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eBook Reader Features

Updated on July 20, 2010

eBook Reader Screen Size

Screen Size

A standard paperback book has a diagonal, across the text area size of around 6.5 inches or 16 cm. An ebook reader with a screen size of 6 inches will give a similar reading experience. There are 7 inch screens but the whole eReader tends to be accordingly larger so portability can be an issue. Screen size is measured across the diagonal of the screen. There are also eBook readers with 5 inch screens if you want greater portability.

Battery life

Usually quoted in number of page turns with over 1000 pages turns being the norm. Ebooks don’t usually have backlighting so there is very little battery drian apart from the juice used to move to the next page. If you make use of the built-in music player then the battery life is going to be significantly affected.

Ebook Format Support

There are quite a few different formats that you can get your eBooks in and some are easier to find than others. The most commonly available are Adobe Acrobat pdf, Microsoft reader lit and BBEB as supported by the Sony Ebook range. Here are utilities that will allow you to convert between formats but DRM (digital rights management) may prevent you making these changes. Pdf files are the largest format with Microsoft reader being a bit small and BBEB format books being almost a quarter of the size of pdfs. As the average eBook reader will store several hundred ebooks anyway there would seem to be little point in worrying about size anyway. Except that turning the page can take longer with a pdf than with a smaller format file and if you use the size option to make the text larger then a pdf can take a lot longer to reformat than a BBEB.

Text Resize

The default text size on a 6 inch Ebook reader can be quite small. If you are in denial about needing reading glasses then the text resize function can be very useful. The Sony PRS 505 that I own has small, medium and large text options. This allows me to keep pretending that my eyesight is perfect though I do have to turn pages more often.

Placement of the next page button

If you are thinking that this is a trivial issue then you probably don’t already own an eBook reader yet. When you get settled in for a good read it really helps if the next page button is close to your thumb. My Sony has a button half way up the right hand edge and another toward the left of the bottom edge of the book. This is perfect whether I am sitting or laying down. It might seem trivial but it makes useability better.

Touch screen

Cool idea and certainly might be useful if you use the picture features but personally I mostly read books and listen to music which makes the touch function pretty pointless.

Memory Card

Most Ebook readers have enough internal memory to store a year or more of books but if you plan to use the picture function, not great on the mono screen ereaders, or store a decent music library then being able to plug in  a memory card is a very good idea. Make sure you get one that takes an SD card or one of the other common types of card so that you can get them without having to pay too much.


Now don’t look like that, not all eBook readers come with a real charger. My Sony will charger through the USB cable but I went out and bought a real charger and it is many time faster. If your chosen ebook reader doesn’t come with a charger look around for deals where the ‘optional’ charger is bundled, it is well worth having.

Screen Protector

I know this isn’t a feature but with the price of ereaders being pretty high it is worth getting screen protection from day one. Even if the eBook reader you are going for has a cover you still want a screen protector.

Illuminated cover

The screen on most eBook readers works on incidental light, the more light falling on the screen the brighter it gets, which makes using them out of doors a real treat, even in bright sunlight. When you are trying to read in dim light things get tricky and I eventually bought an illuminated cover for mine. The downside with my official Sony illuminated cover is that it almost doubles the weight of the unit and makes it quite a bit bulkier so shop around for one that meets your needs.


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