eBook Readers are one of the hottest gadgets to appear in recent years. They are a book worm’s best friend, a traveler’s lifeblood and a student’s companion. Capable of storing thousands of digital books at once, they are the must-have gadget for readers on the move.
There are currently dozens of different eBook readers competing for your wallet’s dollar – enough to fill a small bookcase, in fact. While some of these models are pretty basic, others come with all sorts of additional bells-and-whistles, including inbuilt Wi-Fi, picture viewing, MP3 support and colour/touch screen displays. Some, like the NookColor, even provide a tablet-style experience similar to the Apple iPad.
Three of the more popular eBook readers currently on the market are the Amazon Kindle 3 (3G Wi-Fi), Barnes & Noble Nook Color and Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-650). Each model comes with its own unique selling points, as well as a few singular flaws. If you’re looking to buy an eBook reader, you could certainly do worse than one of these models – but how do they compare? Let’s take a look at each in turn.
Barnes & Noble NookColor
The Barnes & Noble NookColor is a high-end eReader that boasts a great deal of functionality. Its main claim to fame is a 7in touch screen that can display up to 16 million colours. As you’d expect, the addition of colour opens up a whole new range of reading possibilities. In addition to traditional black-and-white text, you can use the NookColor to view university text books, e-mags, digital comics and even children’s picture books.
Other highlights include inbuilt WiFi, MP4 video playback and a MicroSD memory card slot. It also doubles as a portable web-browsing device, similar to the Apple iPad. The NookColor runs off the Android 2.1 platform and offers a wide range of eBook file support (EPUB, PDF, XLS, DOC, PPT, PPS, TXT, DOCM, XLSM, PPTM, PPSX, PPSM, DOCX, XLX, PPTX).
Unlike eBooks with e-ink displays, the NookColor can be viewed in the dark without the need for a light accessory (the screen works just like a regular PC tablet). The display boasts a native resolution of 1024x600, which isn’t too shabby for a seven-inch screen.
In addition to a MicroSD card slot, the NookColor comes with 8GB of inbuilt memory. According to Barnes & Noble, this is enough to store 1000 books, 25 full-colour magazines, 10 newspapers, 50 picture books, 500 songs, and 150 photos.
The NookColor's LCD display opens up new reading possibilities.
Naturally, all this added functionality doesn’t come cheap: at US$249, the NookColor is significantly more expensive than any other eBook.
The NookColour benefits from an intuitive interface that is easy to get to grips with. Viewing quality is exceptional and the touch screen works well. Reflectivity is surprisingly minimal for an LCD screen – even in direct sunlight. That said, the Kindle 3 and Sony Reader Touch Edition both performed better in this area, with zero glare.
Pros: Colour screen provides new reading possibilities, user-friendly interface, lots of additional features.
Conclusion: If you’d like to do more than read books with your eReader – and don’t mind spending a bit extra – the Barnes & Noble NookColour is a standout.
Amazon Kindle 3 (3G Wi-Fi edition)
The first Kindle, which debuted in late 2007, was a colossal success for Amazon; selling out in just five-and-a-half hours. It single-handedly kick-started the whole eBook craze, much like the iPad did for tablets in 2010. The latest version, Kindle 3, adds 3G connectivity, improved battery life and a revamped 6in e-ink ‘Pearl’ display.
With dimensions of 190×123×8.5mm, the Kindle 3 is one of the more portable eBooks on the market (it's around 3/4 the size of the original Kindle). It will easily slip inside a briefcase or laptop bag for easy carrying. If you like to read for extended periods of time, the Kindle 3’s slim design is definitely a big plus. The display can also be viewed in direct sunlight without any glare – just like a regular novel.
One of the biggest advantages of the Kindle 3 is that it grants you access to Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore: home to over 810000 digital publications. Thanks to its 3G connectivity, the Kindle 3 is capable of downloading and purchasing books from anywhere with mobile service. This is especially convenient for travelers, for whom Wi-Fi access may not always be available.
In addition to viewing eBooks, the Kindle 3 can be used to listen to music, read PDF files and view JPEG photos [note: photos and PDFs appear in black-and-white]. You can also share book passages and quotes with friends via the built-in Twitter and FaceBook tools.
The Amazon Kindle is still one of the slimmest eBooks on the market.
The Kindle 3’s QWERTY keyboard works well – it will be especially appreciated by older users who may not be accustomed to touch screen displays. This makes the Kindle 3 a good gift option for grandparents. The e-ink ‘Pearl’ display is very easy on the eyes and the page refresh rate is impressively speedy.
Kindle 3 comes with 4GB of internal memory, which is enough to store around 3500 books. Unfortunately, there are no external memory options.
Pros: 3G connectivity, speedy interface, portable size
Cons: No external memory
Conclusion: The Kindle 3 (3G Wi-Fi edition) is a good option for people who want a fuss-free, easy-to-use eBook reader. It’s fast, versatile and highly portable.
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