Eco Freindly Readers

There is no excuse in this day and age to be buying magazines, newspapers or even books! Admittedly, there are already an awful lot of books in circulation on this planet and it’s better to keep passing them along than throw them out. Magazines and newspapers have a place in big events, such as the 2008 Presidential election. They make great keepsakes of big events, photos and all.

But in day to day life there are better ideas than buying more paper and throwing it away. Enter four eco friendly readers. Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s e-Reader, Rex Technologies iLiad and the Plastic Logic Reader. You may have heard of these before and not given it much thought. But they are a greenie readers dream! Now you can read books, magazines and newspapers on readers that you carry in your hand. The Kindle and eReader are available now while the new Plastic Logic will be hitting the shelves in 2009.

All of these readers present a highly legible black-and-white display for easy reading. This display was developed by the E Ink Corporation and is even easier on the eyes than the traditional mediums. The cool thing about the Plastic Logic Reader is the awesome form factor. It is the size of an 8.5 x 11″ piece of paper, so it’s just like reading the real thing! Now, how cool is that? Besides, it’s thinner than a pad of paper, lighter than many business periodicals, and offers a high-quality reading experience.

At this point in time, this new device is targeted for business users, but it definitely has the potential to become the preferred method of reading newspapers. No ink on the fingers! Nothing to recycle. Adjustable to meet your needs and useful to everyone, even children. No price has been quoted yet for the Plastic Logic reader, but it’s not going to be cheap. All indicators seem to point to a tightly competitive pricing between the four readers. Amazon’s Kindle is currently offered at $349 and this will probably be the initial price range for the Plastic Logic as well. We can only hope the price will fall eventually and become more within everyone’s grasp. And then, when more widely used, can such a device be good for newspapers and the planet, too?

A more expensive but more versatile option is the iLiad by Rex Technologies. With the iLiad you can do more than just read, you can write, print and download from the web as well. This cool little device lets you read and write as you do on paper everywhere you go. But unlike paper you can store it in the device, there is nothing to file, to toss out or to manage. This includes anything and everything you like to read: books, newspapers, documents and any file you can load onto a computer. Imagine carrying an entire office.. indeed, an entire library!.. on a single, lightweight device? It’s wonderful and it’s green. But right now, it’s still expensive. The iLiad markets at $600, give or take a few dollars depending on the model.

From the green point of view, are these newspaper e-readers superior in comparison with the printed newspaper? Obviously, it saves trees and transportation, but is it really better for the environment? Ebooks looked really good at first but over time it became apparent that most people printed the books and made copies, sometimes LOTS of copies, therefor saving very few trees and putting more paper in the recycling bin. But research on the ereader has already been done and this is what they are saying:

Researcher Asa Moberg and her team of the Center for Sustainable Communications at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden studied the environmental effects of producing print versus electronic newspapers, both on the Internet and by using the iRex Iliad. The results were published last year and the conclusion was as follows:

“The ranking from an environmental point of view was in general the tablet e-paper and the web based newspaper with a shorter reading time (10 min), was giving rise to a lower environmental impact than the printed version. With a reading time of 30 minutes/day the environmental impact of the web based newspaper was in general in the same range as the printed newspaper environmental impact.”

The research also reports that “the production of the tablet e-paper device was the single largest part of the total environmental impact of the tablet e-paper newspaper life cycle. Editorial work, and for some impact categories also the incineration of parts of the electronic device (plastic waste) contributed to the rest of the environmental impact.”

In effect, Morgan’s findings were that the e-paper and reader devices are better than print and similar to reading the news over the net. No research has been made yet on the new Plastic Logic but it’s effects are bound to be similar. Which is all well and good for the planet and we should look forward to more of the same being offered. But the real impact will be felt when the consumer is able to use this device in large numbers and that won’t happen until the price comes down. So, if people who can afford the device buy it now, the trend will continue and the price will eventually fall and then the items will be accessible to the rest of us and then we’ll see the difference, both for us and for the planet.

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