Tech Friday: Which High Quality eReader is Right For You?
Which High Quality eReader is Right For You?
Have you been in the market for a new ereader but just can’t decide where to toss your money? With so many choices coming up during your Google search, it might be mind numbing to even know where to begin. Don’t ever be tempted to purchase any piece of electronics merely because of the price. Electronics are a long-term investment and a lot of thought should go into any purchase. How long as the company been in business? Do they have good product reviews, and plenty of them? Are they ahead of their competitors when it comes to updates and bringing out the latest and the greatest? Will they still be in business in the next few years? No worries; I got you covered! Today I bring forth my top 5 choices of high-end eBook reader options that meet or exceed all of the questions above.
#1 Amazon Kindle Fire HD
The first Kindle hit the market in 2007 at a whopping $399. It was basic and offered diddly squat. It could read a book and… act as a very large paper weight? Almost six years later and what a transformation the Kindle has undergone. While you can still purchase a basic black and white “I only am an ereader” kindle for $69, why would you want to when starting at $199 you can purchase a WiFi enabled tablet, in HD no less, and replace that aging Netbook. That is still $200 less than the original Kindle. Here is why I highly suggest the Kindle Fire HD as the “One” tablet ereader for everyone of all ages.
Kindle Fire HD starts at $199 and supports all of these types of files- AZW, PDF, TXT, DOC, MOBI, PRC, HTML. Simply using your Amazon account, you can deliver movies, books, and apps to your Kindle within seconds of purchasing via the Amazon Whispernet. You can also send documents to your Kindle from any device via email, all for free. There are also less expensive options that Kindle offers, but for today, we are focusing only on the Kindle Fire HD (not 8.9”.)
The Kindle Fire HD supports text to speech, has an 11-hour battery life, a 4 hour recharge time, and is the biggest supporter of Self-published and Independent published books out there. (This is huge if you know anything about self-pub and Indi books.) The major downfall; it does not include a removable memory option, so when you go to purchase your Kindle, spend the extra $30 and upgrade from the 16GB to the 32GB. Especially if you plan to use it to store and watch movies on. The major flaw with the Kindle that I have issues with; it is not connected to Google Play, though it can be easily rooted (or so I have been told.)
#2 iPad mini
The iPad mini has only been around since 2012, but it comes from a long line of Apple products that are known for their stability and dedicated fan base. Needless to say, you know you will be getting a good product. The first thing you will notice when dealing with any Apple product is the price. Starting at $329 for a 16GB mini, you had better be a a die hard Apple fan to consider tossing around this kind of money for something so small, when for $70 more, you can buy an iPad 2. (or just buy a Kindle and take the $129 you are saving and start up that book and movie elibrary you have always wanted!)
The iPad mini has the most versatility when it comes to eBooks and in what format they can be viewed from- AZW, PDF, TXT, DOC, MOBI, PRC, HTML, EPUB, PPT. It also supports text to speech, has a 10-hour battery life, 2 hour recharge time and has the most magazines in the Apple bookstore with almost 7,000 available. Like the Kindle, it does not include a removable memory option.
You had better sit down for this next part. To upgrade from the 16GB mini to the 32GB mini, be prepared to shell out an additional $100. That brings the total of your 32GB mini to $429. I won’t even tell you what the 64GB costs because at this point, you might as well buy a brand new Laptop and a Kindle, and still have enough money left over for some Starbucks.
#3 Nook HD
We first saw the Nook when Barnes and Noble brought it to market in 2009 as their competition to the Amazon Kindle and was priced at a moderate $149. Nowadays, you can pick up the latest Nook HD starting at $199. It includes a removable memory options up to 32GB, 10 hour battery life, 4 hour recharge time, and has one of the most eBooks of the ereaders available in the Bookstore, with over 3million, via Barnes and Noble. Here is where it starts to go downhill. Unlike the Kindle Fire and iPad mini, it will only accept these file formats- PDF, TXT, DOC, EPUB, PPT and it does not support text to speech. While their website lists a plethora of supported files, the majority listed are not files associated with eBooks. What this means, is for people, such as myself, who receive a lot of books in a variety of formats to review, having a Nook would essentially render what I love obsolete.
The Nook HD starts at $199 and comes with 8GB memory and supports up to a 32GB memory card. What I do not know is what can and cannot be stored or moved to the card, which means even if you pay the extra $30 and upgrade to the 16GB Nook, it will still fall short of the Kindle.
#4 KOBO Arc
The KOBO ereader is a power-packed tablet to be reckoned with. First, to market back in 2010, it has veraciously been taking over the market since… at least in Canada. KOBO is produced by a Toronto based company and is the most widely used reader in Canada; much like the Kindle is to America.
The KOBO Arc starts at $199.99 for the 16GB version and comes in a choice of two colors; black or white. It is Android ran, supports text to speech, has a 10 hour battery life, and not only has its own bookstore, but also utilizes Google Play, Amazon, etc. for books. KOBO also claims to have over 3 million books in their online store; including over 1 million free eBooks. It does not include a removable memory option, can be expanded to both 32 and 64GB for $50 & $100. More than a Kindle upgrade, but still substantially less than an iPad mini, The biggest drawback to owning this device is its severely limited access to file formats. According to their website, you basically have one options; ePub. Major bummer. I have never personally seen a KOBO reader, nor know anybody who owns ones, so I cannot really provide a more thorough review of this product. Another bummer.
#5 Google Books
While I am not really sure you can call Google Books as ereader in the sense we are talking about (having a defined device in hand), it absolutely is an ereader. And what an awesome one it is. So why is it rated only #5 if it is so awesome? Well, for exactly what I just said; it’s not a defined device. It is many. Google Books is a browser-based ereader that can be used across a wide spectrum of gadgets. From desktops, laptops, smartphones, and other ereaders, your only limitations with Google Books are dependent upon the device you are using it on. While ePub and PDF are the only two formats that can be used for offline reading on your PC, when you purchase or download a book from the Google Play Bookstore, you can grab the book in any format desired. Again, much like the file format, Google Books is enabled to text to speech, but only those devices that are capable of it. One of the best perks above all of the other ereaders is it can be used across the spectrum from your desktop, laptop, android & iPhone, as well as almost every device ever created.
(full list here: https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/1727131?hl=en )
You can store all of your books in a digital cloud allowing you access to it anywhere and from anything as long as you have an internet or data connection while allowing you to fluidly switch between any of the options.- laptop to phone to eReader etc. This means you will never have a memory card to worry about. For added perks, it has the most books of all in their bookstore, coming in at over 5 million! And of course, if you have a smartphone, you also have access to a plethora of Apps to accommodate whatever style of reading you have.
What to consider when buying an eReader…
Will you be using it for more than reading? Games, movies, music, apps, work, school, etc. This can have a major impact on how you spend your money. If you said yes to the majority above, then spend the extra money and buy either a Kindle Fire HD or the iPad Mini. If money is an issue, I’d go straight for the Kindle Fire HD. Side by Side, the iPad Mini and Kindle give each other a run for their money, and frankly, I just can’t justify the price of an iPad Mini. Either way you go, it will more than pay for itself in the long run and with services such as the iStore and Amazon Prime, you literally have Instant movies (same as Netflix & Hulu) at your fingertips 24/7 for free (included in the yearly Prime Membership fee for Amazon. Unsure about what Apple offers)
If you are looking only for something to read on and prefer not to use your smartphone or do not have a smartphone, then a basic black and white reader or lower quality color eReaders like the Aluratek LIBRE will be where you want to start, but we’ll cover these little guys in a later session.
If you are looking for compatibility, take a look at the other pieces of technology you use. If you are a Mac person, would it make sense to buy a Kindle? Or if you are an Android and Windows based person, buying an iAnything, probably wouldn’t make too much sense in the long run.
You might have noticed that I really only talk about the Kindle Fire HD and the iPad Mini. There is a reason for this. In terms of versatility, these two knock all of the competition out of the water. With so many formats of books and magazines available, why would you limit your product to just a few select few? According to the research firm IDC, ereaders have been making a steady decline among consumers over the past few years. I’m talking about ereaders, not tablets, to which you technically include the iPad Mini, Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD, and KOBO Arc. One of the reasons for this decline is because of the surge of tablets that are the same price or cheaper than ereaders and offer consumers substantially more bang for their buck. Why would you pay $99 for a black and white gadget that ONLY reads books when you can buy a colorized tablet running on the Android operating system for about $70, thus allowing you to read, and mini-compute from the same device?
In closing, I hope I have given you a lot to think about and even more new and fun things to discover. Check back often as I follow up this topic covering the low-end spectrum readers and tablets that have infiltrated the market, some perfect and not so perfect for the budget conscious and those looking for a starter tablet and reader for their kids. I will also be doing follow ups for file formats, eBook reader & desktop apps, and ways to get free books, both hard copies and eBooks!
Reader Question: Do you own an eReader? How did you make your choice? Was it what you expected?