Choosing the Best E-Reader … for me, and for you
September 11, 2012 | 5:42 pm
By Cara Gavin
As someone looking to join the e-reader world, I feel cautious about which device to choose. What with the new lines of Amazon and Kobo e-readers that just launched, and the fact that new tablets are coming out quicker than most people can keep track of them, there almost seems to be too many options.
There are backlit and front-lit devices to think about; there are E Ink screens and LCD screens; there are touch-screens and page-turning tabs and ads and perks … the task feels daunting.
Thankfully, I recently stumbled upon a Tech News Daily article that helps consumers choose which e-reader is best for them. I delved right in, looking to find the answers to my e-reader questions.
Should I get a tablet or an e-reader?
Usually, I would jump right into tablets with their color screens, fancy apps, and ability to watch video and browse the Internet. They seem like the logical choice since you can do so many things on one device. But I’m looking to do some serious reading, and the tablets just don’t seem to cut it. E-readers are cheaper, they won’t have that annoying glare in sunlight, and I like that they’re designed with one purpose in mind. For me, tablets are out.
Do I want to type or tap?
The consumer electronics industry is definitely moving to touch screens, but there are still those who prefer to use a physical keyboard. Amazon offers its Kindle Keyboard 3G for $139 (or $159 without Amazon’s Special Offers), while its standard Kindle—recently knocked down to $69 for the Special Offers Version—uses simple page-turning buttons and a five-way controller button. Kindle Paperwhites and Nook e-readers both operate via touch screen. Personally, I’m used to touch screens, and I don’t feel the need to have a full keyboard. Looks like I want to tap.
Kindle vs. Nook: Which has the better display?
Originally, Amazon claimed that its trademark grayish background was easier on the eyes for longer periods of reading. Their new Kindle Paperwhites, however, have E Ink displays that are front-lit—not lit from below, like the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. They also have a much whiter background against black text. Or as Amazon describes it, the Paperwhite offers “exceptional lighting uniformity and evenly balanced whiteness across the entire display.” That has me leaning toward the Paperwhite.
Do I want to read in bed?
Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight was the first e-reader to have a built-in light, allowing users to read in the dark without disturbing their partners. Amazon, however, has added adjustable lighting to its Paperwhite, which is also said to have up to eight weeks of battery life (with the light at half-brightness and the Wi-Fi turned off). That’s based on a half-hour of reading per day, which means a full hour of reading per day should give you roughly 30 days of battery life.
Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, claims that the GlowLight’s battery will last for 30 days, based on a half-hour of GlowLight-enabled reading per night. Assuming those stats are accurate, the Paperwhite offers twice as much battery life as the GlowLight.
What about book selection?
Barnes & Noble claims to have the “world’s largest bookstore” with 2.5 million titles. Amazon says it has a “massive selection,” along with 180,000 exclusive-to-Kindle titles. Both offer New York Times bestsellers, with comparable prices. There seems to be very little difference between the two selections, so this does not affect my choice a great deal.
Do I get any perks?
If I sign up for Amazon Prime, a $79 yearly membership service that includes free two-day shipping purchases, I could choose one book a month to read for free, including books from the Harry Potter series.
Barnes & Nobles’ $25-a-year membership program doesn’t offer much for Nook owners; discounts apply only to physical books. Nook owners can, however, read any e-book for free–for an hour a day–over the Wi-Fi at B&N’s brick-and-mortar bookstores. But e-readers are meant to make reading easier and more convenient; I don’t feel like traveling to the bookstore just to read for an hour a day.
Amazon also offers trade-ins on old Kindles, and both devices enable you to borrow e-books from public libraries. Amazon appears to have more in the ways of perks.
So, which device have I chosen?
The Kindle Paperwhite! At $119, it’s cheaper than a tablet. It comes with a touch screen and adjustable lighting, so I can read in bed. It has a better display than the Nook; it also comes with more perks. After doing the research, it feels like there’s only one e-reader choice for me.
What other models are available?
If you’ve found that your preferences don’t match mine, check out the list of e-reader models below. Any tips? Share ‘em in the comments section.