Published March 15, 2012
Whether you are sick of carrying around heavy novels or are simply ready to make the jump to e-books, picking the right e-reader can be difficult. Here are four questions to ask yourself before you make the purchase:
What do I want to use it for?
If plan to use your e-reader primarily for reading fiction, you should look at the black and white devices, says David Renard, the managing partner of publishing industry research and consulting firm mediaIDEAs. “[These] offer a big repertoire of books that can be read without the temptation of using Facebook and looking at a YouTube video from the same device.”
If you want to utilize the device for activities beyond reading, will share it will your children or use it for books that require color, like text books, cookbooks and children’s books, Renard suggests considering an entertainment device like Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. These offer a wide range of apps that allow you to do things like stream Netflix and listen to Pandora.
How much are you looking to spend?
E-readers are becoming more and more affordable. As of March 2012, you can score a Nook Simple Touch for $99 or a fourth-generation Kindle for $79 (provided you are okay with having ads as your screensavers). Purchasing an iPad will still set you back a couple of thousand dollars, but can also be used for scores of other things.
Most, if not all, of the major e-readers come with Wi-Fi capabilities. Keep in mind that an e-reader that also comes with 3G may up the cost of the device, and it not necessary if you just plan on using your e-reader for books. However, springing for 3G will make using entertainment apps more convenient if you are always on the go. Storage is another factor to consider.
What formats does it support?
All e-books are not created equal. You can only read e-books purchased on Amazon.com on a Kindle device or app, and the same goes for e-books you get through Barnes & Noble and Apple. If you plan to use your device to read PDFs, make sure it supports that type of file (many do, but it might not be to your liking). It can be difficult to move your files from one type of e-reader to another. You can download books from numerous databases with the iPad, but they all go to their respective app, meaning effective e-book management and organization may be a headache as you accumulate hundreds of books over the years.
If you do a lot of international traveling, or spend long periods of time abroad, make sure your e-reader will download e-books in foreign countries. TechMediaNetwork’s TopTenReviews has a useful side-by-side chart comparing the features of different e-book readers.
Do I like it?
The bottom line is that you want to feel comfortable using your e-reader. If you can, try out your favorite one before ordering, whether by borrowing one from a friend or by going to a store. Does it feel right in your hands? What do you think about using the touch screen? Is it too bulky, heavy or cumbersome? Can you read the font, or is there a way to change its size to your liking? Pick the e-reader that best serves your needs.