One of the hottest gadgets this holiday season is the e-reader. Avid readers love their extensive libraries, parents are scooping them up as educational gifts, and travelers prize them for portability.
The Kindle by Amazon and the Nook from Barnes & Noble are the leading e-readers currently available – both have seen great success thanks to comprehensive libraries and a price tag that won’t break the bank. However, there are several versions of both the Nook and Kindle, not to mention the many alternative e-readers on the market. What’s the difference, and how do you find the one that best suits you?
Though pricing and size should be taken into account, these tend to be fairly universal. For the most basic e-reader, you’ll be looking at spending about $100. Screen size is going to be between 6” and 7” diagonally for even higher-end readers, although there are a few big-screen alternatives (Kindle DX, iPad 2.) There’s also the matter of the type of display, be it e-ink (a low-glare option that mimics paper) or a full color display.
What really makes each reader unique are the features it offers. Many are touchscreen, WiFi enabled, and able to store media such as music and movies in addition to your books. Most have built-in dictionaries, and there will also be features unique to each vendor.
Barnes & Noble offers a feature on all Nooks that allows owners to download and read entire books for free while inside one of their stores. There is also a memory card slot in every Nook, so that you can carry more media than the device can handle on its own (up to 32 GB.)
Amazon offers their cloud service, which backs up all your media to their servers in case of data loss, so that you can easily restore it to your device. Kindle also runs directly off the Amazon Market, although the Kindle Fire has been under attack for its one-touch purchasing option.
The best readers on the market, apart from the Nook and Kindle, are Apple’s iPad 2 and the Sony Reader. The iPad 2 is a full tablet, with a built-in camera, more than 500,000 apps available, access to most book marketplaces, and a price tag to match. This powerful machine starts at $499 and can cost more than $800, but is one of the best complete tablets on the market. The Sony Reader is much more of a classic e-reader, going for just $100. Though it does lack in features somewhat, Sony offers the unique ability to wirelessly borrow books while in your public library.
Still not sure which reader is right for you? Take a look at how they measure up: