How to Pick the E-Book Reader that is Right For You
People who are thinking of buying a device to read e-books face a bewildering range of options and choices. Sadly, people buy a device before they really understand what e-books are, and how they work, and which devices are best for which kind of e-book or e-publication. I was reading a publication about all these issues and there is contained in the document a helpful summary of the differences across e-book devices, smartphone and tablets. I’ll summarize that information below, and provide some short, to-the-point advice.
E-Readers (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, etc.)
Primary User Interaction: Consume e-books
Display size: Medium
Display font: grayscale
Display speed: slow
Connectivity: 3G and/or wireless
Battery life: Long
Outdoor use: Excellent
Best content match: Books in linear format (straight running text)
Is a dedicated e-book reader right for you? If your primary interest, mind you, *primary* interest is reading e-books, a dedicated e-reader is the way to go. The display is very easy on the eyes. They are light. They have become more fast. They can be used, easily, in bright sunshine or anywhere where the ambient light is strong and there is no glare. They are the closest thing to reading an actual page in an actual book. BUT…if you want to do *anything* more than read e-books you will quickly be frustrated with dedicated e-book readers, like the Kindle and Nook, to whatever degree they offer you internet access, the interface is very difficult to manage. If you want more than e-book reading function, then you should consider a tablet.
Primary User Interaction: Communication
Display size: small
Display format: color, increasingly in very high resolution
Display speed: Fast
Connectivity: Full voice/graphics on 3 and 4 G networks, where available
Battery life: short
Outdoor use: Fair to poor
Best content match: News and single media
Is a smartphone the best choice for you? It’s kind of a moot point, since most smartphones will make it possible for you to install an application, like the Kindle app, and you can read e-books on your smartphone. If you prefer a small, compact, all-in-one device that also makes it possible for you to read books, the smartphone will, by default, be your best choice.
Primary user interaction: Engagement in media experience
Display size: medium
Display format: color in increasingly high resolution
Connectivity: Full data
Battery life: medium
Best content match: magazines/multimedia
Is a tablet the best choice for you? If you want more than a simple e-book reader, like having access to the Internet, easily, for checking/responding to e-mail, or texting, or if you intend to consume a lot of multimedia, such as movies and music, and you want a larger display size, a tablet is right for you. But, be prepared, reading books on a tablet is not as pleasant as on, for example, a Kindle. There is glare and you are reading a backlit display. It is nearly impossible to use it outside, even in the shade.
Based on this information, here are my recommendations:
My recommendation for dedicated e-book reader: Kindle, hands down the best choice.
My recommendation for a smartphone that does it all? iPhone
My recommendation for a tablet? iPad, though I do not consider the iPad the best choice for straight reading of books though.