With Apple unveiling the new iPad 2 it got me to thinking if upgrading from my original iPad was worth it for me. The more I thought about it, the more I realize that I mostly read books on the iPad I have now. If you are wanting something that you can use for reading books as your main usage, better than a tablet might be one of the hoards of eReaders on the market today.
The commonality between all the eReaders tech wise tends to be that they all use screens that have no backlight. This is a good and bad thing. It’s good because the screen on the eReaders is very easy on the eyes and you can read them in bright rooms and outdoors without glare. No backlight also means that the battery lasts longer.
The downside of the screens on most eReaders is that they can't show color or video. The Nook has a second color LCD too, but it's mostly for surfing the Barnes & Noble bookstore. One of the key differences between some of the cheap eReaders and the ones that cost a bit more like the Kindle 3G is an internet connection. A bunch of the Kindles on the market today have free 3G connectivity. That might not seem like such a big deal since most also have WiFi until you are out traveling and need a new book.
The screen size is also another key difference between different brands of eReaders. The larger the screen, the more text you can get on the page at one time. This is a big deal if you are a fast reader. Small screens drive me crazy because I end up constantly flipping pages. This is why I can't read on my iPhone.
The single biggest difference between brands is the bookstore the devices are tied to. The iPad has a large bookstore, but one of the best is Amazon and its huge assortment of Kindle offerings. You can get just about any new book on the Kindle and Amazon has a robust catalog of older titles and even some niche titles like science fiction and horror books. Battery life will also be where some tablets set themselves apart from others. Generally all eReaders have good battery life since the screens use little power. If you are in the eReader market I will run down some of the top eReaders for you here.
One of the most popular and best-priced eReaders on the market considering the features is the Kindle 3G. The reader sells for about $190 and comes in graphite or white colors. The device has free 3G connectivity so you can download books wherever you might be. The screen has no glare and new books can download in only 60 seconds. The battery is good for a full month with wireless off and the device has WiFi for use at home. The screen is an E Ink 6-inch and that 3G connectivity works in 100 different countries.
If you like the idea of the Kindle 3G, but you don’t need the 3G connectivity because you never travel and would like to save some money the Kindle WiFi is the perfect choice. It's exactly the same as the Kindle 3G minus the 3G connectivity. The best thing about the Kindle WiFi is that it sells for about $140, making it about $50 cheaper than the 3G version. The battery is good for a month and the WiFi only version is slightly lighter than the 3G version of the Kindle.
If the 6-inch screen of the Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3G is just too small for you, the Kindle DX with its giant 9.7-inch E Ink screen may be just what you need. The DX has integrated 3G and WiFi. It can download a full book in under 60-seconds and has a week's worth of battery life with wireless on and up to three weeks with it off. The device has enough storage for 3,500 books. The DX also has a text-to-speech feature that will read the books to you. The DX measures 10.4" x 7.2" x 0.38". You can buy the Kindle DX right now for $379.
If you want an eReader that also has a LCD that can show color when you are shopping for books the Barnes & Noble Nook is the product for you. The Nook has WiFi only and has a screen with 16 levels of gray. The screen is a 6-inch unit and the Nook has a microSD card slot for storage expansion. Under that black and white screen is a small color LCD that lets you see the books you are thinking of buying in full color. The colors screen is 3.5" and the battery is good for up to ten days per charge. The extra LCD really cuts the battery life compared to the Kindle offerings. The WiFi only Nook is $159.99.
If you like the B&N Nook, but wish it had 3G connectivity so you can get books wherever you might be the 3G version of the Nook is $199.99. It is the same as the WiFi only version with the same specifications and screen size. It will weigh a bit more and have slightly less battery life when wireless is on. B&N also has a Nook Color that has only the LCD making the whole screen color. The screen is 7-inches and the device will show you magazines and other publications that have color drawings. The only downside is shorter battery life, glare issues, and the price at $275.99.
If you need an eReader that is a bit smaller than the normal units Sony has a Digital Reader Pocket Edition with a 5-inch screen. Sony has been in the eReader market longer than most other companies have, but their products are not as popular. The Pocket Edition can store up to 350 books and measures 9" x 6" x 2.1". It supports PDF, RTF, TXT, and BBeB formats. The Pocket Edition sells for $116.99, which isn't much less than the more fully featured WiFi Kindle. The biggest downside here is the lack of a large book store tie-in.
This list has some of the best eReaders that are on the market today. You can find cheaper units if you go with an off brand, but you really get what you pay for in the eReader market. Enjoy your reading!