E-ink or LCD? USB or USB and Wi-Fi? Kindle or Nook or some other brand name with which you are unfamiliar? Choosing the right e-Reader from the many available types is like trying to pick from among all of those pesky Glade candle scents. They should both be basic, life-enhancing purchases because, well, their purposes are simple.
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Yet somehow, you seem to linger in the store, picking up different kinds, holding them, putting them down, picking them back up again. Finally, in a determined effort to just get out of the store with the item you came to buy, you say a silent prayer to the electronic gods, close your eyes, summon your inner-strength and grab a model off the shelf. From the time you pay for your new electronic reader to the moment you get home and use it, you constantly second-guess yourself.
Having silent arguments inside of your head, and experiencing what you are sure is the beginning of your first-ever anxiety attack, is not what buying electronics is all about. And the aforementioned scenario should not be the memory you carry when you look back on your e-Reader shopping experience.
Research is a great way to prevent a mini-meltdown in the store. But who has time to pick through expert reviews and user opinions of the devices that make up this $82 million per year industry? Luckily for you, we do. For your convenience, we have sorted through the Kindles, Nooks, Sonys, BeBooks and others, so you will know which e-Readers are worth your money and which ones should be dropped off a multi-story building… and left on the ground in shattered pieces. So come on in and have a seat. We would like to welcome you to the big, wide world that is the e-reader industry.
The Kindle Touch 3G
Rating: 5/5Price 149$
The various makers of e-readers seem to be integrating touchscreens into their new products. And Amazon’s Kindle Touch 3G is no exception. This e-reader is like the Kindle 3 on steroids. It has been beefed up with 4GB of on-device storage. The two-month battery life also doubles what the Kindle 3 offered.
So besides the keypad being replaced with a touchscreen, what is different about the Kindle Touch 3G? The select few people who have gotten to hold one of these beauties in their hands enjoy the fact that the device never gets too hot to touch, and the ergonomic design of the new Kindle Touch allows for comfortably extended periods of use.
And connectivity is all yours. Amazon pays for the 3G wireless connection at no additional cost to you, and the device automatically detects nearby Wi-Fi spots for your convenience. AT&T hotspots are free also; no registration is required.
The list of reader-friendly features keeps on going. You can adjust the font to eight various sizes. Amazon also included their EasyReach, 6-inch touchscreen system that will let you hold the e-reader with one hand while tapping forward and backward through the reading material on the screen. And like the majority of the current e-readers on the market, the Kindle Touch 3G features the e-Ink screen. This revolutionary screen allows you, the avid reader, to read your screen without a glare from direct sunlight. Zoom in, zoom out . . . however, shaking it all about is not recommended.
Kindle Touch 3Gs can be bought at a base price of $149. But if you want to read from the 1 million-plus selections – provided for free from Amazon’s library – without advertisements getting in the way, be prepared to shell out $40 more. This Kindle model supports a wide selection of formats besides the standard .TXT, .PDF, .MP3, Amazon’s exclusive .AZW and unprotected .MOBI.
The Kobo Touch Edition
Rating: 3/5Price 120$ Customer Reviews
Get ready, get set and go! The little Kobo Touch Edition is catching up to the big boys of the e-reader market one product release at a time. The 1GB in-device storage allows you to store 1,000 books, magazines and newspapers at any given time, which is not the best but it’s not too shabby. I mean, do you really NEED to store that much reading material anyway? Regardless, most of the other leading e-readers on the market can store more e-books than this Kobo device.
The one-month battery life is also an industry standard. Of course, any e-reader manufacturer will tell you that the battery life will “depend on individual usage.” In other words, be prepared to charge your device every few days if you plan on using it regularly.
Let’s talk about the screen for a moment. The e-Ink pearl screen on the Kobo Touch Edition measures to six inches, and it gives you that glare-free view that all users crave. Therefore, it is easy to read and carry in your pocket or purse. And the device also comes in four colors – white, silver, blue and lilac – which is great if you enjoy matching your electronics to your outfits or if you simply think that blue is your “lucky” color.
The Touch Edition is also Wi-Fi capable, and it comes equipped with a beta-stage Web browser. However, it is still a dedicated e-reader, which for the price of $129, is fairly reasonable. And it even comes preloaded with 15 free-preview e-books. A special note to all you comic-book enthusiasts out there: the Touch Edition supports .CBZ and .CBR formats. Overall, this e-reader is a good buy for the price. But be prepared for a little bit of user-reported screen sensitivity.
The Sony Reader Wi-Fi
Rating: 3/5Price 139$ Customer Reviews
What is red, white and black and loves to be touched? What? No, not THAT. It’s the Reader Wi-Fi brought to you by those smart folks over at Sony. These e-readers are bold, delightful and available in white, red and black. Of course, what else would you expect from Sony? Junk? As a world-leader in the technology game, Sony put a lot of great features into their new Reader Wi-Fi. But although this device is priced just right at $149, we had hoped for a bit more “oomph” from the Sony Reader Wi-Fi.
As we dab the tears from our eyes, let’s talk about what this e-reader model brings to the proverbial table. The Reader Wi-Fi does have the e-Ink Pearl screen everyone seems to keep talking about, and by everyone, we mean us. It also features Clear Touch Infrared Technology, which enhances the screen’s clarity. This additional technology also seems to give the screen a slight gloss. We love shiny things!
Thanks to the Reader’s Wi-Fi connectivity, you can download two million titles from Sony’s Reader Store. This device is ePUB compatible, which means you can enjoy e-books straight from your local library. And be sure to check out the on-board dictionary and translator that supports five various languages such as English, German and French. No more mis-guesses on word definitions.
Oh, and Android lovers rejoice! Word on the street is that the Sony Reader Wi-Fi runs on a disguised Android OS. Thank you, Sony. I think I’m feeling better now.
The Barnes&Noble Nook Color
Rating: 4/5Price 214$ Customer Reviews
First of all, let’s take a moment to say thank you to the good people at Barnes&Noble for making a color e-reader. We applaud you for this. A little bit bigger than some of the other newest e-readers, the B&N Nook Color has a colorful, 7-inch screen that uses touchscreen technology. Hey, don’t act like this surprises you. You have probably noticed that this device has a hook on the bottom left corner, which is to help you get a better grip on the e-reader by giving you a place to slip your finger.
Users seem to enjoy the lightweight plastic border that is surprisingly durable. Gallery pictures and .PDFs pop up with no discernible issues; however, there are reports of only being able to get .M4Vs to play. So it appears that the Nook Color may have a few performance issues. And while we appreciate the VividView touchscreen, the reflective nature of this technology can make reading in bright lightening an non-fun challenge. On the other hand, this Nook uses backlighting for dim areas, which is a feature e-Ink device users miss.
Because the Nook is a Barnes&Noble product, owners of the Nook Color have free access to the one million e-books and 200 magazines in the store’s library. Among the supported files for this device are three audio formats, four graphics formats and the ePUB format. But of course, B&N makes it quite clear that Amazon and Sony formats are not supported by their very special Nooks. All in all, for a color-screen e-reader with Wi-Fi, $249 isn’t asking too much.
Aluratek Libre Color
Rating: 3/5Price 139$ Customer Reviews
Like the Nook Color, the Aluratek Libre Color comes equipped with a headphone jack, speakers and SD card slot. And also like the Nook Color, the Libre Color has a 7-inch, color touchscreen. But unlike the Nook, the Libre’s visual appeal is lackluster at best. Sure, they both have color screens, but the Libre’s colors are dull and do nothing to catch the eye’s attention. Of course, if you have your heart set on a color e-reader, but your budget is as tight as your belt at an all-you-can-eat buffet, the Libre Color is the choice pick.
At the retail price of $129, this device is a much cheaper option to other, more expensive (and better operating) e-readers on the market. While it plays videos and displays graphics in a variety of formats, it only supports the following four, basic text formats: .PDF, .TXT, .ePUB and a non-DMR .FB2. If we wanted to watch videos on the go, there are better devices for it than the Libre. It also has a plain LCD screen instead of that e-Ink one we are so keen on.
On the bright side, the Libre Color does offer a 2GB memory and auto-turn page flipping. Once again, the price is low if that is a major purchasing factor for you. In our opinion, which is what you asked for, this is one e-reader to drop-test for “funsies.” Actually, breaking the durability of this device’s breakage limits is the only thing we want to do with it.
The BeBook Neo
Rating: 3.5/5Price 159$ Customer Reviews
We have to hand it to the makers of the BeBook Neo for giving us something different to look in terms of e-reader design. This 6-inch, black-and-white e-reader prominently features a top-attached stylus pen and a bottom circular navigation area. You will also enjoy the headphone audio jack and handy standby button located on the reader’s underside. The ability to annotate pages for future reference purposes is a definite plus.
But what are the specs? What formats does it support? And what are the touchscreen details? Yeah, yeah, we’re getting to all that need-to-know info. This pleasant, pocket e-reader features convenient Wi-Fi access to download e-books to the devices the 512MB internal memory. As far as format support, this device is completely open-source. This fact alone redeems the majority of the Neo’s negative aspects.
And speaking of memory, this brings us to some of the Neo’s integral flaws. 512MB is awful small in comparison to the 1GB-3GB memories of readers currently on the market. The portrait/landscape view must be manually selected, and you have to recharge after approximately every 7,500 page turns. Also, while the stylus is a nice feature, using it is the only way you can “touch” the touchscreen; your fingers cannot do the walking here. Slightly steep at $249, but that is the price you pay for free-market file formatting.
The Pandigital Novel 9-Inch Color
Rating: 4/5Special Price 76$ Customer Reviews
Unlike some other e-readers currently available, (we’re talking to you, BeBook Neo), the Pandigital Novel 9-Inch Color Multimedia Reader’s $200-range price tag is justifiable. For $279, you can get an awful lot from this tablet-size reader. Due to its size, and wide range of functions, this reader may not be for those who want something easy to tote on the subway and to-and-from school and work.
The LCD screen beautifully displays a full touchscreen with virtual keyboard, all powered by an Android OS. The 2GB internal memory is capable of holding various pictures, videos and e-books. However, it only supports .PDF and .EPUB e-book formats, putting it behind its similar-priced competitors. Nonetheless, the Pandigital Novel does give users straight access to Barnes&Noble’s downloadable library.
Although it lacks a large variety of supported formats, we must give credit to the Novel 9-Inch Color for putting a lot of its focus towards easy readability. The variable fonts, bookmarks, organizing bookshelves, automatic portrait/landscape shift, character search and built-in dictionary make reading a pleasure. This multipurpose reader really is a powerhouse of capabilities.
The B&N Nook Simple Touch Reader
Rating: 4.5/5Price 109$ Customer Reviews
Do you see those people on the screen of that Barnes&Noble Nook Simple Touch Reader? Don’t they look smug? Well, they have good reason to be pleased-as-punch with themselves. As Nook Simple Touch users, they get to enjoy a 6-inch, e-Ink reader that gives them direct access to all the e-books in Barnes&Noble’s library.
If you have $139 to spare, you too can join the ranks of happy Nook users across the nation. The Wi-Fi enabled device picks up all of AT&T’s 20,000 hotspots for free. And the Nook supports .EPUB and .PDF formats as well as four different graphics formats. You can also customize your Nook Simple Touch’s screen by uploading pictures to use for your screensaver.
One of the best aspects of this Nook model is its ability to swiftly and fluidly turn pages with a finger swipe. The overall job-well-done design of the Nook Simple Touch certainly did give the Kindle Touch 3G a run for its money, but due to the limited supported formats and smaller internal memory, the Nook still came in at a very close second.
The ECTACO JetBook Lite
Rating: 2/5Price 129.99$ Customer Reviews
The first thought that comes to mind when we look at the ECTACO jetBook Lite is “circa mid-1990s” because that is precisely where the jetBook Lite’s design originated. I guess our only question for ECTACO is, “Can we borrow your time machine, so we can have something to do relieve the boredom caused by looking at your latest e-reader?”
Thanks to the AA power supply that runs the jetBook Lite, the device has a small bulge in its backside. And its memory capacity equals to a meager 100MB. The choice of only two font types is also majorly disappointing. However, we do have to give the jetBook Lite credit for supporting a decent amount of formats like adobe DRM, .MOBI and .EPUB. And if you are fluent in another language, chances are the e-reader supports e-books written in that language.
On the bright side, for only $149, the ECTACO jetBook Lite will make a fabulous companion piece to the CASIO wristwatch collecting dust in your bureau. This particular device is ideal for people who are not familiar with the latest standards in general technology. The available colors of this 5-inch, LCD-screen reader are black, white and grey. Wow. Better luck with the next model, ECTACO. We think it’s time to move on to the final e-reader on our list.
The E-Fun Next2 Reader
Closing the list of Best and Worst E-Readers is the Next2 Reader by E-Fun. Available in “popping” colors like bright purple and engine red, the Next2 is a nice budget-buy device. Costing right under $100 at most retailers, the E-Fun Next2 boasts a 7-inch, LCD screen and a 2GB internal memory. The Android v2.1 OS is a pleasing aspect to us techies, and the fact that this device has Wi-Fi connectivity shocks us, considering the low price tag.
Another plus is the Next2′s resistive touchscreen, which provides the right amount responsiveness without making the device overly sensitive. And all of your favorite formats, like .EPUB, .PDF and .JPEG, are supported.
Of course, the Next2 is designed to entice customers who are cost-conscious. It is a $99 e-reader, so there are going to be some quirks, such as slower page-turn speed during .PDF views and some video/audio synch problems. Some users have also reported poor speaker quality and disappointment at the lack of font options (you get one font – that’s it). However, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, and you require only the basics from an e-reader device, the E-Fun Next2 is a nice choice.