I had a mini debate/discussion with the readers over at MobileRead about whether backlights were important. I thought that they were and wouldn’t buy a reader without one. Most everyone over there thought that backlights were really secondary to the better display of an e-ink device. What say you?
If you don’t have an ereader with a backlight, you’ll have to get a booklight. Here are some booklights that I have used in the past:
- Zelco bitty booklightI bought at Barnes and Noble because a) BN would have the best booklight available, right? And this one is packaged just for readers. It also had a battery pack and an AC adapter. I thought I would really appreciate the convenience of the battery pack while traveling and the AC adapter at home. Yet, the AC adapter cord was short and I often found myself fumbling around for an outlet near the bed. (hotels weren’t always so tech friendly). The battery pack convenient but it relied on 4 C! batteries which turned the itty bitty book light into a behemoth thing. Basically, the 4 C battery pack defeated the whole idea of the portability of the booklight. There was always a cord dangling from the itty bitty booklight (either to the AC adapter or the battery adapter) so you could only lay on one side or else the cord was all entangled in your body. Everytime I adjusted my body, I had to adjust the stupid cord. Can you tell I had trouble with this thing? The batteries wore out quickly and the light bulbs burned out too. Maybe the worst part (besides being choked by the cable as I tried to get comfortable reading in bed) was that this thing is a great big paper clip and on paper back books, I had to paperclip about 20 pages together in order to prevent the itty bitty booklight from tearing the back cover off. D for the itty bitty booklight.
- So I thought I was done with the clip on booklights and tried the lightwedge. Another failed Barnes and Noble purchase. Obviously I wasn’t thinking when I bought this sucker. Do you know that you have to move the wedge EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU TURN THE PAGE. Yep. If you don’t, then the words from the previous page blur the current page. It’s like you are reading on top of a lightbox (one of those things used for tracings). And the booklight comes in paperback and hardcover size so I bought the paperback size because I mostly read paperbacks. When I did read a hardcover, I had to move the wedge up and down to cover the entire page. Plus, you have to pretty much hold onto to the book and the booklight unless you are reading a hardcover on a flat surface which is really a common way to read books. NOT. The wedge scratches easily and must be used with the tenderest of care. It’s really not made for travel. Who is designing these booklights? D for the Wedge.
- It was back to the clip on lights. This time I went for small, small, small, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the book light ripping apart my paperback book. I went for integrated battery so I wouldn’t choke myself on the cord. I bought this booklight at Waldens. I bought 5 of them before I gave up on it altogether. It is powered by large watch batteries which I could not find locally so when the booklight died, I bought another one. Unfortunately, the power of the booklight barely lasted through one book. Further, you kind of had to manuever the head of the booklight so that the page was illuminated. At its brightest power, it could cast light on both pages, but that bright light barely lasted. It did come in a variety of colors though. This one is Ned’s. He never throws anything away. I am sure mine are at the landfill somewhere. D for the mini clip on.
- Because I can’t get enough of a good thing, I tried one more time. The FlipLight T1000 had a larger clip but also featured an integrated battery pack. Because it ran on 4 AA batteries, it would be easy to replace the power supply. This did illuminate both pages very well, but because of the battery pack, you need to support both the booklight and the book in your right hand. As you can see by the picture, it drags down the book. C for the FlipLight.
Alas, booklights and I have never had a positive relationship. I can’t imagine having to use a clip on booklight for an ereading device. The ability to have the light integrated into the device is quite important to me. Is it important to you? Drop a comment either way and I’ll enter you to win a four pack of Johanna Lindsey reprints: The Pursuit, Love Me Forever, Joining, and The Heir.