2012 eBook Reader Holiday Buying Guide
Reader K Harris emailed me a couple of weeks ago with the following question:
Hi! I was wondering if you were planning on doing a post on e-readers for the coming holiday gift-buying season. I have a Sony Reader Touch which I love dearly but I’m feeling seduced by the new generation of readers with built-in lights. I feel a Nook makes more sense as an upgrade (I won’t have to convert all my current epubs and can avoid contributing to the Amazon monopoly) but the Kindle’s better backlight and print quality sway me and I feel the need of expert input to help me decide. Please consider it if you’re not already planning it, and if you are planning it, I look forward to the results. Thanks!
The following is my recommendations for eReader purchases.
The eInk devices
There are two types of eink devices on the market these days. One is the low, bargain priced eink devices and the integrated light version.
* Bargain price eink devices.
This is a device you might give to a kid or a grandparent and all they need to do is turn pages. Organization and notetaking is possible, but tedious. The Kobo and Nook Simple Touch both have touch screens. The Kindle Basic has a rocker. The screen size is 5″ for the Kobo Mini and 6″ for the Kindle Basic and Nook Simple Touch. Choices include the Kindle Basic at $69.00; Kobo Mini at $79 or Kobo Touch at $99; and the Nook Simple Touch at $79; Sony Reader at $129.99.
The best in this class of bargain devices is the Nook Simple Touch. You get great in store customer service and a 6″ eink touch screen at the price of $79.00.
* Lighted eink device
The key difference between the lighted eink device and the basic, bargain priced eink devices is the integrated light. There are three options for fans of the integrated light. Kobo Glo ($129.99), Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light ($119) and the Kindle Paperwhite ($119). All three feature 6″ eink touch screens, wifi, and the integrated light. The Kobo Glo and Nook Simple Touch have a mini SD slot which expands your memory options up to 32 GB. Kindle offers to store up to 5 GB of your books for free via Amazon’s Personal Document service; however, you will need to be connected to WiFi to access your cloud stored archive.
Most reviewers who have seen both the Nook and the Kindle Paperwhite feel that the uplighting by Kindle is more even and less intrusive than the sidelighting offered on the Nooks. Based on the quality of the lighting, screen, and the low priced books available on the Kindle, the Paperwhite is my recommendation for the integrated light devices.
Within the tablet market you have many options from new entries like the Microsoft Surface and Google’s Nexus to the multi-function devices such as the Nook HD Tablet, Kindle Fire HD, and the Kobo ARC. Within the tablet market, there is the 7″ screen and the 10″ screen devices. The larger devices are more for entertainment and less for reading. I never was able to enjoy reading on an iPad in bed.
If you are buying the 7″ tablets, you are buying it because you want a device you will primarily use to read, play a few games, and watch videos. You may answer a few emails and browse the web but the 7″ devices are not for creating content but merely consuming it. 7″ tablets are as follows:
- Kindle Fire HD ($199)
- Google’s Nexus 7 ($199)
- Nook HD 16 GB ($229)
- Kobo ARC ($299)
- Samsung Tab2 7.0 ($299 – but often discounted slightly)
- iPad Mini ($329)
In this shoot out, the Google Nexus 7 is the winner because it runs a full Android Operating System rather than the frankenstein one offered by Amazon and you can still watch all the Amazon movies with the Amazon Instant Video App for Android. For a slightly lower resolution (and it’s not all that noticeable), the Google Nexus 7 offers more options in terms of Apps and content. The Kindle Fire HD is the second runner up based on price and the screen resolution. It has the best screen resolution of all the 7″ devices for the lowest price.
While BN’s device has a screen resolution similar to Amazon, B&N doesn’t offer the content that Amazon or Google offers for its devices and when it comes to having a multi function device, you will want the ability to easily purchase music and movies and take those with you.
What to Buy
If all you want is an ereader device, I recommend getting the Kindle Paperwhite. At $119, you get the best integrated light eink screen on the market; access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library where you can borrow one book a month for free; as well as the best pricing available.
If you are upgrading from an existing device, I’d stick with the same format unless you are prepared to download your previous purchases and convert them. Thus if you own an ePub reader, it makes sense to go with the Nook Simple Touch Glow Light.
If you are in the market for a multi function device but are still primarily a reader, then take a look at the Google Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD. The Google Nexus 7 will give you the most options. You can download the Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Sony apps. You can have full access to the Google Android Marketplace. Even the movies that are on sale at Amazon can be viewed via the Amazon Instant Video App. Have a little more money to spend? I really love my iPad Mini.
Best of luck deciding which device is perfect for you. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll answer in the comments.