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E-reader or tablet That is the question

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NEW YORK (7/14/10)--Manufacturers of electronic reading devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook are engaged in a battle for your dollars. This is your chance to take advantage of price wars between e-readers. But, before you buy, make sure the device will meet your needs as well as a tablet computer like Apple’s iPad or Lenovo’s IdeaPad (The Wall Street Journal June 28). How do you decide? First, some definitions: An e-reader (electronic reader) is a lightweight device for reading content, such as e-books, e-newspapers, and documents. Besides being able to download content, it can do other Web-based tasks. The display is black and white. E-readers can cost between $190 and $800. Smartphones and PDAs that display text can also function as e-readers. A tablet is a laptop personal computer that may allow you to take notes using handwriting on the touch screen. The display is color and you’re able to install any compatible application (app) or operating system. Tablets can cost between $500 and $1,500. When making your evaluation, consider:
* How much you read. If you read a lot, you’ll benefit most from an e-reader, even if you buy a tablet too. E-reader batteries last for weeks. The tablet’s large screen uses technology that makes it easy to view whether indoors or out, a feature of e-readers as well. * Attributes. Look at what the different electronic devices can do. Features vary: Make sure you want what you’re paying for. SmartMoney has put together a handy chart for comparing features. * Content. If you’re going to use a reader for books, magazines, and newspapers, look at both cost and availability of content. You don’t want to purchase a device that won’t let you obtain content you want. No matter which device you get, look for e-book stores that offer content in a free electronic publishing (EPUB) format that any reader can use. * Buying in a brick-and-mortar store. This will give you a feel for the device. The return policies and other benefits may be better than if you purchase it online. * Waiting. More e-readers will appear later this year and prices may drop. Or not. If you haven’t found an e-reader that fits your needs and budget, it may be worth the wait.