM   #1
Algiedi
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Backlit reader for declining eyesight

Hello everyone!

Christmas (like winter) is coming, and I'd like to buy my mom an ebook reader. She's been an avid reader all her life, and has an amazing literature culture as a result. Lately it's also been a precious way for her to relax between very demanding work shifts.

However, her eyesight (which has never been good to begin with) has recently deteriorated to the point where she can't read anymore, at all. She can read some on the computer, with magnifying glasses, but not for too long and she can't bring a PC around with her during the interminable bus rides to work.

She told me that she can read better on a backlit screen so I'd like to go for that. Having as big a screen as possible would also be nice so she can use bigass fonts without getting 2 words per line.
Apart from that, anything goes.

I expect various kinds of tablets can do that, but before I delve into the seemingly very complicated world of iPad-likes, I'd like to know if there are any ebook-specific devices out there that would match that description.
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:38 AM   #2
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The iPad would probably be your best bet. Very easy to use, and several excellent reading apps available for it.
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:57 AM   #3
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Very cool. One excellent feature of almost all ebook readers and apps is that you can change the font size.

I currently use my Xoom for most of my ebook reading (also my Sony 505 - e-ink). The Tablets have apps for most of the books stores - Nook, Kindle, Sony. If you want something fully integrated I'd highly suggest the Kindle Fire (and the price is excellent).

edit ... ooops I see you are in France. Kindle Fire might not be the way to go in that case...but certainly could still be used by loading books to it from the computer even if not directly. Price is still pretty good even for just that, but there are other tablets as well and they generally have Kindle Apps or Nook Apps or Aldiko or ...

Last edited by kennyc; 10-15-2011 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:58 AM   #4
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I was indeed expecting the iPad to show up in the first answers :P

While I trust the iPad to do exactly what I need, there's a couple of things to consider

* The price/usage ratio: it's really really expensive - which is justified seeing all that it can do - but buying a several-hundreds-dollars uber-multimedia device just to read books on it would be overdoing it. And I know she would only be reading on it cause she's played around with other people's iPads before and, well, wasn't too enthused :P

* The possibility of mugging: my mom takes the bus around town sometimes late at night. An aging lady, alone at night, walking around with an iPad... I don't feel too good about it.
Although I suppose any kind of LCD-screen device would be a potential target, I'm assuming that the recognizable iPad is more desirable than others.

I've been doing a quick Googling and from mentions in other threads, it seems that an Aluratek reader would get pretty close to the mark.
Anyone's got feedback on that? (or other alternatives)
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Old 10-15-2011, 12:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
I currently use my Xoom for most of my ebook reading (also my Sony 505 - e-ink).
"Hmm this look pretty nicHOLYSHIT500€"

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Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
If you want something fully integrated I'd highly suggest the Kindle Fire (and the price is excellent).

edit ... ooops I see you are in France. Kindle Fire might not be the way to go in that case...but certainly could still be used by loading books to it from the computer even if not directly.
Well, as a rule ebooks and France have a somewhat of an "it's complicated" relationship, although it's probably gonna change real fast with the recent Kindle release on the French market. In any case we can make do with public domain classics for a while (the cynic in me wants to say that nothing good's been written in France for 60+ years anyway :P) or independant publishers that sell DRM-free books + Calibre.

As for the device availability, there's a chance that the Kindle Fire will be made available for orders from France before Christmas (right now it's US only?), so... still possibly a contender.
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Old 10-15-2011, 12:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Algiedi View Post
"Hmm this look pretty nicHOLYSHIT500€"
I know, it's in the same price class as iPad...there are other Android tablet options though .. like the Kindle Fire, but it's custom-built for Amazon media consumption rather than being a generic tablet.

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Well, as a rule ebooks and France have a somewhat of an "it's complicated" relationship, although it's probably gonna change real fast with the recent Kindle release on the French market. In any case we can make do with public domain classics for a while (the cynic in me wants to say that nothing good's been written in France for 60+ years anyway :P) or independant publishers that sell DRM-free books + Calibre.

As for the device availability, there's a chance that the Kindle Fire will be made available for orders from France before Christmas (right now it's US only?), so... still possibly a contender.
I'm sure others will have suggestions as well....keep us posted on your direction/choice.

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Old 10-15-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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This may not be very helpful, but you should perhaps reconsider the decision of a back-lit device. E-ink readers are so cheap nowadays, and they are, in my experience (and some people disagree), much easier to read on than back-lit devices. When she said she prefers back-lit devices, is that after trying an e-ink reader? An e-ink reader does need a good light source but with a good light source, the contrast, the lack of a flickering backlight, and most of all, the light weight and low cost of the devices, really makes them shine as reading devices. You could consider a lighted cover. Tablets are, in my experience, heavy as pure reading devices and more tiring to the eyes. If your mother has seen an e-ink reader with a good deal of light present, then I apologize, but if not, I would say definitely try it. If you were in the US i would have suggested buying a Kindle because the return policy is very generous, but I don't know what it's like for international customers.
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:58 PM   #8
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Really, in terms of bang for buck and ease of dealing with books from a variety of sources, look into a full tablet. Also, LCD ereaders are rather limited in screen size. You can find a good Android tablet in the similar price range as the LCD ereaders with bigger screens, and much cheaper than the iPad.

The Dell Streak is a pretty well-liked 7-inch that's affordable. I've also heard good things about the Vizio 8-inch. My dad has a 7-inch Dropad A8 that he likes a lot - not the newest specs in the world but more than good enough for ereading, and very affordable - around $200.

If bigger is better, there's a 9.7-inch HP Touchpad for about $250 that seems pretty nice. It's WebOS, which I've heard good things about.

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Old 10-15-2011, 05:26 PM   #9
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This may not be very helpful, but you should perhaps reconsider the decision of a back-lit device.
Actually your post was very interesting. She just told me that she reads better on the backlit computer screen than on paper - I then equated computer screen with backlit device and paper with eInk. But it would definitely be worth it to have her check out my own Kindle with big fonts on and see how that goes.

However, the only large-screen eInk reader I know is the Kindle DX, which costs an arm for rather limited functionality.

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Really, in terms of bang for buck and ease of dealing with books from a variety of sources, look into a full tablet. Also, LCD ereaders are rather limited in screen size. You can find a good Android tablet in the similar price range as the LCD ereaders with bigger screens, and much cheaper than the iPad.
I was going into this really skeptical about getting a tablet but I'm starting to change my mind.
A big screen for a reasonnable price range is a huge argument in a tablet's favor. I don't know shit about tablets tho, so that'll take quite a lot of research. I'll get started on the models you told me, once I'm done converting all those inches in centimeters :P
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Old 10-15-2011, 05:46 PM   #10
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I'm blind as a bat sadly, so I can tell you from my own experience what has worked for me.. Surprisingly, ipad is my last choice.. screen size means nothing compared to pixel density. The fonts on my my kindle keyboard.. (super dark text, sharp and really large font sizes makes it the easiest for me to read on. I bought the case with built in back light and its great for reading.

My number two choice is Nook Color.. even though the screen is smaller, its has more pixels per inch which translates to crisper, sharper text for reading then my iPad, the ipad has the prettiest interface, and the ibooks app is really nice. I want to read on it but I can't. The dull text makes my eyes bleed. Rumor has it that will be fixed in ipad 3 but thats months away..

The Kindle Fire, also has the same pixel per inch as the Nook color. This paired with adjusting the font sizes, plus being more portable friendly is what I'd recommend. The best thing is to probably hit your local Best Buy and look at the screens and fonts for yourself..

Good luck!
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:00 PM   #11
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Well, I suppose it would really depend on what the problem is. In older people, the amount of light their eyes can actually take in declines. At 70, you only take in about 20% of the light. So two people, one who's 20 and one who's 70, might have vision problems, but their problems are likely to be very different because of the general affects of aging. One may need bigger fonts and a case light, and the other may need bigger fonts plus a backlit screen.

Of course, only your mom knows. Taking her to Best Buy or something and just letting her try various demos might be a good idea.

OP, if you're worried about user friendliness or the set-up, don't be. It's really simple to set up an ereading app. In Android, I just opened the Marketplace and typed "ereader" into the search and it gives me all the apps. Or you can search for a specific app if there's one you think she'd like. Download, and then go get books. Done. You can stick the app icon on the homepage so it's the first thing she sees.

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Old 10-15-2011, 11:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by SmokeAndMirrors View Post
Really, in terms of bang for buck and ease of dealing with books from a variety of sources, look into a full tablet. Also, LCD ereaders are rather limited in screen size. You can find a good Android tablet in the similar price range as the LCD ereaders with bigger screens, and much cheaper than the iPad.

The Dell Streak is a pretty well-liked 7-inch that's affordable. I've also heard good things about the Vizio 8-inch. My dad has a 7-inch Dropad A8 that he likes a lot - not the newest specs in the world but more than good enough for ereading, and very affordable - around $200.

If bigger is better, there's a 9.7-inch HP Touchpad for about $250 that seems pretty nice. It's WebOS, which I've heard good things about.
The Touchpad is a great device. I love WebOS.

Another one to look into that isn't pricey and is probably easy(ish) to get in France is the Pocketbook IQ. It is geared specifically toward ebook reading:

http://www.pocketbookreader.com/PocketBook_IQ_MHWV.html

I haven't used the Pocketbook IQ. The size does seem very portable - when reading in transit I imagine most people would want a smaller device. It is also reasonably priced, and there are a lot of people here at MR that love Pocketbook devices.

I have used the WebOS and the iPad (I own them both), and both are great devices. WebOS has less apps than the iPad, which can be a bother at times, but I love the UI, which I find very easy to use.
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:11 AM   #13
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Also, I don't know how technical your mom is. I know mine doesn't mix with electronics. I still have to drive 20 miles to set her VCR clocks as I have been for the last 30 years. You may want to keep it simple. I agree, take her to a store and see if she can work them. I think a dedicated ereader might be a good option, but if she wants backlit, don't skimp on the screen. IPS with good viewing angles and good pixel density is the way to go..
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Old 10-16-2011, 03:14 AM   #14
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I'd look into the Sony tablet. It has a nice formfactor for holding.
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Old 10-16-2011, 03:30 AM   #15
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P.S. Don't know how I didn't think of this before, but there's a Plan Z if none of these options allow her to read for as long as she'd like to.

Audiobooks. Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em - personally I'm not a huge fan. But they're out there, and lots of vision-impaired people swear by them.

So, there's lots of options. Hopefully she'll be able to find something that works for her.
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