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The Best eBook Reader: eReader Devices and Tablets Compared

With a spate of new eReaders and tablets hitting the market, we thought it worth spelling out some of the features and specs of the major players to help you discern which is right for you – or at least help you figure out what the differences are. Bear in mind, there is no real apple-to-apple comparison here (no pun intended). eReaders have black and white “eInk” screens and are designed to be fairly basic – the introduction of the latest $79 Kindle is the best proof of that. Tablets, on the other hand, are designed to be something like a laptop in your palm – and can be used for reading, gaming, browsing, streaming, recording, and many other “-ings” to boot. In the end, your (and your readers’) preferences may be driven by your choice of book retailer as much as by the features of any given eReader.

-Andre Calilhanna

Kindle Touch

Price:  $99

Battery life (approximate):  30 hours

Screen:  6″ E-ink multi-touch (grayscale)

Resolution:  600 x 800 pixels

Memory:  4 GB (3 GB for content)

How many books is that?:  3,000

Size:  6.8″ x 4.7″ x 0.40″

Weight:  7.8 ounces

What files does it read?  Kindle (.azw), .txt, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, .doc, .docx, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion

Color options:  Silver

Connectivity:  WiFi (3G model also available)

Features include:  USB port, music playback, borrowing from library, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, rear mounted stereo speakers, over 1 million titles available in book store (Amazon.com).

Additional features:  Free cloud storage for Amazon content; Text-to-Speech can read English-language content out loud; Whispersync synchronizes last page read, bookmarks, and annotations across your devices.

5 eReader models available:  Kindle ($79), Kindle Touch ($99), Kindle Touch 3G ($149), Kindle Keyboard ($99), Kindle Keyboard 3G ($139)

 

Kindle Fire

Price:  $199

Battery life (approximate):  8 hours

Screen:  7″ multi-touch 16 million color display

Resolution:  1024 x 600 pixels

Memory:  8 GB (6 GB for content)

How many books is that?:  6,000

Size:  7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″

Weight:  14.6 ounces

What files does it read?  Kindle (.azw), .txt, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)) .doc, .docx, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8

Color options:  Black

Connectivity:  WiFi (3G to come in 2012)

Features include:  USB port, web browsing, music playback, movies, TV, apps, games, email, borrowing from library, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers, over 1 million titles available in book store (Amazon.com).

Additional features:  Free cloud storage for Amazon content; Whispersync synchronizes last page read, bookmarks, and annotations across your devices.

 

iPad 2

Price:  $499 (and up)

Battery life (approximate):  10 hours

Screen size:  9.7″ LED backlit

Resolution:  1024 x 768 pixels

Memory:  16 (32 and 64 GB available)

How many books is that?:  48,000

Size:  9.5″ x 7.31″ x 0.34″

Weight:  1.33 lbs

What files does it read?  ePub, PDF, iBooks (ePub w/Apple DRM), Kindle (w/app), Barnes & Noble (w/app), .jpg, .tiff, .gif; .doc and .docx; .htm and .html; .key; .numbers; .pages (Pages); .pdf; .ppt and .pptx; .txt; .rtf; .vcf; .xls and .xlsx

Color options:  Black, White

Connectivity:  Wi-Fi w/optional 3G

Features include:  30-pin input (USB adaptor included), microphone, web browsing, music playback, TV, movies, apps, games, email, note taking, borrow library books (w/ free app), camera on front and back for video and stills, over 200,000 titles available in iBook store.

Additional features:  VoiceOver screen reader and support for closed-captioned content, iCloud to store all your content, AirPrint lets you print directly from your iPad.

Check out this comparison of the iPad and the Kindle Fire

 

Sony Reader

Price:  $149

Battery life (approximate):  15 hours

Screen size:  6″ 16-level grayscale

Resolution:  600 x 800 pixels

Memory:  1.3 GB (up to 32 GB w/memory card)

How many books is that?:  1,200

Size:  6 7/8″ x 4 3/8″ x 3/8″

Weight:  5.9 ounces

What files does it read?  ePub (OPS v2.0, .epub file extension, Adobe DRM protected), PDF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, MP3 (Non encrypted), AAC (Non encrypted), .txt

Color options:  Black, White, Red

Connectivity:  Wi-Fi

Features include:  USB port, note taking, borrow library books, audio playback (w/ headphones), thousands of titles in Sony Bookstore.

 

Nook

Price:  $139

Battery life (approximate):  30 hours

Screen size:  6″ 16-level grayscale

Resolution:  800 x 600 pixels

Memory:  2 GB (up to 32 GB w/memory card)

How many books is that?:  1,000

Size:  6.5″ x 5″ x .47″

Weight:  7.48 ounces

What files does it read? ePub, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP

Color options: Black

Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Features include: Micro USB connector, borrow library books, over 2 million titles available at Barnes & Noble.

Additional features: Nook Friends networking, personalized wallpaper.

 

Nook Color

Price:  $249

Battery life (approximate):  8 hours

Screen size:  7″ Color Touchscreen

Resolution:  1024 x 600 pixels

Memory:  8 GB (up to 32 GB w/memory card)

How many books is that?:  5,000

Size:  8.1″ x 5″ x .48″

Weight:  15.8 ounces

What files does it read?  ePub, PDF, .xls, .doc, .ppt, .pps, .txt, .docm, .xlsm, .pptm, .ppsx, .ppsm, .docx, .xlx, .pptx, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3, MP4, AAC, MP4

Color options:  Black

Connectivity:  Wi-Fi

Features include:  USB port, web browsing, music playback, movies, apps, games, email, borrow library books, mono audio speakers, over 2 million titles available at Barnes & Noble.

Additional features:  Nook Friends networking, personalized wallpaper, supports ePub 3.

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