An e-book reader, also called an e-reader, recreates the traditional experience of reading from a book to a portable electronic device. While there are a variety of e-book readers available, the most popular are the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Nobles Nook, and the Kobo e-reader.
E-readers can hold a virtual library of books and magazines which makes them both convenient and popular. With some e-readers you can also highlight passages, take notes, and save clippings from books, magazines, and newspapers.
The e-reader market is growing rapidly; the sale of electronic books skyrocketed 250% in 2010 and the publishing industry estimates that sales of ebooks and periodicals may account for up to 30% of the market by the year 2012.
Here are some of the features you should consider, along with price, before purchasing an e-reader for yourself or a loved one:
Design – Some e-readers feature touchscreen controls while others use navigation buttons along the sides and bottom of the reader. Some models have a keyboard for adding notes or for browsing titles.
Screen Size – Screens range from around 5 to 10 inches measured diagonally. The majority of e-readers feature a 6″ screen which makes them light and portable.
Wireless Capability – 3G and WiFi connectivity make downloading books and periodicals a quick and easy process. Models with 3G technology allow you to download content directly to the device wherever a 3G network exists. Those with WiFi give wireless access to a home network or WiFi hotspot. Others, like the Kobo or Sony models, require you to connect the device to a computer to transfer content to the device via a USB cable.
Content – Knowing what content is available for your brand of e-reader is very important. Currently there are more titles available for the Kindle than any of the other devices. Selections from Amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble do overlap but there are always exceptions.
Battery Life – The last thing you want is to suddenly run out of power in the middle of your reading experience. Longer battery life means less recharging and not having to worry if you forget to bring your charger with you on a trip. Turning off the wireless feature on your device will extend battery life between charges.
Other Features: Most models feature an adjustment for screen contrast (or grayscale level) for ease of reading. Some include audio options for audio books and text-to-speech capabilities.
Here are the Pros & Cons of the Top 3 ereaders on the market today:
Pros: Easy to use, free access to AT&T WiFi networks, price.
Cons: No support for epub media and library books, no color screen.
Bottom Line: The Kindle 3 is the leading eBook reader available and provides the most value for your money.
Barnes & Noble Nook
Pros: Supports Android applications, expandable storage, large e-book collection.
Cons: heavier than other e-readers, no text-to-speech feature, shorter battery life.
Bottom Line: The Nook is best suited for the casual reader and young readers. For readers who are looking for a cheaper alternative to an Ipad, Nook is it.
Pros: Comfortable to hold, pre-loaded with 100 free e-books, excellent screen contrast.
Cons: Wireless capability is limited to the Kobo store, can’t download books directly to the reader, no audio support.
Bottom Line: The Kobo is a good choice for a basic e-reader without a lot of bells and whistles found on other e-readers.
Making Your Decision
Choosing an e-reader boils down to personal preferences. Therefore you may want to stop in at your favorite bookstore or electronics store and test out the look and feel of the device you are considering.