Which e-Book Reader Should You Buy?
Amazon has a big hit in the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. There’s a lot to like about this portable, single-purpose device that does its job so well. But there are other excellent alternatives available. Read on to see how they compare...
Real Paper or Paperwhite?
Some people love the tactile sensation (and maybe even the smell) of reading a real paper book. But millions of people are finding it more convenient to carry around their reading library in a small portable gadget called an e-reader.
I've been asked “Do you need a dedicated e-book reader?” Why not just use a tablet to read e-books, or even a desktop or laptop computer? A lot of people do, and an iPad, Ultrabook or even a clunky old desktop PC is certainly adequate for displaying plain text, bookmarking passages, flipping virtual pages, and managing a digital library. The free Kindle app on whatever hardware is handy is all that casual readers require.
But hardcore bibliophiles won’t settle for “adequate,” even though it’s free, just like pool sharks won't settle for house cues. They want the “best,” with bells and whistles and “thoughtful touches.” They want an ideal hardware/software platform that perfectly understands how they read, that anticipates all their reading desires and exists solely to fulfill them. In other words, they want unconditional love from a machine, and they’re willing to pay for it.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite comes in two connectivity flavors: WiFi only and WiFi plus 3G cellular capability. Each model has two price points: one with “special offers” (ads) that display when you are not reading, and one without. The ad-laden versions are $119 for WiFi only and $189 for 3G too. Opting out of “special offers” costs an extra $20. (As of 3 Aug 2014, Amazon is showing a "today only" $20 discount on Paperwhites)
Fans of the Paperwhite claim it’s “the ideal e-reader.” Using it is as intuitive as using a book, they say. Plus, the backlighting is infinitely adjustable for comfortable reading in any ambient lighting conditions. Text size is adjustable too, of course. Battery life is astounding; one Paperwhite owner who claims to read “a lot of books” says he’s recharged his Paperwhite only twice in three months. Owners of power-hungry smartphones who charge twice DAILY find this hard to believe.
The Paperwhite can be held and used with one hand. At just 7.3 ounces and a slim 6.7" x 4.6" x 0.36" it fits in a pocket easily. Its 2 GB of memory will hold 1,100 e-books comfortably. It can read Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
Old-School Book or New-Fangled NOOK?
Barnes & Nobles’ NOOK Simple Touch e-reader is priced at $119 and has only WiFi connectivity. It’s about a half-inch wider and a quarter-inch shorter than the Kindle Paperwhite, yielding a squarer shape that still fits in a pocket. The NOOK is 16 grams heavier than the Kindle, a trivial difference. You won't miss having 3G connectivity, unless you find yourself trapped in a cheap motel that doesn't have wifi, and you absolutely must download a new ebook RIGHT NOW.
Display resolution is more important. The advantage goes to Kindle Paperwhite with 212 pixels per inch vs. NOOK Simple Touch’s 167. The Kindle’s backlighting is more even and white, too. Both Kindle and NOOK claim that you'll experience no glare - even in bright sun.
The NOOK's web page says you can read for over 2 months on just one charge. But down in the small print you'll find this caveat: "A single charge lasts for over two months with wireless off, based upon a half hour of daily reading time. Actual results may vary." I think it's a given that your results WILL vary. Why not just say the battery life is about 30 hours?
CNET's favorable "Best E-ink Reader" is dated 06/01/2011. Other reviews on the NOOK site such as "Superb Reading Machine" (NY Times) and "The eReader You Want" (Gizmodo) are undated, which leads me to believe they are even older, and therefore not applicable to the current product line.
An Aura of Readability
The Kobo Aura e-reader lists for $149. For that extra money you get 4 GB of memory instead of the 2 GB in the Kindle and NOOK, plus a high-res display of 1024 x 758 pixels. You can browse the Web with a Kobo Aura, and read e-books borrowed from public libraries. (Kindle also supports this.)
Kobo offers an array of e-reader products, including the 5-inch Kobo Mini ($59), and the 6-inch Kobo Touch ($99). Both of those models lack a frontlight, which means no reading in the dark. The Kobo Glo ($129), Aura ($149) and Aura HD ($169) add frontlighting and progressively higher resolution screens and longer battery life. The Kobo Arc lineup features Android-powered general purpose tablets, similar to the Kindle Fire line from Amazon.
The Kobo “experience” encompasses access to over 4 million books, news articles, comics, and children’s titles. You can track your reading habits, which means Kobo can, too. Enrollment in “Kobo Reading Life” connects you to other Kobo owners so you can share books and discuss them.
These proprietary ebook readers serve primarily as sales funnels for ebook sales, and try to lock you into reading only with those devices. Amazon and B&N both make it hard to buy from other vendors. For example, you don't have the option on a Kindle or Nook to decide what ebook store you'll use.
Kobo is a bit different. They do have their own bookstore, but you can also purchase titles from other ebook retailers. You'll find the Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) software handy for converting ebooks to the open EPUB format that Kobo uses.
Buying a tablet or e-reader is one of those things that is best done in a physical store where you can see and compare models in person. So a trip to the mall or a local electronics megastore may in order, even if you prefer to buy online after making your informed choice about which e-reader is best for you.
Do you have a Kindle Paperwhite, a Nook Simple Touch, a Kobo Aura, or maybe some other e-reader? Tell me why you like it. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Aug 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Which e-Book Reader Should You Buy? (Posted: 4 Aug 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved