Suitable eReaders for the military is a problem not many would consider, yet it can be a problem that many have. Have you ever considered the problems experienced by military personnel and their families with respect to their reading material and their own personal needs to carry their favorite books around with them?
Most people don’t, but they do have such problems. Here is a synopsis of a post recently placed on a forum along with some suggestions and the reason for them being made. It sure gives an insight into the reading problems some people experience, and how other real people see the eReader market.
Let’s call her Diana, and here is her problem:
Diana’s husband has just been assigned to a 4-year tour of duty in Japan and he has 10 years to go in the army. His wife has a great love of books, has a number of books that she must have with her during her extensive traveling with her husband, and most her books were damaged by water during one of their many moves. She has no real knowledge of eReaders but is asking forum members for advice on suitable eReaders based upon her personal needs. These are:
a) It must be portable, not in terms of size but in terms of ease of downloading books. She could not use a virtual library that necessitates her having to be in any specific country in order to use the eReader to access reading material.
b) It must be inexpensive – military family paychecks are not large, and the books available must not cost a lot. She also needs to be able to read the books in mobi, but also in as large a library as possible so she can choose from a range of formats at as low a price as possible. An SD card slot would be useful in opening up a good range of stored books.
c) She wants to be able to have more than one book on the go at any one time, and she has no need for note-taking.
She also mentions having heard of both BeBook and Hanlin, and is looking for advice. She doesn’t mention much else, and the responses she received are very illuminating. Without comment meantime, here are some of the responding posts she received from the forum:
First a resume of the recommendations, taking each separately where recommendations suggested more than one eReader. This might surprise many people, but perhaps not.
Hanlin: 4 votes
BeBook: 4 votes
EZ Reader: 3 votes
Cybook: 3 votes
Kindle: 2 votes
Sony 505: 2 votes
Keep in mind that this is an American forum, but the big names appear last with no mention of others such as any of the non-dedicated eReaders such as the iPad since the post was made before its launch. However, it’s doubtful if it would have made the list, given those that the American public has suggested.
The Hanlin and the BeBook are identical apart from the firmware, and appear to be extremely popular in the USA in comparison to the well-established Kindle. Perhaps these suggestions were made on the price factor: the Kindle came in at $ 259 then, with the Hanlin/BeBook at around $ 229. The Bookeen Cybook is over $ 300 and the EZ Reader Pocket Pro is only $ 199, though these prices will likely vary according to where you purchase them.
However, the point is that, from the tone of the posts, people seem to be suggesting their favorite eReader, or just the one they use because they haven’t tried any others. There will be eReaders available in Japan that are not so in the USA, and retail prices will be different there due to the different tax structure. The question is what does the Hamlin/BeBook have that the others don’t – 8 votes for these is a very large majority over any other – the next would be the Cybook and the EZ Reader with the so-called superior eReaders, the Sony 5050 and the Amazon Kindle way behind.
There is not time here to discuss the pros and cons of each of these so that we can come to some form of conclusion as to the popular suggestions to Diana, only that she did request a mobi reader (BeBook/Hanlin are), but this may not have been an educated request since she admits to knowing little about eBooks and eReaders. Her need for a large number of classics and popular books indicates that she likely wants the least expensive and most extensive libraries to be downloadable, and who can really deny that the choices suggested to her would not offer that capability.
In fact, most choices were made on the basis of being able to read mobi (a requirement), good dictionary, large storage capacity (a requirement) and multi-language facility. The ability to read more than one book at a time (a requirement) was also a factor in the recommended choices. The Hamlin, BeBook and variants meet all of these needs.
Forums are certainly one way to find out what eReaders people are using, why they are using them and what they are looking for in the ideal eReader.
Marco Gustafsson writes articles about electronic inks and popular electronic books. More of his reviews you can find visiting Digital Book Readers.
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