Considering purchasing an eReader? Confused about the difference between tablet computers and eReaders? Not sure which one you should buy?
With the introduction of the iPad last year, many predicted the quick demise of the eReader, since the newest device could function as both a computer and an electronic book reader. However, several significant differences between the two continue to make both eReaders and tablet computers excellent, but equally different, personal electronic devices. Here’s the rundown:
eReaders are devices that are essentially dedicated to reading. While they do have the capability to surf the internet, the best use of the device is and will continue to be reading your favorite books without the distractions that you will find on other devices not specifically designed for reading.
- The best eReaders use E-Ink technology, which means that the page that you are reading on your eReader will appear more like a real book, and less like the “computer screen” you will be reading on a tablet computer. E-Ink technology also makes it easy to read in places that a tablet computer just won’t do, like outside in bright sunlight. Currently the best eReader, the Amazon Kindle, uses the E-Ink technology, and continues not to include color enhancement, simply due to the fact that current technology, in color, actually provides a distracting reading experience that can result in eye strain. If you are an avid reader, this is NOT a negative feature for the device, since 95% of what you read in a traditional novel is not in color.
- eReaders make it easy to go to your favorite eBookstore, browse the selection of eBooks, purchase them, and quickly download them to your device.
- Many eReaders come with free 3G service for the lifespan of the device. This includes purchasing books, surfing the internet, checking your email, and other online activities that you can do with the device.
- Nearly all eReaders come with other functions, such as internet browsers, MP3 players, games, WIFI capability, document readers that enable you to carry your own documents with you, and much more.
- The battery life on an eReader can be anywhere from one week to over a month, since the power required to operate the device is far less than a tablet computer.
- An eReader is light, typically weighing about eight ounces, usually less than an half inch thick, and sized comfortably, just like your favorite books.
- The best eReaders typically sell for hundreds of dollars less than the least powerful tablet computer, and can more justifiably be replaced as the technology advances.
Tablet computers are devices that are designed to function like personal computers. Not only can they read books, but they can do so much more that the eReader function in a tablet computer is almost like an afterthought.
- Tablet computers use LCD technology, which means that the page you will read is “backlit,” and while they definitely provide an excellent visual experience for all of the other functions of the device, they can also be extremely distracting or cause eye strain when you are reading for long periods.
- Tablet computers also make it easy to go to your favorite eBookstore, browse the selection of eBooks, and easily purchase and download them to your device.
- Tablet computers do not come with free 3G service. In order to utilize 3G with a tablet computer, you will be forced to purchase the device (and a cellular service contract) from one of your local cellular service providers, and certain devices are specific to certain service providers.
- Tablet computers are available with WIFI, meaning that you can connect to existing wireless networks free of charge, and surf the internet, download books, etc.
- The battery life for a tablet computer is limited, at best, to a few hours, so you’ll need to charge your device daily, or even multiple times daily, if you are a heavy user.
- A tablet computer typically weighs three times what an eReader weighs and can be somewhat uncomfortable to hold for longer periods of time.
- Depending on the specific model you choose, many tablets can record HD video and take high-quality photos. And, tablet computers can display and play any type of media, including music, movies, and games. They have fully functioning web browsers, email capabilities, and you can manage your calendar and your contacts just like you can on your smart phone.
- Unlike eReaders, tablet computers cost hundreds of dollars, and for me, cannot be justifiably replaced as quickly as my $189 Kindle when the technology changes (and believe me, it will).
As you can see, there are significant differences in the devices, and your choice should definitely be based on the intended use.
As an avid reader, I chose to purchase both an eReader and a tablet computer. And, this is a decision that I do not regret in the least. For the best true reading experience, no device matches the Amazon Kindle, and for the best computing experience, no device matches the Motorola Xoom. And, my advice to you is to choose the best device for your needs…and, if you find you need to, get both devices! You won’t be sorry!