Ebook Reader Features And Buying Guide. How To Choose The Best e-Reader? While there are many models of e-readers available for purchase, there are some key features that all ebook readers share.
Some popular e-readers in the market are Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, Ematic Eglide, Sony Touch Readers, Skytex Primer Color Reader, and many more.
It’s important to realize that some of these models, like the Ematic Eglide and Skytex Primer, are more budget-friendly models and are not necessarily considered top of the line.
Mainly it is the Kindle and Nook that are top-of-the-line ebook readers and are considered to be the two top competitors in the industry.
The overall e-reader reviews for the Kindle and Nook are high from users, but the Kindle reviews are higher from both users and top industry authorities that all seem to agree that the Kindle is the best in ebook reading devices.
What is an ebook reader?
An ebook reader is a handheld mobile device that is used to display digital books and provide for the optimal reading experience. Thousands of books are now available in digital format including many classics. And with the increasing popularity of ebook readers, like the Amazon Kindle, most books today are being published in digital format as well.
Ebooks can be uploaded and read on many devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablet computers, like the iPad.
BUT, the main benefit of a dedicated eBook reader is that they are created with the main purpose of reading in mind and so they employ the e-Ink technology for the display screen which is the closest to real paper, can be read in bright sunlight without glare and there is no strain on the eyes as with LCD screens on smartphones and tablets.
In contrast to other devices, the E-Readers are made with only one purpose and that is to read and therefore that many are reading friendly features supported as well, such as dictionary definitions, the ability to make notes, shopping for books right from the device, annotation options, bookmarks and more.
Also, some of the high-end book readers have Web browsers, like the new Kindle Fire color book reader that offers movies, tv shows and games.
Check all the e-readers on Amazon.com
The Key Features Of Ebook Readers
While there are many models of ebook readers that each has specific features, there are some key features that all eBook readers share.
Most E-readers will be comfortable and easy to hold. They are lightweight, weighing less than paper books. They are controlled with either small buttons at the side or bottom of the reader, a keyboard, or a touchscreen in the models that support it.
All readers either have an e-Ink or Color LCD display. The particular size of the screen will depend on whether the reader has a physical keyboard or a touchscreen. Generally, most readers will use most of their space for the display.
The main distinction with ebook readers will be e-Ink versus color LCD. The evident drawback to e-Ink readers is that they cannot display in color, however, the e-Ink technology has its own perks like great battery life and reading in bright sun without glare or eyestrain, which reads like real paper.
The controls on most models of book readers are made to be simple, this means there will be a forward and backward page turn button, a directional navigation pad, as well as an on/off switch and a physical keyboard. Touch screen models of these devices have even less controls.
The majority of readers are linked to a particular eBook store. For instance, the Kindle is linked to the Kindle Store on Amazon.com, the Nook by Barnes and Noble allows users to get books from Barnes & Noble, etc… With some readers you are limited to purchasing books in those specific formats that their respective stores sell, but there are ways to get around this. Some readers support the ePub format which is more universal.
Most of the high end readers come with Wi-Fi Internet connections or 3G and some have both. Amazon offers free global 3G on their 3G Kindle Touch Screen Reader and the 3G Keyboard Kindle.
One of the biggest advantages of ebook readers versus other devices that can display ebooks, like the iPad and other tablets, is they cost much less.
Typically ebook readers can store at least 1500 books, but 3,500 ebooks are more typical, like with the Kindle and Nook.
The Kindle Fire color reader offers free cloud storage and also, ebooks can be stored locally on PC as archives so you do not need to have them all on the reader.
Some readers offer memory expansion with SD card slots, though most people will never need it unless the reader will also store, audiobooks, mp3 files, and picture files that take more space.
The Specs And Features To Consider When Buying E-Readers
An essential decision is to decide on an e-Ink black and white display or a color screen. e-Ink is the most popular with true reading lovers because it is most like paper.
- Pros of e-Ink
E-Ink is closest to real paper, and is grain free so it’s even better than paper
Read in bright sun, No Glare, No Eyestrain
Very long battery life versus LCD screens of color readers
- Cons of e-Ink
Sometimes can be slow to navigate
Sometimes when pages are turned there will be a quick flash of the screen
- Pros of Color Screens
LCD color screens can be read in the dark because of the backlight that e-Ink lacks
Images are seen better in color, like for reading magazines
Web surfing is great in color, like with the new Amazon Kindle Fire that offers tv shows and movies and supports picture files
Less of a delay between page turns
- Cons of Color Screens
LCD screens cause eye strain
Cannot be read in bright sunlight
Compare All Color Ebook Readers Here
Book reader screens are typically 6″ inches in size, though you may find slightly larger ones, like the Kindle DX that offers the 9.7″ screen and large font reading or even slightly smaller options. Most readers will allow you control fonts and sizes for more comfortable reading.
Size & Weight
Most eReaders are light enough to hold comfortably, many are lighter than the average paper book. There are a variety of sizes offered, like the Sony’s Pocket Edition that is small enough to fit into a pocket and Kindle or Nook that are a little larger but still very easy to carry around.`
Control Options For eBook Readers
There’s now more choice than ever before when it comes to the way you can control your eBook reader.
- Page Turn Buttons – use less battery
- Touchscreens – these are most intuitive
Prices Of Ebook Readers
One of the biggest pros for ebook readers versus other devices that can display digital books, like smartphones is they are much cheaper in price.
If you want to spend less on a book reader then you have the option to choose Kindle models that come with special offers and sponsored screensavers. These are readers on which Amazon will display ads when you are not reading and the Kindle goes to sleep and promise to never interrupt the reading experience. Price differences are $40 for all the models with ads versus the ones without.
Otherwise, you may choose the less known models like the Ematic eGlide or the Kobo Reader for $99, both good budget models.
Normally, eBook readers have at least enough memory to store 1,500+ eBooks. Kindle stores 3,500 books and Nook does the same. Also, ebooks can be stored locally on PC as archives so you do not need to have them all on the reader.
Some readers offer memory expansion with SD card slots, though most people will never need it, unless the reader will also store, audio books, mp3 files and picture files that take more space. Also the new Kindle Fire color reader comes with cloud storage that will store all your data on Amazon’s servers.
A very important consideration when buying an ebook reader and what may set different eReader models apart is the functions they include as a standard.
Reading functions are made to enhance the reading experience. For instance, you might want to highlight certain passages to refer back to at a later time, annotations and note taking within passages, changing font sizes and other such features. A built in dictionary that pulls up definitions by clicking on words while reading is important too. Most of the above come on the high end reader models, like Sony readers, Nook readers and Amazon’s Kindle models.
Another attractive feature is the text to speech that allows the reader to read to you. This is something that not all reader have, Kindle has it with the feature “Kindle Reads To You”. Nook and Sony DO NOT have this feature. Compare Nook vs Kindle and Kindle vs Sony Readers.
Extra Features of e-readers
Some readers have extra features.
- Video and photo viewers with color screen models, like Kindle Fire, Skytex Primer Color Reader and Nook Color.
- MP3 players
- Social networking options to share highlights and book passages with friends. Kindle and Nook have this feature
- Book sharing and Lend Books To Others – Kindle and Nook have this feature
- Free Book Samples, Kindle and Nook have this feature
- The new Kindle Touchscreen 3G/Wifi and Wifi Only touchscreen model offer the ability to borrow ebooks from public libraries
Internet Connectivity Options With Ebook Readers
The top models of readers have Internet connection usually in the form of WiFi, 3G, which is the fastest connectivity or both.
Kindle Fire features the Amazon Silk browser with WiFi. And, Amazon also offers, Kindle Touchscreen Wifi, the Touchscreen Kindle with global 3G + Wifi and the Kindle Keyboard with free 3G and Wifi, the basic $79 Kindle With WiFi, and generally all Kindle models have Wifi or 3G.
Nook has a new WiFi model.
Sony has the Sony Daily Edition 3G.
And the Pandigital Color Touchsreen reader with WiFi.
Most the web browsers that come with book readers are just okay, but are better than nothing, the Amazon Silk browser is notable and streams movies, tv shows, and more and is now available on the Kindle Fire
WiFi and/or 3G connectivity is important because they let you access official bookstores to buy eBooks directly from the device. The big players such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook all have this option, and have pretty big bookstores to shop with, that also have newspapers, magazines and blogs that can be sent directly to the book-reading device.
eBook Availability Considerations When Buying Ebook Readers
The range of eBooks available is probably the most important factor to consider when deciding which eReader to purchase. At present, the Amazon Kindle Store is the biggest eBook store out there, with many free books as well. However, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Sony all have decent bookstores too.
Regrettably, deciding on the store that suits you isn’t just a question of the one that has the largest selection because there in no one universal eBook format and each device has its own as descrived at the beginning of this ebook reader buying guide.
Amazon Kindle uses AZW format (or Mobi) – Most popular because of the huge selection of books.
Sony Reader uses BbeB/LRF.
ePub is an open source book format used by a range of readers such as Nook and Kobo, preferred due to it being open-sourced.
Free software programs like Calibre can convert eBook files from one format to another. And for reading on computers all major eBook manufacturers provide computer apps that make their eBooks readable desktops and Mac computers.
Battery life is an essential issue for any eBook reader and the life of which will greatly depend on the screen and having WiFi off.
e-Ink screens have a superb battery life, 1 month on most and 2 months in the best eBook readers such as the Kindle Touch and Nook Touch with WiFi off.
Color screens have much lower battery life.
Color screens require a constant backlight, and this means they are a bigger drain on the battery which means around 5-8 hours of reading with WiFi off.
The Need For Computers
The high-end models of readers, like Kindle and Nook, do not require a computer at all for use. Just take them out of the box and enjoy. Some models do, however, to get books and charge the battery, like the budget Skytex Primer on which you cannot load books onto the reader or organize files without connecting to a computer.
Reading Lights – Cool lights for readers that attach are great o read the e-Ink models in the dark.
Cases and Covers – These are important to help protect the devices from scratches and dirt. Some ebook readers come with them but most do not.
Cost Of eBooks Versus Paper Books
The question of the price of books is an important factor when buying ebook readers. While ebook readers will cost money upfront for the actual device, thousands of ebooks cost less than the average paperback or hardback for that matter.
The Kindle Store offers over 800,000 books at $9.99 or less and the average price of books at Barnes and Noble is $9.99 as well.
Plus with Kindle readers you can read for up to two weeks and return them if you would like.
There are quite a bit of free books available at the Kindle Store and at Barnes and Noble as well, including many of the classics.
However, it is true that some eBooks cost more than paper books, too. The best thing to do is browse the Kindle Store or Barnes and Noble to see the selection and prices before deciding if buying an ebook reader is for you.
eBook Reader Vs. Real Book Reading
One thing to take into account is whether or not its advantageous for you personally to get a reader or does reading with paper books meet your needs.
Things To Consider
One of the main benefits of an eBook reader is the wonderful fact of storing huge book libraries in a thing handheld and portable device, that weighs less than one book. This reduces clutter at home and allows you to choose from a wide variety of material to read when you are waiting at the doctors office, riding on a bus, traveling, on a plane, on the beach and anywhere else you can imagine.
The book reader with e-Ink offers better than paper reading experiences
The disadvantage of book readers is of course that they are not $10 items and also they are electronic and can break down. And, some people just love to read the real papers.
Really the decision is yours, but no one can deny that these are cool gadgets and totally modern portable devices and I hope this buying guide helps you to make an informed choice when it comes to buying a book reader.
User Ratings and Reviews
If you are still undecided which book reader is right for you, then check out the user reviews listed below for the various book readers.