eBook reader comparison guide: how to buy

Looking for the best eBook reader? Before you buy an Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad or Sony reader read our guide to the best features you should compare

There's no doubt the launch of Apple's iPad has reignited interest in the eBook reader market, and opened up the type of content people want to read on these pocket-sized devices. Of course, with so many eBook models to choose from, selecting the right eBook reader may be a daunting task. Let's cover the basics of what you need to consider when taking an eBook reader for a test drive. Popular models include the Amazon Kindle, Borders Kobo eReader and Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600.

Read the latest reviews of our Top 5 eBook readers of 2010

Almost all the eBook readers available today offer a black-and-white E Ink display, and they are usually not much larger than a paperback novel. The E Ink display is designed so that the screen won't strain your eyes when you read it, and unlike laptops and tablet devices, the screen is designed to be easily read in all environments – including bright sunlight.

Kogan eBook
An eBook display should be crisp and easy on the eyes

Battery life and button layout

You will potentially use the device for quite a few hours at a stretch (as if you were reading a paper-based book or magazine), so make sure the device is portable and has a solid battery life. eBook readers featuring E Ink technology are designed to not use battery power unless the page changes, so most eBook measure the battery life in pages. Ideally look for a reader that can handle 20,000-30,000 page turns.

Is the device comfortable to hold? Make sure you'd be happy holding it in your hands for an extended period of time. When it comes to turning the pages of the eBook, check that the buttons are in easy reach, as you'll want to access these to frequently turn the pages. (Some eBooks, such as the Sony ReaderTouch Edition (PRS-650) feature a touch screen interface that let you turn pages by flicking the screen.)

eBook file types

The next thing to consider is how you will get new eBooks onto the device. Currently there are two popular methods you need to consider. If you use the Amazon Kindle, you'll need to visit the Amazon shop online to buy new eBooks, which are then loaded into your device either directly or via your PC.

Other brands of eBook readers should include software that will let your purchase eBooks from a specific bookstore, and ideally you will want to check that your eBook reader can be registered as an Adobe Digital Edition reader.

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Amanda Conroy

Good Gear Guide

28 Comments

jeff

1

I have found two spelling mistakes on your site - one typo, one an obvious mistake. I am a proof reader and will happily read ANYTHING you want to put to "air" and correct it so that your website doesn't turn people like me off continuing and maybe making a purchase - bedcause if you can't spell and correct your typos, you probably can't service my order. I charge $10 per correction payable to my Paypal account. I also do grammar corrections so that your descriptions make sense, same charge $10 per grammatical correction.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Jeff

Mel

2

To Jeff - "bedcause"

You owe me ten bucks ;)

Mel

CJ

3

You wiped out my comment. Your dates and/or times are off. It's 5/11/11 so unless you are on European date style, it's wrong; however, your time is still off. It's 9:26 not 12:44.

CJ

4

LOL. Ditto

CJ

5

I might add that your dates are off on this website. Today is 5/11/11, not 12/5/11 (or if on European date, then your time is off) It's 9:23, not 12:44

JK

6

And yet on my screen your date displays as Thu 12/05/2011 and your time displays as 12:46 which I would assume was the local time here when your comment was logged. There are more places in the world than the US or Europe, you know - and we all have different time zones to you two. Heck, the US has about 5 time zones and Europe has at least two!

ALX

7

Actually most of the world uses the dd/mm/yy model. It makes more sense. And this article would be more helpful if it did a comparison between the models it talks about.

ALX

8

This is actually an australian site, so it is on the australian time with the australian date. So as we are ahead of you, the date is going to be different. (and yes two posts is stupid but couldn't edit)

Dan

9

Okay, but which e-book is the better purchase?

I like color because then it displays magazines nicely, but is that important?

And what if I want something that is not available on my particular choice?

And yes, spelling is important.
So is not being rude.

Dan

ZW

10

just so we can be clear the date is 31/05/2011 time is done Australian eastern standard time which is 2 and half hrs in front of me as i live in perth w.a. so when i posred this it was 12:11 perth time

ZW

11

how can this be an comparison guild if there are no actual comparisons. i love reading and i don't have a lot of space for all the books i buy . an e book book would be awesome to have but which is the right one for me

Skippy the Red Kangaroo

12

An English friend of mine once gave a talk to a group of American school kids. Their first question? 'What language do you speak in England?'

Listen to the corn-syrup chugging morons squeal 'Oooooh your date/time/spelling is wrong!'

What a pack of galahs.

AO

13

Nook or Kindle? Any suggestions?

Alan

14

Well, since someone asked for suggestions...
The main contenders (for my money) are-
1. Amazon Kindle
2. Barnes & Noble Nook Color
3. Sony Touch
(iPad isn't a reader- it's a tablet with reader software tacked on. That makes it MUCH more expensive.)

The original, the Kindle, is... ok. It does the job. BUT- it supports the fewest file formats, in an attempt to "lock" you into buying everything from Amazon.

The Sony Touch supports more formats. It also has an SD slot for extra memory. However, it doesn't have WiFi (for now) so if you fancy sitting in a trendy coffeee shop downloading trash, this isn't for you. Another problem: the larger 7-inch ones are hard to find right now. Sony may be preparing to bring out a new version.

Finally, the Nook Color. Brings colour to the table, so if you read glossy mags or look at pretty graphics, this is the only reader for you. It also has expandable memory, and a community of hackers who have been adding all sorts of options. It's biggest problem: Zero Support outside the USA. They won't sell it to you - you need eBay or a intermediary like PriceUSA.

My suggestion: Nook (if you can get it). Failing that, WAIT to see what Sony will offer in the next few months.

geoff

15

Jeff.

So you do grammar corrections do you? Well, from your email you won't do mine. Bedcause I done it myself, didn't I?

terry

16

Can anyone tell me which e readers,,,,have a black background and white writing,,,,as well as white background with black writing.

Thanks

terry

17

Geoff,,,dont correct people's spelling or grammar when you cant enunciate yourself properly. You should have said "did it myself" not "done it myself".

brent

18

Terry, I use the Kindle for PC app on my laptop and the white on black is an available setting. I also use an easy touch Nook (and that feature is not available.) BTW, I am going to add a Nook Color to my "collection".

ophiuchus

19

@ Mel: HAHAHAHAHAHA serves the arrogant jerkwad jeff right!

seraphim

20

Anybody here who wants their essays, reports and articles proofread by the great jeff, raise your hands!...

...

hey... anybody here who wants their reports and articles proofread by the great jeff, raise your hands!...

.....

uhh...anybody? come on guys, anyone? please? jeff needs his ten bucks... he's an excellent proofreader, honest...

Joanne

21

I have a lot of books on a thumb drive which e reader will take a thumb drive please

Bob

22

Really, do any of you believe that you are providing constructive information to this page. This is the type of diatribe that turns people off. Comment that is irrelevant to the original review is a total waste of time and detimental to the user seeking valid information on the quality, or lack thereof, of a product

Minnemom

23

I like to read in bed at night, and in the living room with a fluorescent lamp next to me. Plus, I can't afford an Apple iPad. What would be the best choice for an ereader?

haley

24

what are the fetures for the nook simple touch?

Michaele

25

Thank you, Alan: You're right -- the article title and
promised currentnerss from PC are misleading. You've saved the day by actually giving me useful information, as I'm making the same choice, now, to "gift" someone.
(I know -- "gift" is not a verb.) So thanks PC for setting up the site; and thank you, Alan, for the help.

Michaele

26

Thank you, Alan: You're right -- the article title and
promised currentness from PC are misleading. You've saved the day by actually giving me useful information, as I'm making the same choice, now, to "gift" someone.
(I know -- "gift" is not a verb.) So thanks PC for setting up the site; and thank you, Alan, for the help.

afd1949

27

For Jeff - not sure I want to hire a proof reader who can't spell the word because ("bedcause") AND who doesn't catch the mistake before going public with his sales pitch!

Greer Janis

28

Why...why...does every simple query asking for educated advice slide into moronic posturing? I would love to know if purchasing a 2011 Nook for my "basic computers skills" mom would be a good purchase...pros and cons only please...

Comments are now closed.

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