The Ultimate eReader Buying Guide

Though Apple has entranced many with tablets since the introduction of the iPad, eReaders are still going strong. Why? For one, they’re cheaper; prices start at about $80, making eReaders great gifts. Plus, eReaders’ E Ink screens are easier to read than a tablet’s LCD in most lighting conditions. Finally, an eReader’s battery life is generally measured in weeks instead of hours like on tablets.

When purchasing an eReader for yourself or as a gift, there are a number of different considerations that will determine which model you choose. Here are the main points and some recommended models to consider.

Overall Design

Most eReaders are compact enough to slip into a purse or jacket pocket and are light enough to hold for hours at a time, but there are other design factors to keep in mind.

First, look for an eReader that feels sturdy enough for regular travel and that’s not slippery. A soft-touch or matte finish on the back is always preferable.

Also pay close attention to the buttons. Are they where you’d expect them to be, and are they shaped and sized so you can easily press them? This is especially important on non-touchscreen models, where buttons are the only way to control the eReader. You’ll be turning pages often no matter which eReader you select, so make sure the buttons are well placed and comfortable.

Screens

All of the models featured in this guide sport highly efficient E Ink screens, which allow the battery to last a long time. The grayscale resolution of these displays has improved over the years, making text and images much sharper and easier to read.

You’ll want to pay close attention to the refresh rate, especially when turning pages. Touch is another consideration, as this feature makes it easier to navigate and eliminates the need for a keyboard.

A color display lets you view images in more than just black and white, making content such as magazines much more enjoyable. However, outdoor readability won’t be as good as with an E Ink display.

Connectivity

How will you get content onto your eReader? The most common method is via Wi-Fi, but some models also connect your reader to a computer with a cable or connect to the Internet with an optional cellular 3G data service, which is great for those who travel often. Most users will be happy with a built-in Wi-Fi connection.

Content

While most eReaders offer access to the major bestsellers, you’ll also want to consider the selection of newspapers and magazines. And if you plan on reading other types of content, make sure your eReader supports the document types you use most often.

Ecosystem

Many libraries offer eLending, the ability to checkout books for free on your eReader. If this is important to you, make sure your model includes this capability. If you’d like the ability to read your content on a device other than your eReader, note that most manufacturers also have apps available for other devices.

Extra Features

Some eReaders include a web browser or e-mail app, while others can even run apps that allow playing audio books, music, and even games.

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