Which e-reader?

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With Santa Claus checking his lists as Christmas is approaching, now is a good time to determine which e-reader to request.

We all know that Kindle, Nook, and Kobo are the most popular dedicated e-readers. It is also old news that Apps are available to turn your iPad, Tablet or PC into a virtual e-reader. The aim of this article is to give you a broad overview of the different devices. We are not going to bog you down with all the technical specifications of each reader. We don’t aim to give you all the information you need to make a decision, but we’ll tell you about what is out there so that you can decide.

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Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire has been around since the end of 2011. This device can stream videos as well as display e-books. It has a multi-touch color display. It has a fairly powerful processor and comes with up to 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of on-board storage space.

Kindle Fire a multi-purpose device- this counts in its favor and against it, a principle that applies to all the multi-purpose devices we are going to list. A multi-purpose tool is never as good as a dedicated tool. A dedicated tool, however, can only do one thing.

Very recently, and just in time for Christmas, Amazon released the newest range of Kindle Fire devices: Fire HD (6 inch display) for $99 and Fire HD Kids Edition for $149. The extra $50 gets you a two-year “anti kid” guarantee.

The Fire HD 8.9 will set you back a cool $379. It is 20% lighter than the iPad Air, and out performs it when it comes to Wi-Fi connection speed and sound performance.

This device can keep the Fire burning for about 12 hours before the battery fails.

As with all color, back lit LCD displays, it is more taxing to read than the E Ink readers.

The Kindle Fire, like all Kindles, caters exclusively to Amazon. It is a dedicated Amazon device and as such makes the whole online buying experience very straightforward. It is now possible to share content, apps, books and video between family members via a special Amazon service, Family Library.

Family Library is a big step forward for the up to now, close-handed Amazon.


Amazon has also released three new or updated versions of the most popular e-reader. The Kindle with a 6 inch display, double the previous storage capacity and a touch screen can be had for $79.

The Kindle Voyage is thinner and lighter, and because you get “less” you pay more. The base version costs $199 and the top of the range one, with free 3G connection, $269.

Battery life is in the order of weeks. Take note that enabling Wi-Fi or 3G takes a serious bite out of the battery life.

Kindles do not support the EPUB format.

As its name suggests, the Kindle Paperwhite has the very clear Paperwhite display system. The whiteness and clarity of the display is akin to that of a normal paper page. It costs $119. To get rid of the ads on its 6 inch display you have to fork out an extra $20.

The Paperwhite is generally regarded as the best dedicated e-reader on the market. It is easy to use, has a wonderful battery life, can hold more than two thousand books and has a brilliantly clear display.


The Nook is Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle. Reviews indicate that it is as good as the Kindles.

Great battery life, a capacity that will easily hold 2000 books, a brilliant display, a very competitive price at $119 and rubber coated edges are but some of the features that makes the Nook GlowLight a winner.

None of the Nooks feature 3G or support for Audio-books. These are not really required features to make an e-reader great, but nice to have.

Nooks support the EPUB file format. This means that you cannot read any Amazon books, with its MOBI and AZW formats on it. Whereas Amazon’s MOBI and AZW formats are proprietary, EPUB is an open source standard.

As in the case of the “normal” Kindles, this is most probably what you will base your decision on, Does Amazon offer more books at a better price than all the other bookstores that use EPUB? Is Amazon’s retail system so user-friendly that the others are deemed inconvenient?

Yes, even when it comes to choosing an e-reader, philosophy plays a role!

Although Barnes & Noble has issued various Nook flavors over the years, only the NOOK GlowLight is offered on sale on their website at this point.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK

What we have here is an answer to the Kindle Fire. And, if we may say so, Barnes & Noble was quite clever. Whereas the Kindle Fire is restricted to a closed Amazon system, the SGT4 NOOK, built on the popularity and reliability of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 is not restricted to any system.

As a matter of fact, with the e-reading apps that are available, you could even read and view Amazon content on your SGT4 NOOK.

It will only set you back $179.99, just a drop more than half of what a Kindle HD goes for. At the time of writing Barnes & Noble was offering $200 worth of free content (Books, Magazines or TV Shows) to sweeten the deal.

Kobo Tablets

Kobo is a Canadian company that specializes in e-readers.

They currently offer four e-reader tablets. These are the Kobo Arc ($100), Kobo Arc 7 ($160), Kobo Arc 7HD ($210) and the Kobo Arc 10HD ($400). (Prices are only to give an indication and might vary from retailer to retailer.

While the reviews are mixed on these devices, keep in mind that in comparison to Amazon, Kobo is tiny and more likely to go under, or to become a massive overnight hit.

Kobo e-readers

To repeat, Kobo is a Canadian company that specializes in e-readers.

Kobo offers a wide variety of dedicated e-readers. The Kobo Touch ($80), Kobo Glo ($130), Kobo Aura ($140), Kobo Aura HD ($170) and Kobo Aura H2O ($180) are currently being sold by Kobo.

The Kobo Aura H20 is waterproof and can be read without fear in the bath. This is a nice feature.

iPads and other Tablets

There are a slew of tablets, phablets and other time killers that can also be used to double as an e-reader. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and some others have created apps that make it possible for you to read their content on these devices.

If you are looking at one of these devices, you are probably a casual reader and not a bookworm. Don’t worry; we won’t judge you for that particular shortcoming.

When it comes to tablets, and this includes the Kindle Fire series, Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK, and the bunch of Kobos, you are choosing more than just a book reader. If you move away from a dedicated e-book reader, you sacrifice some features like battery life and font clarity in order to gain a tablet’s multi-purpose aspect. We will discuss the e-reader vs tablet issue in another blog post.

The End

If you live in the US or Canada, you can choose between the Kindle, NOOK and Kobo readers without any worries. The factories and service centers are just around the corner.

If you live in Europe, it is touch and go for the Kobo devices. True, they have a presence in at least five European countries, and the postal system is world class, but we guess that Kobo will still have to prove themselves in order to gain our confidence.

If you live anywhere else, it must be the Kindle, and we say this against our own collective will. The Kindle is not inherently better than the NOOK, but Amazon has a better worldwide presence. If, as happens from time to time, something technical goes wrong, then it would probably be easier for you to get the device back to Amazon.

But whatever you do, read, because as Zen Scribe likes to say, “Reading helps for colds, broken hearts and confused minds. Reading takes you where you want to be, so that you can transform the place you are at.”

Which e-reader is only the beginning of the story.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Trick or Treat? Kobo to Focus on E-Readers, Not Tablets. | InstaScribe

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