E-book readers are the ideal companion for all bookworms. The compact devices store an entire library and, unlike tablets, display fonts almost as if they were printed. Two brands in particular dominate the market: the Amazon Kindle and the Tolino. But which e-book reader is the right one for which purpose? TECHNOLOGY BUTTON explains.
Thick books on the shelf may look good, but it is much more practical when hundreds of books fit on one device and therefore fit in every pocket. E-book readers do just that. Thanks to their eInk displays, they show text glare-free and almost like on real paper, can be easily read in sunlight and at the same time use so little power that one battery charge is sufficient for several weeks. In Germany there are two e-book reader series that buyers use particularly frequently: The Kindle series from Amazon and the Tolino series, which are made up of an alliance of German booksellers Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Mayersche Buchhandlung, Osiander and Libri was created. But which e-book reader should I get? TECHNOLOGY BUTTON shows which current models are available and which one is right for you.
- ePub or mobi? A question of format
- The current e-book readers from Amazon
- The current e-book readers from Tolino
ePub or mobi? A question of format
Kindle with restrictions
The Kindle 3 with keyboard was the first e-book reader from Amazon in April 2011, which the company also sold in Germany. Over the years, numerous new models have been added, all of which – similar to the Fire tablets – are closely linked to the ecosystem of the online retailer.
Amazon uses the so-called mobi format for its Kindle e-readers, which is actually supported by many e-book readers. But at the same time, the provider protects its digital books from unauthorized duplication with the in-house azw format. The e-books are provided with an individual sequence of digits when they are installed on the Kindle, which means that they can only be reproduced on the buyer’s Kindle.
In addition to these mobi / azw files, the text formats PDF, HTML, TXT, and DOC can be saved on Amazon’s e-book readers. However, the Kindle does not support the well-known ePub format used by most retailers. This restricts the purchase of digital books very much – users are thus more or less dependent on the Amazon store. Borrowing e-books, the so-called e-lending, is also not possible with Amazon’s Kindle, since the public libraries use the more common ePub format.
Free spirit Tolino
The Tolino Alliance works differently than Amazon does with its Kindle. The project was launched in 2013 by Telekom (which has since dropped out) and some large German book retail chains such as Thalia and Hugendubel. Right from the start, Allianz relied on an open business that does not tie Tolino owners to a retailer when buying e-books.
To ensure this, the various Tolino eReaders support TXT and PDFs, all of which support the ePub format. It is also possible to borrow e-books in public libraries.
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The current e-book readers from Amazon
For many, Amazon’s Kindle has become almost synonymous with the e-book reader – even though Amazon uses its own e-book format. Nevertheless, the manufacturer’s e-readers can convince. Amazon updates its Kindle family quite frequently and can therefore offer devices with the latest technology. From the inexpensive entry-level model to e-book readers especially for children to luxury devices, almost everything is included.
AMAZON’S KINDLE E-READER
Who is it for?
The Kindle series is particularly recommended for those users who are already on the move in the Amazon universe – for example customers with a Prime subscription or owners of an Amazon device such as the Fire tablets. In this way, the services, content and devices of the online retailer can be easily linked.
Amazon Kindle (10th Generation)
It is considered an entry-level model from Amazon and is available in black or white for just under 90 euros (80 euros with advertisements). The 6-inch eInk-Carta display, which even has an integrated background lighting, ensures that the reading is close to the paper and flicker-free. This allows users to read comfortably even in twilight.
The Kindle has 4 GB of storage space for storing e-books, which is enough for thousands of digital books. At the same time, users have direct access to Amazon’s e-book shop from the eReader and can download free reading samples. Audiobooks can also be played on the Kindle. It is also possible to set bookmarks, look up terms in the dictionary and change the font and size. The Amazon Kindle can be operated via the touchscreen.
Kindle Kids Edition
In contrast to Tolino, Amazon also offers a special version for children with the Kindle Kids Edition. It is identical to the Amazon Kindle, but comes with a little more scope of delivery and adapted software. The price of 109.99 euros already includes a matching case, which is available in four designs. There are no advertisements here. In return, however, the possibility for parents to closely follow the reading status of their child. The more the little ones read, the more awards they receive, which further encourages them. With the integrated vocabulary trainer you can also learn new words or look up unfamiliar terms in the dictionary.
So that you don’t run out of reading material, the Kindle Kids Edition includes free access to the FreeTime Unlimited subscription, which not only includes thousands of child-friendly e-books, but also includes audio books, series and films. After a year, however, the free access ends and Amazon charges FreeTime Unlimited again at 4.99 euros per month (2.99 euros for Prime customers).
The Kindle Paperwhite is an optimized version of the normal eReader: The e-paper display still measures 6 inches, but has a higher resolution. The Paperwhite makes writing even clearer and richer in contrast. Here, too, it is operated via the touchscreen, the device does not have any haptic buttons. The Kindle Paperwhite also has a backlight and the ability to play audio books.
Compared to the normal Kindle, Amazon offers the Paperwhite with significantly more memory: 8 GB or 32 GB are available. The extra memory should primarily benefit users of very large digital libraries, comic book readers and fans of audio books. There is also a version with free UMTS, which users can use to access Amazon’s e-book shop while on the move. Another special feature is the waterproof housing. The Kindle Paperwhite is protected against water according to IPX8 and can therefore also be used on the beach or in the bathtub without breaking immediately.
The smallest memory variant of the Kindle Paperwhite without 4G currently costs 140 euros (120 with advertisements) and the largest memory variant with 4G costs 230 euros without advertising. The e-book reader is available in dark blue, green, purple or black.
The luxury model among Amazon’s e-book readers! The Kindle Oasis has a larger display (7 inches), comes with the same high resolution as the Paperwhite and has intelligent, brightness-controlled lighting with 25 instead of just 5 LEDs. In addition, it is waterproof to IPX8 and available in the same memory sizes as the Paperwhite. Amazon also offers a 4G version. The prices for the Kindle Oasis at 230 for the cheapest and at least 320 euros for the most expensive version (4G, 32 GB memory) are not to be despised.
What does the eReader do differently from Amazon’s other Kindle? Well, it has a modern, very light and flat housing made of metal, a completely flat display and display lighting that can be adjusted in color temperature from white to amber. Amazon uses the latest generation of e-papers in the Oasis and has improved the performance in such a way that turning the pages using the touchscreen or the scroll keys is even faster.
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The current e-book readers from Tolino
Unlike the Kindle models from Amazon, the Tolino Alliance only offers the e-book reader of the same name in WiFi versions. Since Telekom was previously involved in the project, the hotspots of the mobile phone provider in Germany can be used free of charge. All Tolinos also have the usual functions such as an adjustable font and size, allow bookmarks and markings to be set and come with an integrated dictionary. As with Amazon, Tolino always maintains its devices with new generations that have the latest features.
Who is it for?
Since the Tolinos support the ePub format, users are independent when it comes to choosing an e-book shop. Another great advantage and incentive to buy is the ability to borrow e-books from the library (online loan). So if you don’t want to commit to Amazon, you have almost no choice but to choose one of the Tolino models.
The Tolino Page is the counterpart to Amazon’s Kindle and is an entry-level model in the Tolino family. It also comes with a 6-inch e-ink carta display, but has 8 GB of memory, of which approx. 6 GB is available for e-books – here it is a bit ahead of the Amazon Kindle. In addition, the Tolino Alliance donates an additional 25 GB of cloud storage with every purchase – but only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The Tolino originally cost 89 euros, but the eReader is now available for around 69 euros.
The third generation of the Tolino Shine is superior in some ways. It has SmartLight backlighting that adjusts from cold white light in the morning to warm white light in the evening according to the time of day. The 6-inch Carta display also has a HD resolution and is therefore higher than that of the entry-level model. The battery of the Shine 3 also offers 50 percent more capacity (altogether 1500 mAh) than that of the Page 2. However, both are controlled via the touchscreen. 8 GB of internal storage are available for e-books.
The Tolino Shine 3 costs around 90 euros and is available in major bookstore chains, among others.
The Tolino Vision 5 is visually different from the two previous devices and is much more similar to Amazon’s Kindle Oasis. The eReader also allows control via touchscreen or scroll keys and it also has the 7-inch HD display in common with the Oasis. However, the housing of the Tolino Vision 5 is made of plastic and not aluminum. You can read with it in both portrait and landscape format.
The Tolino Vision 5 is protected against splash water and allows immersion for up to 60 minutes in fresh water up to two meters deep. The SmartLight lighting can also be found on this model, as is the 8 GB memory. The battery capacity is not as strong as that of the Tolino Shine 3, but better than that of the Page 2. The Tolino Vision 5 costs just under 140 euros.
The epic is Tolino’s top model. At 8 inches, it has the largest display of all the models shown here and also has the highest resolution – namely Full HD. The display is completely flat and dispenses with the slightly raised edges that still exist on the Vision 5. Tolino achieves this by dispensing with a glass layer on the screen. This not only makes the Epos 2 lighter, the display is also more flexible and less susceptible.
Otherwise, the Epos 2 is similar to the Vision 5 in many ways: Both have the same storage and battery capacity (1200 mAh), are protected against water in accordance with IPX8 and allow display in portrait and landscape format. Both Tolinos even have the capacitive double-layer touchscreen, which makes it even faster to turn the pages. The same goes for the additional buttons for scrolling. In the end, the biggest difference lies in the display size and workmanship as well as in the price. Because at around 255 euros, the Tolino Epos 2 is a good 100 euros more expensive than the Vision 5.
The Kindle from Amazon and the models of the Tolino Alliance are in a head-to-head duel on many points. So which device should you buy? Anyone who is already out and about in the Amazon universe or even has the Kindle Unlimited e-book flat rate cannot avoid an Amazon device. If you need more freedom and want to buy your e-books elsewhere, the Tolinos are a good alternative with often better battery life and slightly cheaper prices.
Since Amazon and the Tolino Alliance almost completely split up the e-book reader market in Germany, we forego other devices from Kobo (which are now part of the Tolino Alliance), Pocketbooks or Bookeen in the comparison.