You are either an avid reader or would like to become a more avid reader. So either you are considering some kind of digital slate reading device – an e-book ereader or an LCD tablet – as a gift to yourself or as a gift for someone else, or someone is considering one for you.
Yesterday we discussed why you ought to choose an e-book ereader and why you ought to choose a tablet.
Today we will tackle a comparison of ereaders and tablets to determine what is the best e-book reader for you.
Which e-book reader do I choose?
If the answers to these questions we posed yesterday point you to an e-book reader, which one should you buy?
The quick answer is one of the three "glowing" ereaders – the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, the KoboGlo or the Barnes & Noble Nook Glow. Each is equipped with screen lighting that let you read in dim or dark ambient lighting conditions. Check out my examination of the three glowing e-book readers for my recommendation.
But all three e-book sellers make less-expensive non-glowing models. Just be aware you'll only be able to read them in average-to-bright ambient light.
If size is an issue, Kobo just unveiled the Kobo Mini, an adorable e-reader with a 4.5-inch screen and two-thirds the size of a regular Kobo that might even fit into a clutch purse.
Why an e-reader from one of these three? Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo are the only three ereader makers who also run e-bookstores. All other e-book ereader makers have to partner with an e-book seller. You're better off dealing directly with one outfit for both device and content.
Which tablet do I choose?
If a tablet seems the way to go, you have two decisions: do you go with a 10-incher or a 7-incher and, once the size is determined, which operating system?
Assuming you don't need your tablet for work or more business-oriented functions, go with a 7-inch tablet. It'll fit easier in a jacket pocket or medium-to-large purse, and it's lighter to hold in one hand for mass transit commuting reading.
Which 7-inch tablet? As I discuss here, I'd opt for the Apple iPad mini over the specialty book store tablets, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD or the Kobo Arc.
From a physical point-of-view, iPad mini is thinner and lighter than any of these tablets, yet includes a larger screen (7.9 inches vs. 7 inches), and includes a rear HD camera and GPS for map apps.
Operationally and functionally, the mini is an iPad, only smaller, with all the benefits of Apple's easy-to-grok OS and massive app and content apps – including for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and myriad other ereading apps. In other words, your book buying isn't limited to just one virtual store.
Plus, you get more book text on screen with the mini, which means fewer page turns compared to a more compact 7-inch ereader screen.
IMHO, iPad mini is worth the extra dough over a bookstore ereader tablet.
Best choice for your child
The "best reading device" query is not always followed by "for me."
For your child, the answer is simple: it has to be a tablet.
Why? My top 5 reasons.
- You can lead a child to an ereader but you can't make him/her read. You know that. An ereader as a gift will seem as if you're giving your child an instruction or a chore, not a gift. A tablet is the spoonful of sugar to help the reading medicine go down.
- Socially, you don't want your prodigal to be considered a Poindexter (is that still a thing?) at school. A child carrying a tablet will immediately enter the cool kid firmament – or at least s/he won't be considered uncool.
- A growing number of clever and compelling textbooks are becoming available on the iPad, and a growing number of school districts are using them. If nothing else, your child will have to lug fewer books, lightening their backpack load.
- From an academic POV, a tablet will encourage your student to conduct more instant research. Plus, computing skills – including tablet skills – will at least keep your kid tech current if not ahead of his/her peers.
- Security-wise, all tablets include parental controls, which most ereaders don't have, to not only restrict access to certain Web sites and materials but to keep your kid from purchasing additional non-educational content. Tablets also provide you with location information (either built in or through an app) so you can keep track of where your off-spring is traipsing or how they're using their tablet.
Which tablet size/type is best?
I recommend a 10-incher.
Your child likely will want to do homework on it as well as read, and the on-screen keyboard on a 7-inch tablet will likely prove too pinched for paper-writing.
Which 10-inch tablet? At $400 – around $100 less than competing 10-inch models – arguably the best value on the tablet market is Apple's iPad 2. If you want to save a few bucks, check out the booming market in used and refurbished iPad 2s.
Try to avoid to less-than-familiar tablet brands. The price will be attractive, but quality – both build and technical – and customer service will lag considerably compared to the Apples, Amazons, Barnes & Nobles and Samsungs of the world. Don't be penny-wise but tablet foolish.
Of course, you could buy both an e-book reader and a 10-inch tablet. Each tool does have its specific purposes.
Happy e-book shopping!