Choosing an E-Book Reader

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A good E-Book reader will allow you to take not just your favorite book but your entire collection with you wherever you go. Get tips on choosing an E-Book reader with help from an expert in this free video clip.

Video Transcript

I'm Emily Davenport and this is Tech Know. The e-book reader is a book lover’s dream come true. It allows you to carry an entire library or a few hand-picked favorites, enabling you to virtually expand your shelf space without cluttering your house or weighing down your tote bag. An e-book reader makes all this — and more — possible. Choosing the e-book reader that will meet your needs requires a combination of product research and background knowledge of how e-books and e-readers interact. It can be bewildering, so let’s start with the basics! An e-book is an electronic version of a printed book, and is typically organized the same way as a hard copy. Unlike a print work, E-books can be navigated using the hyperlinked table of contents, index, chapters, and dictionary. They can be searched, highlighted, annotated, and bookmarked. And the fonts in e-books can be adjusted and personalized — a lifesaver for the visually challenged! That said, an e-book reader is a portable, low-power, high-resolution device for reading e-books. E-readers generally fall into two basic categories: dedicated e-book readers and tablets. Dedicated e-book readers use E-Ink technology to faithfully mimic the experience of reading a printed book and do a credible job of simulating the printed page. E-Ink displays are not backlit and therefore reflect ambient light, which reduces eye strain. Tablets are more versatile than dedicated e-readers. Besides reading, they can be used for watching movies, playing music, browsing the Web, etc. This additional functionality means that tablets are typically more expensive than dedicated e-readers. They also offer a radically different reading experience, as tablets have LCD backlit color displays that look beautiful but may cause considerable eye strain after some time. However, magazines, newspapers, comics, and books with color illustrations look glorious on tablets. Dedicated e-readers and tablets also differ considerably in battery life. E-Ink readers can work for weeks and even months without a recharge, while tablets are power hungry and typically need to be charged daily—especially if you’re using your tablet for anything other than reading or browsing the Web. Regarding size & weight, tablets—with screens that range from 9 to 10 inches— are usually much heavier than dedicated readers, whose screens are typically around 6 inches. The iPad 2, for example, weighs about 22 ounces, a considerable weight for those who like to read on the go. Another deciding factor in your search for the right E-Reader is Connectivity. If you’re mainly reading books, a lower-cost “Wi-Fi only” model is sufficient. Many e-readers in fact come with free Wi-Fi access. An e-reader with 3G access to a cellular data network offers more flexibility for users who use their readers for Web browsing and email, in addition to reading. It’s also necessary to consider how content is pulled into the e-readers. A dedicated e-reader (with its Wi-Fi or 3G connection) will allow you to download books directly to the device only from the vendor’s own e-bookstore. You can, however, download e-books from other e-bookstores onto your computer, and then copy it to your e-reader with the USB cable. This is called side-loading. Additionally, sites like Project Gutenberg offer public domain e-books for free download, while Amazon and B&N allow publishers to offer e-books for lending. Despite their present differences, distinctions between the dedicated e-reader and tablet are quickly becoming blurred. For instance, the Nook Color from B&N (with an 8 inch screen; 15.6 ounces) is a color e-reader whose basic model sells for under $200, while the Kindle Fire (also with a 7.5 inch display; 14.6 ounces) starts at $200 and is more like a multimedia tablet — just smaller and cheaper. So how does one choose an e-reader? Fortunately, the number of players in this field is still limited. A good apples-to-apples comparison and you’ll be well on the way to picking the right e-reader for you!

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