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Some Tips When Purchasing An E-book Reader or Tablet

November 14, 2012

Fun electronic devices have become a favorite gift of givers everywhere. With Christmas coming I would like to offer a few suggestions if you are thinking of buying an e-book reader or tablet as a gift for someone.

Classic e-book readers like the basic Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook Simple Touch are devices that are primarily designed for reading e-books. They have a matte finish to the screen to cut down on glare and use technology that duplicates a white page with black print. This provides the clearest text display. They use technologies such as E Ink that rely on reflected ambient light to illuminate their screen which extends the life of the battery. However, it means they are difficult to read in the dark. With the Kindle, you select content and turn pages using buttons or bars built into the reader. The Nook has a touch screen display.

These devices require the least amount of comfort with technology. Reading a book simply requires selecting the title from a list and using the page turn buttons to go from page to page. Users can increase the font size and the Amazon Kindle can read the book to you, although it uses a mechanical voice. These types of e-book readers may also be easier for someone with limited hand mobility or fine motor skills to use.

Tablets such as the Kindle Fire, the Nook HD, Apple iPad and MANY others are really just small computers. They require a certain level of computer competency to operate including familiarity with connecting to wireless networks, setting preferences and the terminology that goes along with computer use. These devices can be e-book readers but do much more. You can use a variety of apps on them, just like you can on a smartphone like an iPhone or Android phone. Depending on the model, tablets can record video (sometimes in HD) and take high-quality photos. With a tablet, you can play music, watch movies, browse the entire internet including your social media websites, play games, print wirelessly, email, use Google maps, play games, manage your calendar and contacts, and more.

The display on a tablet is also different. They use an LCD screen with a glossy finish. This means that they reflect images and glare in sunlight but also that they can be backlit for seeing in the dark. They all use touch screen technology with on screen keyboards. These devices can be frustrating for someone with limited hand dexterity.

All of these devices come with a variety of screen sizes and storage space. Simply reading e-books does not require much storage. If you plan to load photos or download videos onto your device, you will need more storage.

Below are some helpful websites that explain this information in more detail. Some of them also have customer reviews of the devices. In addition, the December 2012 issue of Consumer Reports contains reviews and recommendations for both e-book readers and tablets. This issue is always available at the reference desk in the library.

Tablet vs. Ereader from Squidoo

Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad: Which E-book Reader Should You Buy? from Cnet 

E-book Reader Buying Guide from Consumer Reports

E-book Readers from PC Magazine

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 9, 2013 1:58 pm

    P.S. There are Kindle e-ink readers with touch screen too, not just the Nook Simple Touch.

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