For the past three weeks our team of engineers has analyzed the most popular e-readers on the market in order to confer our annual “Editor’s Choice” Award.
Devices were judged on a variety criteria to see how each functioned given a set of circumstances. The criteria themselves were weighted for the final score; individual and final grades were assigned on a curve.
Each device had its strengths. For some it was speed; for others it was capacity. Some were better with shorter articles; others with longer works. And cost, as always, was a factor. But in the end, one e-reader stood out.
The most obvious advantage of The Newspaper was the size of its display, which outclassed its rivals both in terms of size and elasticity. The Newspaper display could be read at full size or, when flipped open, twice its normal width. We also had no trouble reading copy when the display was flipped to half or even quarter size. One of our engineers even figured out how to make a hat.
One drawback to The Newspaper display was that it used a much older version of the e-ink employed in some other e-reader displays. As a result, our hands became dirty and a bit oily after just a few minutes of use. However, further experimentation proved the device’s sundry qualities, combined with the elasticity of its screen, to be a most effective weapon against flies. It also proved to be an adequate alternative to wrapping paper.
With the other e-readers, some of our engineers had the exact opposite experience. They reported an unwillingness to hold the device—nor let anyone else hold the device—unless their hands had been scrubbed and rescrubbed and scrubbed again. The slightest grease mark or dust particle sent these engineers into a flying panic. Several are still checked in to a facility just outside the city.
What concerned us most about The Newspaper was its lack of Wi-Fi. Information on the system was locked, while on other e-readers it was open, ubiquitous and current. Eventually, however, we found this advantage to be overstated, even misleading. Engineers using The Newspaper typically did so 30 to 60 minutes a day. Afterward, they went outside, formed relationships, and took in what life had to offer. Those using Wi-Fi-enabled e-readers tended to stay on the couch, scanning video sites for cats; eventually, downloading recipes for artichoke cheese dip they’ll never use.
There were other limits to The Newspaper’s capabilities. Yet, these we could live with as well. Books could be downloaded onto the other e-readers, but after several days, we became bored with this feature. It seemed, for our tastes, that too many married professors with too many tenure problems were having too many mid-life crises involving too many young mistresses. Also, we found that, even on a color monitor, we still couldn’t finish Swann’s Way.
Cost was a bit of a push. The Newspaper is more than some devices, when prorated over the course of two or more years, but inexpensive month-to-month. On the whole, users will have to determine which e-reader fits their budget best. However, we quickly discovered the e-reader’s cheap short-term costs, coupled with its ubiquity and screen size, made for great cover when tailing people like they did in the ’30s.
The Newspaper also had other, unique features that added value to the overall experience.
The device’s internal security system was chief among these attractions. We left one Newspaper on a park bench for six hours and, upon return, found it in the exact same place. Another we left in a bar after a thorough evening of testing. When we came back the next afternoon, The Newspaper remained untouched. The proprietor, incidentally, was curious why engineers would return for a day-old e-reader. We tried to explain the tests, but he gave us all dirty looks. When we tried to explain the process again, he became testy and said if we were going to bring that kind of claptrap in here, we could get the hell out. We did and went elsewhere to continue testing.
Battery life was also a plus, as The Newspaper lasted 24 hours—much longer than its next-best rival.
The Newspaper also has a great number of apps already downloaded onto the device, ones we have yet to see on any other e-reader. There are the previously mentioned fly-swatting, hat-making, present-wrapping, and tailing people apps. But also the “same ol’ bullshit”, “who’s got the sports section?” and “packing material for my eBay business” apps.
In the end, we found The Newspaper to be the least flashy and technical of the e-readers. Its value seems to be derived from a rather basic utility. And while we were generally pleased with the content, we would advise the makers of the next generation Newspaper to include a few new comic strips. That said, no other e-reader impressed us more—both in terms of convenience and fine hat-making.
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