2013 Holiday Tech Guide: eReaders

The holiday shopping season can be a time of joy and excitement. More new computers, tablets, phones, TV’s and the like are purchased this time of year than any other. How do you know what a good buy is and what tech traps to avoid? Working at WorldStart I’m always on the lookout for the newest tech at the best deals so I decided to share some tips.

Part 2: eReaders

Industry experts expect eReaders to be one of the most popular tech items for 2013. The performance and quality of these devices has steadily improved and the price has dramatically dropped. You can now get a very capable eReader for as low as $69.

eReaders: What You Need To Know

An eReader is a device, usually in the 5″ to 8″ screen size, designed to read books. Since the primary purpose of an eReader is reading,paper the things to look for are a bit different than some might expect.

Screen: The best eReader screens use eInk, a technology which attempts to reproduce the look of printed text on paper while using very low power. While the screens only come in black & white, they do feature matte finishes and display technology to make reading outdoors easy. Some eReaders offer reading lights or glowing/sidelit displays which allow you to continue reading in low light or dark conditions. Avoid eReaders which use LCD displays, as many people feel reading on them for long periods of time produces eyestrain and are very difficult to read outdoors or with reflecting light sources.

eBook Support: While the term eBook is used to describe any book which has been converted into a digital copy, there are quite a few competing standards and stores to purchase them from. Most eReaders only support a few of these standards, so look at the offerings in the eBook store compatible with the device you’re looking at before you buy. The two biggest (and thus largest selection) are Amazon.com Kindle and  Barnes & Noble Nook.

Weight & Size: You might be thinking, at what point is he going to get to the specifications such as the RAM or processor? When it comes to eReaders, even the lowest powered processor or smallest RAM is sufficient to load a book. The most important, and often overlooked, specification is the weight and size. Since these devices are meant to be held while you read books, it’s important to look for a device with the lowest weight and comfortable screen size. It’s a good idea to hold one in person at a retail store to see if you like it before either purchasing it in store or ordering online.

Wi-Fi or 3G/4G: The final item to consider is if your eReader includes support for Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G/4G Internet service. The service is usually bundled as part of the device and has no monthly fee, but is only designed to do basic tasks such as shop and download eBooks and look up spelling/definitions. Most eReaders include enough memory for a 100 books at minimum (and up to 2000 on some models), so decide if the always-on connection is critical to your needs. My friend who travels daily on the train wanted the 3G model so he could browse for new books on the way to work while I purchased the cheaper Wi-Fi mode,l and shop when I’m at home connected to Wi-Fi.

~ Tim


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