Accessories boost light, sound and feel of e-readers and tablets
The marketplace for e-reader and tablet accessories is booming. Here's a guide to what's available.
The New York Times
E-readers are functional right out of the box. But when consumers start using them, many find that they are craning their necks awkwardly, constantly wiping the screen with their sleeves or holding some readers to the light at night while straining to read others in the sun.
Help is at hand. The marketplace for e-reader and tablet accessories is booming; Amazon.com alone features more than 2,000 Kindle-related items. What accessories users want depends in large part on the e-readers they own.
Basic e-readers — like the Kobo Touch, the Sony Reader, the $79 Kindle and the Nook Simple Touch — use E Ink technology, which replicates the experience of reading on a printed page. Still, it can be hard to read at night on these devices, so a light accessory can be helpful.
Other e-readers — like the iPad, the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet — use LCD technology, which offers an enhanced visual experience so users can play games and watch video. Users can also read with ease at night on these tablets, so no extra light is needed.
E-readers also have different audio capabilities, which may determine what kind of audio accessory, if any, users want.
This guide assumes the user already has bought a case or pouch and a power adapter (if it was not included).
LIGHTS ON, LIGHTS OFF: For readers with E Ink, clip-on lights are available for $20 or less. They include LightWedge's Verso Clip Light ($15) and Mighty Bright's MiniFlex ($12).
M-Edge sells a nifty e-Luminator Touch book light on an attachment that resembles a paper clip for $20. It can be used with all e-readers as well as print books and magazines. It fits into a specially designed pocket sewn into all M-Edge jackets, sold separately for $40.
Kindle also combines a light with a cover with its Lighted Leather Cover, which costs $60 and comes in black, saddle tan, olive green or wine purple. The light draws power from the Kindle and needs no batteries.
SCREEN MANAGEMENT: For cleaning screens, an eyeglass cleaning cloth will work fine. Inexpensive screen protectors and wipes also are available. Lexerd offers the TrueVue ultra-clear film for Kobo, Sony and Nook e-readers at stores and on its website. Prices range from $10 to $30..
M-Edge sells anti-glare protectors for multiple devices with a cleaning cloth ($20). Marware.com sells a two-pack anti-glare screen protector for the Fire ($15) or its regular scratch-resistant clear protector, plus microfiber cleaning cloth and applicator ($15).
To avoid smudges on a tablet, users might also add stylus touch pens to their arsenals. The Glider from Splash, $22, plugs into any headphone jack. It feels like a pen and provides more accuracy in tapping.
Targus.com sells its Stylus for Capacitive Touch Devices, which is designed for any touch-screen, for $15.
AUDIO ENHANCEMENT: Some devices have no audio. Others have a standard 3.5-millimeter audio jack or speakers, or both. For these, it may be time to trade tired old black or white earphones for color with JBuds J5 earbuds. They cost $30 and come in colors like plum purple, blue steel and pink lemonade.
For women seeking a snugger fit and a bit more style, Altec Lansing Bliss headphones should do the trick, starting at $25.
Many readers have their own speakers, but for a richer audio experience, or for an e-reader without speakers, Chill Pill Audio mobile speakers ($50 in black, red, purple, pink and white) can amplify music, video or audio books. The speakers use the standard 3.5-millimeter audio cable that connects to a tablet.
For an accessory with multiple functions, consider a docking station that helps with audio. iLuv Creative Technology, just unveiled MobiDock, an audio docking station to be available at some retailers in May for $70.
The arms, which adjust for the Fire or Touch, hold the device in place, while the dock comes with a micro-USB port for charging.
Reader Dock is introducing recharging stations with built-in speakers for the Fire and Nook, available for pre-order March 1 to March 15 for $55 with free shipping. After that, the N-Station for the Nook Color and Tablet and the FireStation will cost $60.
REST THOSE HANDS: Holding a tablet for long periods is tiresome. Users pay extra for the tablet experience; they might as well incorporate a secure stand that charges and upgrades the audio.
A bare-bones traveling stand costs about $20. Jadu Industries' new Perch Stand for the Kindle Fire is $60 and is available in glossy silver or black.
For a stand that will also work with books, there is the budget-friendly BookGem for $15.