For my birthday two years back, my wonderful boyfriend got me one of the best gifts I could have asked for or imagined. He got me a Kindle. For a year and a half it was one of my most prized possessions. I would use it on a nightly basis and took it with me on all trips. Being small, compact, light and easy on battery, it was the perfect travel companion. But sadly, around 6 months ago, my Kindle met an unfortunate end.
So, for Christmas, that same wonderful boyfriend bought me a replacement. Only this time, he decided to go for a South African alternative and bought me the Gobii. So, having used the Gobii for a month, I thought that I would do a quick comparison between the two.
Let's start with the look. The two are of comparable size, but the Gobii is a little thicker and has a smaller screen. While the Kindle that I had was an older version with a keyboard, the Gobii only has 7 buttons on it - Menu, Font, Play/Pause, Back, Joystick/Select, Page Forward and Page Back. While this is convenient for keeping the Gobii's look clean and tidy, I did also find the keyboard on the Kindle very handy for search functionality, and it has been something that I've had to get used to.
The screen itself is very different on the Gobii. The wonder of the Kindle and the reason for it's energy efficiency is that it is entirely e-ink. This means that it uses very little power to change pages and uses no power at all while on a page, so the battery can last for months without needing to be charged. The Gobii is not e-ink. It is a normal screen, which can be damaging to your eyes if you stare at it for long enough, the same way as a computer screen would be. I have turned down the brightness of the screen to make it as easy on my eyes as possible, but in some ways I definitely prefer the Kindle screen. On the other hand, the Gobii can also be used for storing photographs and watching videos, which the Kindle could not do, and that is a very handy addition, particularly in terms of storing photographs as it would mean that I could bring it along to photography meetings and be able to have a portable digital portfolio that is a lot more convenient to carry than my laptop. The Gobii also has a colour display, which is more handy than the dull grey of Kindle.
Then you come to the support for each of the readers. The Kindle supported a number of formats including PDF and .mobi. The Gobii supports a smaller range of formats for books. Thankfully, I have got a program called Calibre which allows you to change the format of your books to support any ebook reading device, but it is a bit of a pain having to change the books before being able to put them onto the Gobii. Then you come to the Kalahari vs. Amazon debate. Gobii is supported by Kalahari where Kindle is supported by Amazon. Amazon definitely has a wider range of ebooks available and at a lower price, but they are all in dollars where the Kalahari alternatives are all in Rands. While Amazon has specials on ebooks often making them a lot cheaper, Kalahari offers more South African fiction and more payment options - cash payments, electronic transfers, credit card or any number of loyalty programmes such as eBucks and more.
Overall, I think that I prefer the Kindle because of the long lasting battery and the fact that after a year and a half, I got very used to using it. There were little things about it that I just preferred, like having page buttons on either side of the device where the Gobii only has them on one side, making lying on your right shoulder more uncomfortable in terms of turning pages. On the other hand, the Gobii is a good effort and has a number of features that the Kindle did not include. I am very happy with my Gobii and hope that I will get more used to it the longer I use it.