How to buy the best e-reader

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How to buy the best e reader - How to buy the best e-reader

We have seen many changes in the e-reader market over the past year. Prices have come down sharply, with $100 and less suddenly a realistic price for e-readers from the big players – Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. E-reader shipments have skyrocketed: Analyst firm IDC says shipments are up 167 percent year-on-year. And of course, as we head towards the final leg of the year, e-readers have become the hottest item on wish lists.

Buying an e-reader and wondering where to go? I evaluated the latest models and selected some of the best e-readers for specific tasks. My pick, which tops our top 10 e-reader chart, is the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch.

E-Reader Trends

Looking at the overall trends in e-readers, I can say that the category continues to be dominated by models using E Ink electronic paper displays. Introduced in 2010, the E Ink “Pearl” display remains the technology of choice, particularly for dedicated e-readers focused on delivering the best possible reading quality. Since last year, software improvements have allowed e-ink and e-reader manufacturers to increase perceived page refresh and page turn times, although this approach sometimes means you’ll see ghosting from a previous page.

The Barnes & Noble Nook Color, a $200 model that we continue to classify as an e-reader rather than a tablet despite its growing support for tablet apps, is the only color LCD e-reader that really stands out as a E-reader interspersed -reader. As a result, it remains at the top of our top 10 e-reader chart. Unlike the multi-purpose Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, the Nook Color was first launched as an e-reader in Fall 2010, and it offers e-reading-centric enhancements, including a screen with minimal glare and a variety of display options that enhance text improve exhibition and presentation of magazines and children’s books. (We reviewed and ranked its newer sibling, the Nook Tablet, as a tablet, although this device uses the same display and reading-optimized user interface as the Nook Color. For more information on the comparison between the Nook tablet and the Kindle Fire, see e-Readers , see “Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet: Which Should You Buy?”)

The other display trend for e-readers: the move to touchscreen displays. Given that consumers are used to tapping their smartphone screens to navigate, it only makes sense that touchscreen technology would make the move to e-readers. Sony was the first to launch the Sony Reader Touch Edition and the Sony Reader Pocket Edition last year. Then, last summer, Barnes & Noble released the Nook Simple Touch and Kobo responded with the Kobo eReader Touch Edition. Just this fall, Amazon joined the party with its Kindle Touch.

Meanwhile, e-reader prices have fallen precipitously, and e-readers under $100 are now commonplace. Consider this: In the summer of 2011, e-reader prices hovered around $140. The cheapest model is now the Amazon Kindle (fourth generation) at $79. Granted, in order to hit those sub-$100 price points, you’re asking e-reader makers to free up your lock screen and a bit of space on your menus for advertisements (“special offers,” as Amazon calls them, or just “deals, ‘, as Kobo calls her). The exception here is the Nook Simple Touch, which costs $99 without ads.

usability gains

The latest e-readers are infinitely easier to use than their predecessors, thanks to their improved display contrast, touchscreen interfaces and 1-2 month battery life. E-readers are smaller too: the third-generation Amazon Kindle, now marketed as the Kindle Keyboard, is a veritable giant compared to the latest models.

At just 0.37 pounds, the Sony Reader Wi-Fi is the slimmest e-reader in the range, and thanks to its unique button design and light weight, it’s a joy to hold in one hand. Ties with Sony in terms of lightness is the fourth-generation Amazon Kindle (0.37 pounds), followed by the Kobo eReader Touch Edition (0.44 pounds) and the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch (0.47 pounds). In contrast, the 2010 third-generation Kindle Keyboard weighs 0.60 pounds.

In terms of overall usability, the Nook Simple Touch and Kobo eReader Touch have the best menu design and usability, followed by the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, whose menus are more visual and functional than Amazon’s but lack a fresh design touch . Kobo also has the best “social” e-reading features, allowing you to share reading stats with both the Kobo community and social networks. Amazon’s latest Kindles have pretty much the same menus as previous-generation Kindles, a consistency some users will appreciate, but the UI feels dated and overly text-based for the current visual era. I also don’t like how the Kindle Touch’s touch menus are organized.

I really like the array of navigation buttons on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, which combine well with the touchscreen’s swipe or tap page turns. I also like the feel of the Nook Simple Touch and Kobo eReader Touch Edition in the hand. Amazon’s Kindle page-turn buttons feel nice, but I’m not a fan of the navigation buttons underneath. Likewise, Barnes & Noble stumbled hard on its page-turning buttons: I like the idea of ​​having buttons in addition to swiping the screen, but the buttons are so awkward to press that they defeat the purpose.

Which e-reader is right for you? Your choice depends heavily on your technology ecosystem. If you’ve already decided on an e-reader format because you’ve built a library with, say, Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you’re likely to stick with a device that handles that format. Cross-compatibility between e-reader devices remains an issue (Kobo and Sony are the most open, if that’s important to you). But if you’re buying your first e-reader, take some time to consider the options. You can find solid products on the market and there has never been a better time to buy an e-reader than now.

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