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Choose between tablet and e-reader
NEW YORK (12/19/11)--Barnes & Noble has announced the release of a free update that moves its Nook e-reader closer to being a tablet. If you're one of the millions of shoppers in the market for an e-reader or tablet, here's the update you need to pick the right one for your needs--and budget (International Business Times Dec. 13).

Get an e-reader--If your passion is for electronic books and you don't care to listen to music, play games, browse the Web, or watch movies on the same device, consider an e-reader:

  • E-readers cost less than tablets. You can pay between $79 and $200 for a good e-reader, depending on your preferences: with or without ads, keyboard, 3G cellular for when you can't access Wi-Fi, the ability to read in the dark, color displays, and so on. Before you enter the store (or website), research to decide which features are important to you.
  • E-readers are improving faster than you can click a mouse. Some e-readers are even going hybrid--they act almost like tablets. Be careful of hypes for inexpensive e-readers with color screens and apps. Check the quality of display and touch responsiveness, and make sure the apps are ones you will use.
  • Reading on an e-device has become natural. Displays are easy on the eyes, text is crisp, pages turn fast, some batteries last months, the devices are lightweight, fast, and you can fit one in your pocket or purse.
  • You can buy, borrow, and even lend books. One e-reader lets you lend books to friends, with restrictions. When you buy an e-book, you're also deciding which book seller you will support: Spend time browsing e-book stores before you commit, then check your local library to find out what format it uses.
Get a tablet--If you can spend more than $200, consider getting a tablet instead of an e-reader. If you choose carefully you can get all the features you want in a reader--but better:

  • Tablets give you access to great apps. Some third-party book apps allow devices to read books you purchase from any store. If you're serious about apps, look for Google services on your tablet. Your reading experience will be more fluid and stronger than if you wind up with a device that gets apps from an alternative store such as GetJar.
  • The large screen displays documents comfortably. The basic iPad has a 9.7-inch screen compared with the 6- or 7-inch screens on an e-reader.
  • Tablets display superior color. Conventional e-books do a great job of replicating real paper--in shades of gray. If you want to admire illustrated children's books, picture books, or glossy magazines, get a tablet.
  • You'll get more memory with a tablet. The basic tablet has 16 gigabytes of memory. More expensive versions have even more.
  • You can get cellular service on a tablet. Some tablets have built-in access to cellular networks. You'll pay a separate monthly fee, but you don't always have to sign a contract to get it.
  • You can choose an almost endless array of features. Look at the accessory keyboard and how it attaches, the design, how much battery life you can expect, cellular accessibility, screen size, the ability to draw or write notes, and whether or not the device has a USB port.
When purchasing a tablet, pay attention to price--you get what you pay for. Tablets cost $300 or more, depending on specs. Before you hit the big sales, decide your preferences for processing power, screen resolution, memory, display quality and touch responsiveness. Be aware that service-provider contracts lower the price but carry a risk--today's contract won't upgrade as fast as the technology will evolve, so make sure you buy the device you want.
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