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Old 04-02-2013, 07:23 AM   #1
Lucas Malor
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Question Built-in light and formats

Hello all. I want to buy my first e-book reader, and I'm not very sure about two things:
  1. Built-in light: is it useful? Does it hurt eyes? Can it be disabled?
  2. Formats: is it true that Kindle has problems with formats other than azw, in particular epub?

PS: I'm oriented to buy a Kobo Glo.

Last edited by Lucas Malor; 04-02-2013 at 11:41 AM. Reason: I meant built-in illumination
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:34 AM   #2
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1. I have no idea what "retroillumination" is (reading by candlelight, perhaps?)

2. Yes, the Kindle uses its own format, but it's trivial to convert ePub to the Kindle's "KF8" format.
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:44 AM   #3
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Hi,

Your main choices as far as lighting are

(a) e-ink with no inbuilt lighting: eg Kobo Touch, non-Paperwhite Kindles, Sony PRS-T1 or T2, etc;

(b) e-ink with front-lighting. There is a bank of LEDs at the top of the screen (the glowing Nook) or the bottom of the screen (Kobo Glo, Kindle Paperwhite, etc), with a very thin invisible grating layer on the screen that distributes the lighting. A lot of people find this variety of lighting very easy on the eyes, and I can vouch for the fact that the frontlight on my Glo improves readability and contrast even when there is ambient light. These devices are typically light, fairly inexpensive (with a very slight premium over unlit e-ink readers), and have similar battery lives to their non-lit counterparts.

(c) a backlit tablet, eg iPad, Kindle Fire, Kobo Arc, the various Android devices, etc - there are many many of these. Some find the lighting to be "harsher" on the eyes than the frontlit e-ink devices, but on the other hand it can be a more even light than some less well-made frontlit devices, and there is typically a "night mode" available to reverse (light text on a black background) if you're into that sort of thing. The downsides are a pretty hefty list: extended use (2 hours +) of tablets before bed can inhibit sleep; they are expensive; they are heavy; their battery life is very, very inferior to the e-ink devices, including the frontlit ones. On the gripping hand, tablets are a better choice for reading PDFs and for running various non-reading apps (email, web, video whatever).
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:35 AM   #4
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@meeera: can front-lighting be disabled in Kobo Glo? It seems a good feature, but I fear it could harm eyes in the long run and I would be sure I can disable it.

@HarryT: thank you for the answer. Do you know if there's a Kindle with a card reader and a touch screen? Wikipedia says no, and this is a big problem for me.

By the way, why don't you add that link to the pinned thread? It's less detailed and a bit confusing, but there's a lot of readers.
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lucas Malor View Post
@meeera: can front-lighting be disabled in Kobo Glo? It seems a good feature, but I fear it could harm eyes in the long run and I would be sure I can disable it.
Front lighting dramatically improves the readability of the screen; exactly the opposite of harming your vision.

Quote:
@HarryT: thank you for the answer. Do you know if there's a Kindle with a card reader and a touch screen? Wikipedia says no, and this is a big problem for me.
The Kindle doesn't have a card slot, but may I ask why it's a problem? I currently have 709 books on my Kindle Paperwhite, and am using about 40% of the storage space. How many books is it essential for you to carry around?
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:27 AM   #6
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Lights: Well, I'm sure readability will be improved, but I'm afraid of over-illumination. Less than two hours in front of a pc screen stress me a lot. Ok, there's no colors and animations in e-books... but it's anyway a illuminated screen that I must use for many, many hours *_*

Kindle: the problem is not related to storage capacity, but to pc connection. For what I know Paperwhite has not an USB port or a card reader. "Normal" Kindle have USB but it don't have a touch screen. For what you know there's a kindle with a card reader / USB port and a touch screen?
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:23 PM   #7
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The Kindle does have a USB connection. Connect it to a PC and it mounts as an external drive, to which you can copy your books.
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:20 PM   #8
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Regards the lights and your fear of getting sore eyes from over-illumination, the setting for the light on both the Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite ranges from 0-20, so there is a very wide range of light. Your eyes won't get tired/sore the same way as they might do when looking at a computer screen, as it's a different type of lighting as meeera explained.

The light on the Paperwhite tends to be a little duller at the lower settings than the Glo, but with the Glo you can turn the light off completely (with the Paperwhite when you put it at it's lowest setting it's not actually off but isn't noticeable except in the dark).
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:50 PM   #9
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Ah, that's good. For your experience, an ebook reader with built-in light that is turned off (as a Kobo Glo with shutted down light) is the same as an ebook reader without built-in light at all (as a "normal" Kindle)?
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Ah, that's good. For your experience, an ebook reader with built-in light that is turned off (as a Kobo Glo with shutted down light) is the same as an ebook reader without built-in light at all (as a "normal" Kindle)?
They're similar, but not quite the same. The light diffusion layer causes some loss of contrast and clarity compared to a naked screen. While I personally find the layer to be worth the tradeoff, a naked eink screen is much better in perfect lighting (bright outdoor light). In anything less that perfect lighting the frontlight improves the reading experience tremendously and I seriously doubt you'd find yourself turning it off. I can hardly stand to read indoors using my non-lit eink reader anymore.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:16 PM   #11
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Thank you all. I think I'll buy a Kobo Glo. I think Amazon should take seriously into consideration to add an USB port to Paperwhite and the epub support ;-)

The only thing I don't like is that in my country Kobo is connected to an online ebook store owned by Berlusconi...
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucas Malor View Post
Thank you all. I think I'll buy a Kobo Glo. I think Amazon should take seriously into consideration to add an USB port to Paperwhite and the epub support ;-)

The only thing I don't like is that in my country Kobo is connected to an online ebook store owned by Berlusconi...
The Paperwhite does have a USB port, as I believe has already been stated. It has a standard micro usb connection and when connected to a host system is shows up as a mass storage device, which means that it shows up just like a USB flash drive. It has a folder named "Documents" and anything in a compatible format (.txt, .mobi, .azw, .pdf) dropped in that folder or a subfolder below it will show up.

There is no direct epub support, but there are a few 3rd party apps to support epub, and conversion is very easy. Calibre is the most popular solution, but I personally just use the kindlegen command line tool that Amazon has on their website. Alternatively you can use their previewer tool. Just drag and drop an epub file onto the previewer tool and it opens it and saves a file in the same folder as the original epub that you can then copy to your Kindle.
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:25 AM   #13
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The Paperwhite does have a USB port, as I believe has already been stated. It has a standard micro usb connection and when connected to a host system is shows up as a mass storage device, which means that it shows up just like a USB flash drive. It has a folder named "Documents" and anything in a compatible format (.txt, .mobi, .azw, .pdf) dropped in that folder or a subfolder below it will show up.
Yes, I stated that in post #7 above. Perhaps the original poster overlooked it.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:20 AM   #14
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@HarryT: Well, no, I read. Since you wrote "Kindle", I thought you was referring to the "normal" Kindle, not both "normal" one and Paperwhite. So do you confirm Wikipedia is wrong (it states that both Paperwhite wifi and 3g have no USB port)?

@twowheels: Thank you for reporting kindlegen. Anyway if the quality is almost the same I prefer something that honours open standards ;-)
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:35 AM   #15
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@HarryT: Well, no, I read. Since you wrote "Kindle", I thought you was referring to the "normal" Kindle, not both "normal" one and Paperwhite. So do you confirm Wikipedia is wrong (it states that both Paperwhite wifi and 3g have no USB port)?

@twowheels: Thank you for reporting kindlegen. Anyway if the quality is almost the same I prefer something that honours open standards ;-)
Perhaps you're misunderstanding what's on Wikipedia. There are two different "types" of USB:

1. A USB host, which allows you to plug other things into it - memory stick, keyboard, mouse, etc. A PC is a USB host, as are some Android tablets.

2. A USB client, which is something that you plug in to a USB host.

All Kindles (in fact all eInk readers that I'm personally aware of) are USB clients, but not USB hosts.

When comparing the Kindle and the Kobo, one factor you really should consider is the stability of the device. The Kindle is rock solid, with very few bugs. If you look at the Kobo forum here at MR you'll see that there's widespread dissatisfaction with the Kobo. The firmware is reportedly very buggy, and new bugs are introduced with each new firmware update. I've no personal experience of this, but that's what many Kobo owners reports.
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