Tips for Buying an eReader

Why an eReader?

Since Amazon first introduced the Kindle in 2007, eReaders have slowly started to gain more prominence, and with their current Kindle models setting the bar for feature-heavy, sleek, and affordable readers, the mainstream future of these devices seems pretty viable.

You may have seen these in stores or even caught a glimpse of someone reading from one at an airport or on a bus, then wondered if they are simply an expensive toy or a worthwhile choice to consider. This article will cover a few key differences in eReader technology, provide some insight into the expected cost of eBooks and electronic publications, and offer a few choices on what models to consider, and what ones to avoid, both on Black Friday and this holiday season.

Why Choose an eReader?
Essentially another electronic device with memory, albeit one specialized for reading, eReaders allow you to carry up to thousands of different books with you at any one time, a great feature to have if you’re tired of lugging around multiple books in your bag. Even if you only carry one at a time, these devices let you carry several books, magazines, and newspapers in the same space taken up by a single book.

Much like the MP3 player did with music, the eReader gives you the option to carry an entire library worth of books in one device. And these readers do not cater to books alone. Some models allow you to view Microsoft Word documents and PDFs, as well as daily and monthly periodicals. More advanced e-readers offer wi-fi and 3G capability.

These eReaders are hoping to gain a market with not only those looking for all-in-one portability. As a paperless device, eReaders will also inevitably appeal to people who would like to cut down on their paper consumption.

An iPad Competitor?
Since some of these readers come with a slick LCD screen and lots of media capability, a few have been tagged as possible competitors to the iPad. While this comparison nearly always falls short of the capabilities possessed by the iPad, the few that bring up the comparison still have one large advantage: price. Two such devices that take aim at the iPad market are the Pandigital Novel and the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.

The Pandigital Novel (available at Best Buy , hhgregg and KMart for $139 and RadioShack for $149 on Black Friday) supports eBooks, pictures, games, music, and movies, all in a touch screen device. Sound familiar? The Nook Color offers similar multimedia capability, although it does not offer access to the Android marketplace. It is not offered as a deal on Black Friday but can be found at Barnes & Noble for $249.

In addition to their media capabilities, these two share a lot of media in common since both feed into Barnes & Noble’s online bookstore. This also means that they both have a very cool feature found on both: the LendMe option, which lets you share eBooks with friends, family, and other users for two weeks. While this does require you to find people with similar eReaders, there are places online where you can connect, and hopefully share, your eBooks with other readers.

Reviews that tried to compare these two devices to the iPad found them sluggish in comparison, simply lacking the ease of use in the Apple device. If you also take into account internal memory, the iPad’s basic 16GB model carries 8 times the space of these 2GB readers. In a head-to-head comparison with the iPad, the Novel and Nook Color stand no chance. Yet if you consider the price difference – the Nook Color is half the cost of a 16GB iPad and the Novel normally retails for $180 – you may find that the drop in quality may indeed be worth it. Sure, one side says that these lack the straight-ahead focus of an E-Ink reader and the other believes these can’t compete with the iPad, but if you’re looking for a modestly priced merging of both worlds, keep these in mind.


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November 22, 2010
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