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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