An e-book reader, also called an e-reader, recreates the traditional experience of reading a book on 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-book readers can have a virtual library of books and magazines that makes them convenient and popular. With some e-book readers, you can also highlight passages, take notes, and save clippings from books, magazines, and newspapers.
The e-reader market is growing rapidly; e-book sales soared 250% in 2010 and the publishing industry estimates that e-book and periodical sales may represent up to 30% of the market by 2012.
Here are some of the features to consider, along with price, before purchasing an e-reader for yourself or a loved one:
Design: Some e-readers have touch screen controls, while others use navigation buttons along the sides and bottom of the reader. Some models have a keyboard for adding notes or searching for titles.
Screen Size: Screens range from 5 to 10 inches measured diagonally. Most e-book readers have a 6 “screen that makes them lightweight and portable.
Wireless Capability – 3G and WiFi connectivity make downloading books and periodicals quick and easy. Models with 3G technology allow you to download content directly to your device wherever there is a 3G network. Those with WiFi give wireless access to a home network or WiFi access point. 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 – It is very important to know what content is available for your e-reader brand. There are currently more titles available for the Kindle than any of the other devices. The selections from Amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble 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 you don’t have to worry if you forget to bring your travel charger. Disabling the wireless feature on your device will extend battery life between charges.
Other Features: Most models have an adjustment for screen contrast (or grayscale level) to make it easier to read. Some include audio options for audio books and text-to-speech capabilities.
These are the pros and cons of the top 3 e-readers on the market today:
Pros: easy to use, free access to AT&T WiFi networks, price.
Cons: No support for library books and epub multimedia, no color screen.
Bottom Line: The Kindle 3 is the leading e-book reader available and offers the most value for your money.
Barnes & Noble Nook
Advantages: support Android applications, expandable storage, large collection of e-books.
Cons: heavier than other e-readers, no text-to-speech function, shorter battery life.
Conclusion: The Nook is best suited for casual readers and young readers. For readers looking for a cheaper alternative to an iPad, Nook is it.
Pros: Comfortable to hold, preloaded with 100 free e-books, excellent screen contrast.
Cons: Wireless capability is limited to the Kobo store, books cannot be downloaded 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-book reader comes down to personal preference. Therefore, you may want to stop by your favorite bookstore or electronics store and test the appearance of the device you are considering.