E-reader Roundup

Our recommendations, starting at under $100

4 min read

Except for Apple’s best-selling iPads, e-readers and tablets are rapidly becoming commodity products. Consumers can choose from among scores of makes and models, ranging in price from US $79 to $830. With such an array of choices, which one makes the most sense for your budget and reading style?

The first choice users must make is whether to buy a dedicated e-reader, a tablet, or a hybrid of the two. Dedicated e-readers are the smallest, lightest, and least expensive of the three options. They’re so small and light that they can be easily read with one hand, just like a paperback. Because they employ a low-power display technology called E Ink, dedicated e-readers can last for weeks between battery recharges. In addition, text on an E Ink display is generally sharper, crisper, and less likely to provoke eye strain (especially in bright light) than text on the LCD screens of typical tablets and hybrids. Depending on the model, dedicated e-readers may incorporate a variety of reading and research aids—for example, a built-in dictionary, the ability to add annotations and bookmarks, or the capability to wirelessly purchase and download e-books.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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