In the past, when an avid reader traveled, they’d have some decisions to make regarding what books to bring along with them on the trip. After all, there’s only so much room in the suitcase or the carry-on, right? However, all that has changed due to the influx of e-readers on the market- avid readers can now carry their entire libraries with them.

Still, even with the e-readers available, there are some choices that have to be made. There is an e-reader on the market for everyone. So, the problem now is not selecting the books to bring- it’s making the choice of what e-reader to carry those books on.

E-book reader and coffee cup on wooden table

E-book reader and coffee cup on wooden table

Of course, we all know that when it comes to technology, choice is good- but it can be quite difficult and even downright confusing trying to work out which e-reader suits your own personal needs. Following are a few tips to help work your way through the maze of e-readers.

1) What kind of screen do you want?

When choosing an e-reader, you should never get online or pick up a magazine, read a few reviews on various e-readers, and order the one that sounds best. You’re going to be using this e-reader, you need to hold them and look at them. The screen is the most important part of the e-reader because you’re going to be looking it for hours at a time when you’re reading. By holding one and looking at the screen, you can tell which one is most comfortable on your eyes: e-ink, black-and-white, color, and with or without backlighting. Always look at them before you make your choice. Keep in mind that the ones with backlighting will allow you to read in low light, while the ones without backlighting will require light for you to be able to read them, just like a traditional book.

2) Try it out before you buy it.

As mentioned above, you need to hold the e-reader and look at the screen before choosing one. However, another thing you should consider is the dimensions and specs. You need to know that it will fit in your purse or pocket. You need to make sure the weight is good- you’re going to be holding it for long periods of time, you don’t want to strain your wrists. You also want to be sure that you understand how it works without having to download a long, boring manual to learn about it.
Also, consider what you want- some people prefer small and lightweight while others prefer an e-reader that is larger and has a list of features as long as their arm. Think about what you’re going to be doing- just reading books, reading books/magazines with colorful pictures, or gaming. There are lots of things you should think about when making the decision about which e-reader to choose.

3) What content will you be reading?

When checking out the specs, you’ll see that some of the e-readers allow you to download from just about anywhere, while some of them are restricted to one retailer, and still others, you have to employ workarounds to access a wider selection.

Many libraries these days offer e-reader access. You can call your local library to find out if they support e-readers and find out how you can sign up. When it comes to these programs, you don’t have to worry about getting back to the library to turn it in- it automatically disappears from your bookshelf when the rental period is up.
Also, a few of the e-readers have an option where you can borrow a textbook instead of having to buy it from the school’s bookstore. When the term is up, the book will simply disappear from your bookshelf.

4) Consider your connectivity needs.

The e-readers in the beginning required that you connect them to your computer with a USB cable in order to access and download books. However, now most of them have at least a Wi-Fi connection and others even have cellular data- just like your phone. Having other connectivity options allows you to be able to download books even when you’re not near a computer.
5) Consider the battery life of the device.

Battery life is extremely important. The traditional e-readers tend to have a very long battery life. On the other hand, the ones that have more features tend to have a much lower battery life due to the demand on the battery. A traditional e-reader will most likely be able to go for weeks between charges instead of hours.
6) Know that you’ll pay more for more features.

You already know that you can use an e-reader to read books, magazines, newspapers, and more. However, many of the e-readers today will allow you to surf the web, check e-mail, sync up with others’ electronic devices, and even watch videos. You should be aware that the more features the e-reader has, the more you’re going to pay for it. Therefore, you must make the decision about how much more you’re willing to pay for all those extras.

If all you want to do is read, then you should probably choose a basic e-reader that allows you to download and read books in simple black and white.

Another thing that drives the price up is the way that it connects to the internet to allow downloading reading material and other things. If you use your e-reader at home or frequent Wi-Fi hot spots, then an e-reader with a Wi-Fi connection is best. However, if you’re on the go and not near Wi-Fi connectivity very often, then you may want to consider one with a cellular plan.

Here is the short version of the differences between tablets and e-readers. Maybe this can help you to make up your mind as to which one is best for you and your needs/wants/desires.

E-Readers
• E-readers have e-ink display
• E-readers are monochrome
• E-readers have a long battery life
• E-readers are great for reading- no eye strain
• E-readers are not great for browsing the internet
• E-readers do not have video playback
• E-readers are portable and light (typically 8 ounces or less)

Tablets
• Tablets have a color, back-lit display
• Tablets have a shorter battery life
• Tablets are not great for long periods of reading- the backlit screen can result in eye strain
• Tablets are great for browsing the web and watching videos
• Tablets are portable, but a little heavier than e-readers

As you can see, the biggest difference between tablets and e-readers is the display. This brings attention to the variances in some of the other important features such as price and battery life. If you still need some help deciding which device is right for you, keep reading. Hopefully the following information will at least help you to decide which one to get first.

E-Readers

What are E-readers Good For?
First of all, e-readers are excellent for reading e-books. There is little to no eye strain after long periods of reading. This is due to the special e-ink display. Reading on the e-ink display is nearly the same as reading text that is printed on paper. The e-ink display is not backlit, so you won’t have nearly the eye strain that you have after reading on a computer or watching television for a long period of time.

Another great thing about the e-ink display is that it extends battery life. The battery is only drained when the device is being updated, so you can go for weeks before you have to charge it- as opposed to a tablet that you have to put on the charger at least once a day.

E-readers are small and compact- with an e-reader you can carry your entire library with you where ever you go on a device that is smaller and lighter than a paperback book.
Finally, e-readers are a great value. In most cases, they cost much less than a tablet and there are lots of out-of-copyright books that you can download for free- which makes your e-reader pay for itself pretty quickly.

What are E-readers Not Good For?

Once again, it’s about the display. While the e-ink display is excellent for reading on, they have a much slower refresh rate, which means they’re not so great for watching videos on. Additionally, at this time, they are limited to monochrome only with dedicated e-readers that have an e-ink display.
Some of the e-readers do have the ability to browse the internet, but since you can’t watch videos and the display is black and white only, your browsing experience won’t be very good. Basically, those e-readers that do have internet capabilities are best used to download books, and to send emails when you don’t have or can’t get to any of your other devices.

Tablets

What are Tablets Good For?

Tablets are basically notebook computers with a touch screen and no keyboard- though you can add an external one if you want to. These are excellent for browsing the internet when you’re out and about. Most of them have great displays which makes it enjoyable to watch videos and explore the internet.
Basically, a tablet can be used for anything and everything you can do on a laptop or desktop computer. However, you should probably avoid doing anything requiring lots of typing unless you have a keyboard- either external or attachment.

Additionally, there are lots of apps available for tablets that can keep you- or your kids- entertained when you’re traveling.

What are Tablets Not Good For?

The wonderful display that allows you to comfortably browse the web, play games, and watch videos also uses a lot of battery. You will probably get a maximum of 10 hours between charges- though that does depend heavily upon what you’re doing with it- browsing tends to use less battery than watching videos does.

Though this wonderful display is great for watching videos and such, it’s not so great for reading e-books on. Sure, if you’re reading a quick news story or something, they’re fine. However, if you plan on settling in for the evening with a good book, a tablet is not the best choice. You could end up with headaches and eyestrain- it would basically be like trying to read a book with someone shining a flashlight in your eyes.

Additionally, most tablets have touch screens, which again, facilitate web browsing. However, they are much more reflective and not so great for reading outside in the sunlight or under specific types of artificial light. Of course, this may not matter to you if you don’t plan on reading in those conditions.

Finally, all those bells and whistles aren’t cheap. Tablets tend to cost a bit more than a typical e-reader. However, the smaller, 7-inch tablets do seem to be much less expensive than some of the larger ones.

Which One Is Right For You?

Choose an E-reader
• If you plan to focus on reading material that doesn’t have lots of graphical content, such as books, newspapers, etc.
• If you plan to spend lots of time reading
• If battery life is an important factor
• If you have another device to do your internet browsing on
• If you don’t want to spend a lot of money

Choose a Tablet:
• If you plan on surfing the internet or watching lots of videos
• If you’ll only be reading short documents or for short periods of time
• If you plan on reading books/magazines with lots of colored graphics
• If you don’t mind having to charge your device every day
• If you’re not on a tight budget and the extra features are worth the extra money

Though tablets and e-readers have many similarities, they are actually very different devices. Of course, you can use your tablet to read e-books, but you can’t necessarily use your e-reader to play games or browse the web. At some point, the two will likely meld into one- as they have with Amazons Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook- but for now, there are still some companies selling them as different devices. If you’re not on a limited budget, get both!

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