This is the year of the “eBook”, simply because eBook reader devices have gotten so inexpensive, finally hitting that sub-$100 mark. But how do you choose a device when there are so many available, each with different features?
Today we’ll take a closer look at four of the most popular eReaders currently available: the Amazon Kindle Keyboard, the new (“basic”) Amazon Kindle, the Kindle Touch 3G, and the Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch Reader. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and by examining each category in turn you’ll quickly be able to choose the right device for your needs.
BUILD & DESIGN
After having used each of the compared devices for at least a couple of weeks, We found all of them to be well built and solidly constructed. Should you end up having a problem with your device, you shouldn’t have any worries — Amazon’s customer service has a superb reputation, and with the NOOK, you have the option of getting free support at any B&N store in the country.
In other words, the device you choose will be based entirely on your personal needs. Do you need the absolute thinnest, lightest device, or would you prefer a slightly larger one if it has more features and capabilities? If you want the smallest possible device and will only use it to read eBooks, the basic Kindle model comes out on top. It’s so small that you could easily slip it into a large pocket in your coat or in your cargo pants, or into an organizational pocket in your purse or gear bag. It will even fit into the back pocket of your jeans. Just be careful not to sit on it.
The Kindle Touch 3G isn’t much larger than the basic Kindle, and it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two at a glance. The B&N NOOK Simple Touch Reader at about the same height as the base Kindle, but significantly wider since it has a much larger bezel around the display.
The Kindle Keyboard is notably larger than all of the other devices, but it only seems large in comparison to the others –it’s just one inch taller and 0.3 inches wider than the smallest Kindle, and weighs two-and-a-half ounces more. Then again, it is the most capable device, offering a full QWERTY keyboard and optional 3G wireless capabilities that can come in handy in a pinch.
All of the devices currently being considered use the same 6-inch eInk Pearl display. That means crisp text on a display that looks even better in direct sunlight than it does indoors. While many argue about which device has the fastest page turns, the differences are really too small to notice unless you’re straining to detect them.
No matter which device you choose, you’re getting a razor-sharp display, so the question here is whether or not you want a touch-sensitive display. The team at TabletPCReview typically prefers touchscreens because they are a bit more intuitive in the smartphone age.
Two of the models offer a touchscreen option: the Amazon Kindle Touch and the B&N NOOK Simple Touch Reader. They both work well, though the NOOK’s touchscreen interface is the strongest due to its stronger emphasis on graphics (book covers) instead of text (titles).
A quick bit of advice for touchscreen eReaders: be sure to use a screen protector to guard the display against everyday damage. And even though eInk displays are less prone to glare than LCDs, an anti-glare screen protector is a good choice to minimize glare from overhead lighting, especially if you tend to read at the office on your lunch break.
An eReader device will never replace your MP3 player or home stereo, but if you like to have background music playing while you’re reading a book, an Amazon Kindle Keyboard or a Kindle Touch would be the right device for you. Both of these models include speakers and a headphone jack so you can listen to MP3 music while you’re reading. They also include an “experimental” text-to-speech feature that turns any book into an audiobook (so long as the publisher allows it).
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