Choosing an E-reader

by Spanner Spencer

    The rise in digital publishing has seen e-books overtake sales of printed material by a significant margin. Most e-books are available for all e-reader platforms, in one way or another, so the most important decision is in choosing a device that offers the features that best suits your needs.

    Display Type

    Your e-reader must be as legible as possible, otherwise you're not going to get the same -- or better -- experience as reading printed material. Display types for e-reader devices are split into two main categories: LCD and e-ink. LCD displays have the advantage of offering color, but need a backlight in order to make them visible. E-ink is black and white, but resembles paper and print far more closely. It is also very easy to read in bright daylight, when an LCD is likely to be washed out. Traditionally, e-ink displays can't be seen in the dark, but Amazon introduced the first self-illuminated e-ink e-reader in 2012.

    E-book Store Access

    Acquiring new reading material on a digital device is important, and hinges on the device's ability to access online e-book stores and resources. Most e-readers favor a particular e-book store. For example, the Kindle uses Amazon.com's Kindle Store, the Nook uses the Barnes & Noble store and the iPad uses Apple's iBooks Store. Browse through the various e-book stores on your computer before deciding which e-reader to buy, and also research other resources different devices can access, such as the Gutenberg Project and Manybooks.net that offer free e-book downloads.

    Connectivity

    In order to download new reading material, e-reader devices employ different types of connectivity. Consideration should be given as to when, where and how you want to buy or download new e-books. Most devices include Wi-Fi connectivity, which provides a fast and reliable Internet connection as long as you have wireless network access. Some models of e-reader also include free 3G cellular connectivity, which allows you to wirelessly download new material anywhere you have a cellphone signal. Typically, 3G-equipped devices are more expensive, but rarely charge extra for using the 3G service.

    Alternative E-reader Options

    Other devices can also be used to view e-books, besides dedicated e-readers. For example, e-reader software is available for computers, including applications that run inside a Web browser. These allow you to read the same book, from the same page you left off, on different computers. Smartphones and tablets also have e-reader applications, many of which synchronize your last page read to your computer or dedicated e-reader device. If you already own a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer, using e-reader software can save a lot of money, as most applications are provided free of charge. You can use your iPad to read books from the Kindle store, for example, using the free Kindle app.

    About the Author

    Spanner Spencer has been writing since 2005 for a variety of print and online publications. Focusing on entertainment, gaming and technology, his work has been published by Eurogamer.net, "The Escapist," "GamesTM," "Retro Gamer," "Empire," "Total PC Gaming" "The Guardian," among others. Spencer is a qualified medical electronics engineer with a Business and Technology Education Council certificate in technical writing from Huddersfield Technical College.

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