eReaders are all the rage among avid readers and gadget geeks alike. If you don’t already own a tablet or a smartphone, an eReader could be the perfect gift for yourself or for someone else. But not all eReaders are created equally—and price isn’t always a reasonable gauge of quality. When shopping for eReaders or eBook readers, keep the following in mind.
This is the most notable feature when comparing eReaders side-by-side, and it’s a bit more difficult to gauge in terms of technical specifications. eReader screens are usually measured diagonally and range from five to ten inches. Generally, the bigger the screen, the higher the price. As such, you might want to go for a six inch screen, which provides a good balance between price, portability and viewing area.
Most eReader manufacturers tout their screen technology heavily. These vary widely, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Amazon Kindle has e-Ink which looks great in bright sunlight and uses very little battery life. However, e-Ink doesn’t feature color (yet) and you’ll need a reading light in the dark, since it doesn’t have a backlight. Some eReaders have touchscreens, which may help you navigate, but some reviewers report that touchscreen eReaders have less crisp text.
Many eReaders come with 3G and/or WiFi that lets you sync content and download new eBooks without connecting to a computer. While this can be a convenience, adding this functionality can be costly. Furthermore, some 3G tablets or eReaders require a contract for service. Before investing in a 3G or WiFi eReader, make sure you strongly consider the costs of this convenience and whether it’s worth it. You may simply want to connect your eReader to your computer and sync it that way—it could save you up to $100.
You won’t be playing games, shooting HD video or doing any other processor intensive tasks with your eReader, but it’s still important that your eReader have reasonably fast performance. Lower power consumption means longer battery life, but faster boot up times and quicker wake/restore times may make it better for off and on reading on the go.
What else can your eReader do? Most eReaders are designed to work with the proprietary format from the manufacturer, but many eReaders can accept books in formats from other types of eReaders. Some eReaders can double as digital photo frames or MP3 players, too. Before choosing an eReader, decide if you’d rather be a Nook, Kindle, iBooks or Sony eBook customer. Browse their catalogues and see what types of titles they have and their general pricing.
Before you buy an eReader, consider your various options and reader plenty of consumer reviews. Use these tips as guidelines as you make your decision.