March 30, 2012
Once upon a time, outside of a physical, real, traditionally printed book, I preferred reading on an e-ink reader to reading on backlit screens. I'd tried and read on a total of three e-ink readers: a first-generation Nook, a third-generation Kindle, and a Nook Simple Touch. E-ink is easier on the eyes, whereas my iPhone 4, apart from being backlit, has a screen too small for reading long stretches of time, and my iPad 2, apart from also being backlit, renders text with distracting pixelation. But, it turned out that my problem with reading on iOS was not that the screen was backlit; it's that I was in want of a device that has a screen resolution comparable to that of the iPhone 4 and a screen size similar to that of the iPad 2. As it happens, this device has already been invented and made commercially available. Bye bye, e-ink readers. Hello, new iPad as my new e-reader of choice. Really, once you experience reading on the new, Retina-enabled iPad, there's just no going back. And as someone who loves reading all sorts of readable digital content, from Web articles to e-books, I couldn't be more satisfied with the new iPad's unprecedented capacity as a reading device. I'm also delighted with app developers and content creators who readily acknowledge that capacity. On the same day as the new iPad's launch, Apple updated its iBooks app to display Retina-grade text and graphics. Kindle, iBooks' biggest competitor, followed suit shortly after, as did the rival read-later apps, Instapaper and Readability. It's only a matter of time before iBooks' other contenders in the e-reading space, Nook and Kobo, get the Retina treatment for the new iPad. As a matter of fact, while the Retina iPad update Nook is apparently still being cooked, Kobo just hours ago already got the only-to-be-expected update. In addition to having its assets upgraded for the new iPad, Kobo is now also enhanced on the typography and styling fronts. I have an ample collection of e-books in my Kobo account, most of which I bought because they're cheaper to get from the Kobo store than on the Kindle Store or iBookstore, and also because I could sideload them to other e-readers that support Adobe DRM. And now, I'm finally certain to get through all of the books in my collection, what with the crisp and elegant text and graphics offered by the new update. The update also allows you to share and view public notes pertaining to specific passages in books. Notifications are also now in place for when someone replies to your public note, after which you can directly access the thread with just one tap. You can see that Kobo is still intent on pushing its social networking features for a more social reading experience. For Kobo, reading is no longer a solitary vice. A redesigned app homepage that makes for easier access to recently read books as well as to popular free classic and contemporary books is also included in the update. And, of course, bug fixes are also applied. The update is free for existing Kobo app users, and the app itself, which is designed for both iPhone and iPad, is available in the App Store for free. Where art thou, Nook?
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