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I’ve been thinking about this one for a while now. I think the original list was close to ten items, which made it awkward as a practical holiday gift guide. I’ve finally narrowed it down to just five, some of which have some good Black Friday sales going on.

So here goes. You want to buy someone an ereader for the holidays. Which one should you get?

eInk Reader Holiday Gift Guide

We’ll start with the dedicated ereaders. eInk for many is easier on the eyes, and they are less expensive than the tablet options. So what are my recommendations?

Well, I have to start with the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.

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It’s a solid device with good features, and what many (myself included) consider the best ebook ecosystem. I buy most of my books from Amazon. Most of the time when I check prices, they are the lowest, and everything about the buying/downloading/archiving system is smooth and easy. If you’re buying for someone who’s never used an ereader, you’ll need to do the least tech support with a Kindle.

The device itself has a good screen, backlighting and easy to use menus with a touchscreen interface. I don’t own one, but the reviews have been almost universally favorable. You can’t go wrong with it.

WiFi or 3G? If the recipient doesn’t have easy access to WiFi, go with 3G. Otherwise, save your money (perhaps to load the device with gifted ebooks) and go with WiFi only. Access is becoming ubiquitous enough that she’ll be able to download purchases easily.

holiday gift guideIf your recipient lives out of the US or is anti-Amazon, I’d recommend the Kobo Glo. Why not the Nook Glo? Because B&N has made it ridiculously difficult to buy books or organize your library. Kobo’s experience isn’t on par with Amazon, but it’s workable.

The Kobo Glo reads ePubs, and some people prefer that format over Amazon’s. Book selection is close, based on what I’ve seen. Pricing is often higher than on Amazon when I’ve comparison shopped, but Kobo runs frequent sales and offers coupon codes almost every week. That’s another reason I recommend them over B&N. Your bargain hunter will probably be happier.

However, for most US recipients, I’d still recommend the Paperwhite over the Glo.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments. I don’t mind.

Tablet Reader Guide

So what if your intended recipient prefers more than just books? Video and gaming anyone? Good thing there’s a wider range of good choices here, starting with the excellent Google Nexus 7.

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I’m using last year’s version, and it’s a great ereader. You have access to all major bookstore apps plus several excellent third-party apps. As you already know, I like immersive mode with Kit Kat. Scribd is available as an ebook subscription service, and the app runs better on 4.4 than it does on 4.3, where it’s still a bit slow and buggy.

The hardware is solid. The device is fast, with a good screen and a few bells and whistles (like dual cameras). This tablet should last several years if treated with care. I like that you have access to all Android apps, from Google Play, to sideloaded to Amazon app store apps. There’s not much you can’t do with this tablet. Add a Bluetooth keyboard (which works under Kit Kat–finally!) and it’s not even a bad work device.

It’s on Black Friday sale in a few stores. $199 for the 16GB version at Staples and Office Depot. That’s a sweet price!

Next up, of course, is the Kindle Fire HDX, another good buy.

Amazon Image

For a device that will be used often as an ereader, I do recommend a 7″ (ish) device. I do occasionally read on my full size iPad, but it’s not comfortable in my small hands for long periods. If you are buying for someone with large hands, it might not matter as much, and the 8.9″ HDX is a good buy as well.

With a similar processor and slightly better screen than the Nexus 7, the HDX has solid specs. So when would you buy an HDX vs. a Nexus 7?

If your intended recipient is already invested in the Amazon system, the HDX makes sense.  It allows borrowing from the Kindle Lending Library, but the bigger attraction is downloading Prime Instant videos. Right now, the HDX is the only device to have that feature, and it’s a nice one.

Office Depot and Staples are having Black Friday deals. However, they aren’t discounts. Instead you’ll pay full price and receive a bonus $25 gift card. Amazon might have a lighting deal, though, so stay alert if an HDX is your choice. There are several deals out there for the older Fires, if those are an attractive option.

As an entertainment device, the HDX is top notch, but if you suspect your recipient might want it to double as a work machine, it’s not as good, and a Nexus 7 or my final recommendation might be a better choice.

I’ll end with the new iPad Mini with Retina display.Amazon Image

Surprised I left it until last? I played with one last weekend, and I wasn’t blown away. I find the size awkward. It’s too wide and narrow for my taste. And honestly, at $399 with few deal out there, it’s expensive. However, like the Nexus 7, it has access to a wide range of reader apps, including, of course, Marvin. The screen is gorgeous, and overall, I prefer iOS 7 to Android (but it’s getting closer). I use a 4th gen iPad for work, so I can attest that it’s a solid road warrior platform. While the size isn’t as attractive as the Nexus 7 as an ereading device, the slightly larger screen makes it a good work device. The iPad has access to both Scribd and Oyster, giving the most choice of ebook subscription services.

So there are my picks. Anyone giving (or hope to be receiving) a new ereader this year? I hope this will help guide you for your letter to Santa or in your shopping for others.

 
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