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What’s the Best E-Reader? Some Tips on Choosing the Right One

Apr 09, 2019

Calling all bibliophiles: it’s your week — National Library Week. And, since you don’t need an excuse to curl up with a new fiction or nonfiction book, we’re here to help you learn about an alternative to those hardcovers or paperbacks — e-readers and tablets.

Just like everything else these days, reading — books, magazines, newspapers and others — has given way to technology. And, whether we like it or not, our reading material is now available at the click of a few buttons, whether you’re checking it out from your local public library or downloading an e-book for your stash.

Short for electronic readers, e-readers are portable devices that allow you to read digital books (e-books), magazines, newspapers or other material. The first ever, dubbed the Rocket, was created in 1998, allowing for the downloading of e-books to a PC using a serial cable. Since then, brands have come and gone, and e-book reader usage has only climbed.

So, how exactly do e-readers work? Our Kinetic by Windstream team will get into that in our three tips to finding the best e-reader for your needs.

1. Find one that fits in with your usage.

What do you intend to do with the device?

If you want to download a book, all you have to do is visit your e-reader app (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc.) and purchase through the app. Readers can also download e-books from the corresponding website (e.g., Amazon for Kindle or Barnes & Noble for the Nook). You’ll want to take into account where you do most of your e-book shopping, too, as certain devices restrict purchasing from other vendors.

If you plan to borrow an e-book from your local library, there will be a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to know that a library will have only a certain number of digital copies of an e-book — just as it would a physical one. That means that you’ll have to borrow a copy — and that your device should be compatible with the checkout system. Most use OverDrive, though be sure to double check before reviewing whether your device will work with that system. And, while you can renew, know that once the due date comes up, the book will no longer be available for viewing on your device.

2. Look into features, too.

Take a look at your reading preferences. Consider:

  • How often do you read on your device?
  • How long are you using the device to read in one sitting?
  • Do you need or prefer color on the page, even if it’s just a splash, or is black and white OK?
  • Do you want to do more with the device than read?
  • Do you want to download e-books from more than one vendor?

Your responses to the questions above will determine what will be the best e-reader for you.

3. Choose your device.

Now that you’ve thought about your responses, let’s renew the debate: e-reader or tablet? What’s the difference?

Both have about the same physical dimensions — size and weight — so the biggest differences are in price and use. Tablets allow you to do more things, like surf the web with Kinetic Internet, play games or even peruse social media accounts. They’re also typically more expensive than e-readers, which have very limited functions.

Let’s take a closer look at e-readers. While some of these devices have color screens, many are still black and white. The two most popular are the Kindle suite by Amazon and the Nook by Barnes & Noble. Each has a version that includes built-in Wi-Fi, so you can use your Kinetic Internet to download your library and read to your heart’s content.

  • The Kindle — This suite comes in three different options — basic, Paperwhite and Oasis. Each increase in specs and in price, with Oasis being the top of the line product. The basic and Oasis versions also allow for audibles when paired with Bluetooth-enabled speakers or headphones. The basic also allows for Wi-Fi connectivity, while the Paperwhite and Oasis can connect to Wi-Fi but also have built-in free cellular connectivity.
  • Nook Glowlight — The latest version of the Glowlight boasts a long battery life — it lasts up to 50 days on a single charge — and a “night mode” in which users can adjust the screen’s brightness on their own or have the device automatically dim, following the sun’s natural progression throughout the day. It also includes built-in Wi-Fi.

Note that many e-readers require you to buy from select e-bookstores. While there are methods around it, it will require a few more steps.

So, onto the other option — tablets. The most popular here are iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tab devices, though other brands — like Lenovo Yoga Tab, Microsoft Surface Pro and Amazon Fire — are also contenders. Here’s a bit more about the two most popular.

  • iPads — Apple’s iPads also have different versions, from the iPad mini all the way up to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Some reviewers have likened the Pro version to a laptop because it runs on iOS 11. The operating system created a new dock that allows users to open recently used apps and files, among other features. The basic and mini versions don’t have as many high-end features as the Pro models, but they will still get the job done if you’re looking to use your high-speed internet to browse through what your next book selection might be. Here’s a comparison of the iPad models.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab — Depending on the model you decide on, Samsung Galaxy Tabs can come with a keyboard or simply as a handheld device. The Tabs also range from a basic version, Tab E Lite and Kids Tab E, to a more premium version, Tab S. The Tab S models also come with a stylus and are HDR-ready, which means you’ll notice differences in contrast and color ranges in images.

Read up on reviews, or test out what you’re wanting in store to fit the perfect fit for your preferences. Happy reading!

Windstream is not affiliated with any of the products or companies named in this blog post.

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