By Kenny Trinh
Editor of the gadget review publication netbooknews.com (https://www.netbooknews.com/)
[Editor’s note: Periodically we like to open up our blog to others in the reading and education industries, to get a wider perspective of the discoveries and trends happening in these fields. Mr. Trinh graciously offered to contribute today’s post, which has been edited for format and clarity. You can find his LinkedIn profile at https://linkedin.com/in/anhktrinh. Please direct any questions to him in the comments section below.]
With lots of options available today, it’s quite easy to get stranded when deciding which eReader to buy. If you know which features and factors to consider, choosing the right eReader becomes less daunting, and you can choose the right device without much hassle.
Here are the top eight factors you should consider:
- Display and Screen
Considering that you’ll be spending a lot of time reading books on an eReader, the screen is a critical factor to consider. Most eReaders available in the market come with electronic ink (eInk) technology fitted in the display, though some have LCD displays.
The eInk display utilizes microcapsules that make the text appear similar to text printed on a piece of paper. For people who tend to be hooked on the eReader for long hours, this is a great feature since it minimizes eye strain, and in addition, it conserves the battery life on your device.
While the eInk technology is a phenomenal feature, it relies on reflected light; hence, it’s not visible in areas with low ambient light. To defeat this limitation, some eReaders are fitted with backlight for reading when the external light is not sufficient, a feature that turns on automatically.
LCD displays are beneficial for functionality that includes more than just reading (i.e. for people who want to play games, check their photos, read comics), all with high resolution. However, they are backlit, which can be hard on the eyes long-term.
In addition, you should consider displays that allow you to resize or change fonts, especially if you have low visual ability, and those that provide links to word definitions or other hypertext material.
- Available Content
The content available on an eReader is a critical factor when choosing the most appropriate device. For most people, this is about deciding whether they’ll settle for the Amazon Kindle or they’ll choose another company’s product. That’s because Amazon has exclusive rights to books that can’t be accessed through other eReaders.
But while the devices can cost a premium when compared to others on the market, the content available with an Amazon product is massive. It’s worth noting that about a third of the titles available on Amazon are exclusive to the Kindle devices. A lot of your decision in this category may depend on how avid a reader you are and what your scope of reading topics is.
Today’s eReaders come equipped with buttons, a touchscreen, or both features integrated. The touchscreen feature makes the devices quite intuitive, but on the downside, they consume more power than those with button controls (i.e. Amazon Kindle 1, Kobo eReader). However, they have become the market standard due to their appeal and functionality with eInk readers. If you’re someone who can’t get to a charger easily, you may want to go with the buttons, but otherwise, the touchscreen is the natural choice.
- Battery Life
It’s annoying when your device shuts down unexpectedly just when you’ve started reading the best part of a book. That’s often the case if you have a myriad of additional applications loaded onto the device, including WiFi. The fewer the features, the longer the battery life.
If you want a device that can let you finish reading a novel when you are away from the grid, choose one that is simple and without applications unnecessary for the reading process.
- Storage Capacity
Available storage is generally not a big issue considering that books are relatively small in size when compared to videos and images. The typical space on an eReader is 4GB, but you can get some with up to 32GB of storage.
If you intend to keep a massive library of books on your device, then going for more memory can be ideal. You can expand the memory available on some eReaders via memory cards, if you so choose.
Even with the base models that have lower storage, though, you can store hundreds of books before you need to upgrade. And even then, most vendors provide cloud storage services for all of your books, and you can always access your favorite novel on-demand.
To download a book to your eReader, you’ll need an internet connection. The devices come with 3G connectivity, WiFi, or a combination of both.
If you’ll be downloading the books in areas with full WiFi coverage, then having an eReader with cellular connectivity might not be a critical factor. However, it is a must-have feature if your coverage is not available or reliable.
- Size and Weight
The most appealing aspect of an eReader, especially if you read voraciously, is its ability to help readers avoid carrying loads of heavy books. As such, it makes sense to buy a device that’s easier to carry around with you wherever you go.
eReaders come in many different sizes. Some are small enough to fit in your pocket, but other models are larger. Here, it’s a question of deciding what’s most important. If the screen size is at the top of your priority list, you’ll want to overlook the pocket-size models and go for a bigger device; if you’re looking for easy of carrying or fitting in your purse, you might want to choose something smaller.
Whichever you choose, most eReaders are so light and compact it won’t be a huge issue even if you’ve chosen a bigger display.
As we’ve noted, you can choose to do more than just read books on your eReader. Additional applications allow you to watch videos, surf the web, send emails, and sync with other devices in your network. While these additions are good to have, they can make the device pricier than models with base functionality.
Something else to consider — eReaders are so convenient, they’re often great to bring with you to the pool or the beach. That means you might want to look for some waterproofing. Be careful, though, what you choose, as some are only splash-proof while others are designed to handle more of a deluge.
The most important thing to remember is to do your homework — before you go out to spend your hard-earned cash on an eReader, decide what features you want, and see what’s available with those features in your price range. An eReader can quickly become a trusted companion, so the closer it matches your needs, the better off you’ll be.