Do internet browsers have a place over e-readers?

Do internet browsers have a place over e-readers?

Amazon Kindle and Kobo e-readers have experimental or beta Internet browsers. They’ve been running them for over a decade, and since these basic browsers were introduced, the internet has changed dramatically. Websites have gotten bigger, with more videos and multimedia improvements. Websites large and small run advertisements; some are pictures and videos. Many images are optimized with the webp standard or use SVG, which offers images in a next generation format, allowing them to load quickly on mobile and tablet devices. Kobo and Kindle e-reader browsers can run basic javascript and CSS but little else. I think it’s about time these companies get rid of their browsers or develop Chromium alternatives that meet modern web standards.

Amazon first developed the experimental browser in 2009, with the release of the Kindle, 2nd generation. They haven’t improved it over time and it’s the same software. If you decide to use the Experimental Browser to read news websites, tech blogs, or your favorite forum, it’s essential that you disable JavaScript. It prevents loads of code from plugins and scripts from loading and improves the browsing experience. When the browser opens, click on the three dots to the side and press Browser Settings and Disable JavaScript. When this was done, browsing websites like Good e-Reader became much more robust and scrolled down quickly. Because that’s how it is?

Most websites have a lot of code, especially those running content management systems, like WordPress. The more plugins a website has, the more JavaScript is called locally or externally. This can lead to long loading times on the Kindle browser, and scrolling down refreshes the code and loads again. By disabling JavaScript, performance increased by 70% on all websites I tested.

Kobo launched their internet browser in 2011 when they started to enter e-readers. The browser struggles with any complex website with images. It does a great job browsing Google or Reddit. One of the significant advantages of Kobo e-readers is that the browser is suitable for reading academic articles online or consulting Wikipedia. Since Kobo can read EPUB files, you can access any website you have, such as Google Drive. Kobo e-readers have native support for Dropbox which is very popular for hosting ebooks. Kobo also has Pocket, which you can send web articles to your e-reader and they turn into easy-to-read ebooks.

Most people with an e-reader either have a smartphone in their pocket at all times or travel with a laptop or tablet. You don’t need to have an Internet browser on an e-reader; who uses it anyway? Likely, like a small subset of users using the Kindle Experimental Browser or the Kobo Browser Beta, new features and improvements are simply not a priority.

Although the browsers on Kindle and Kobo suck, the same cannot be said of E INK tablets from Onyx Boox, Meebook or Bigme. All of them run modern versions of Google Android and have various speed modes to boost browser performance. This is done by increasing the refresh rate at the expense of image degradation. However, this is important for image-heavy websites. All of these companies have Google Play pre-installed so you can download Firefox, Chrome, Edge or Brave; there are tons of browsers out there with way more features. Browsers on Android e-readers and e-notebooks make a lot of sense because these products have massive CPU power and 2-6GB of RAM, so they can handle it. Considering the Kindle and Kobo use Linux, they only have 512MB of RAM and nothing but a dual-core processor.

Do you use internet browsers on your Kindle, Kobo or Android E INK tablets? What do you like or hate about them?

Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and New York Times have picked up his articles. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

#internet #browsers #place #ereaders
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