E-Book Reader Showdown: Nook vs. iPad vs. Sony vs. Kindle

Now is the time to enter the e-book reader market as the many choices from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Apple are all available for under $250, many for under $150. Millions of books are available, including many free public-domain titles, which means you can read thousands of books without paying anything. Choosing the right E-Book reader can be determined by examining the following 8 key concepts.


E-book readers can be had for under $150, and the best one in that price range is Amazon’s Kindle at $139.00, which is the best basic e-book reader. For an additional $50, the user can add built-in cellular data, which allows you to download books anywhere you can access a compatible cellular provider such as AT&T and Rogers. An additional $50 will also give you the use of Wi-Fi, so you can download as many books as you wish from any openly available wifi connection. Amazon’s Kindle is also the best e-book reader with Wi-Fi and 3G models at $189.00. Those wanting a touch screen Wi-Fi 3G model will want to invest in the Sony Reader – Daily Edition PRS-900 or PRS-950 which start at $259.00. More expensive models offer better Wi-Fi options include the Kindle DX and the Apple iPad. The iPad has many additional apps, which can be downloaded, therefore, turning this into a laptop competitor, but at a much higher price range.

Size of Screen and Weight

When using e-books, the font is adjustable on all models so the print can be made much larger than with a traditional print book. Since the font size can be adjusted many readers prefer a smaller, lighter unit. The lightest and smallest e-book reader, Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350, has a 5-inch touch screen and weighs 5.5 ounces. The newest Kindle features a 6 inch screen and weighs in at 8.7 ounces, while the Barnes & Noble – E-ink Nook weighs in at about 12 ounces and features a 6 inch screen. Other options include the Nook Color which features a 7 inch screen, but weighs almost a pound and the Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-950, which also has a 7 inch screen and weighs approximately 10 ounces. The Kindle DX and the Apple iPad both weigh in at a little over a pound and feature a 9.7 inch screen.

Location of Use

The e-book reader has two choices for how the system operates, the e-ink readers and the LCD readers. For e-Ink readers your options include the Nook, Kindle and Sony Reader which produces a black and white page which looks similar to traditional pages in books, allowing the reader to be used in sunlight without glare. This makes the books readers very easy on the eyes (no strain from glare) but requires the addition of lighting to read in the dark. This option is great for people who enjoy reading pages that look like newsprint. These readers are very easy to read when enjoying the great outdoors. The best e-ink screens are produced by Amazon Kindles. The second option is an LCD screen, which are hard to read in bright light. These readers give users a built-in touch screen making them very easy to use. These readers also have the advantage of color, while the e-ink readers only show black and white. For parents another great advantage is that these readers provide interactive children’s books. The best LCD screen is found on the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which also has the best touch screen.

Wi-Fi or 3G

As a user, you will have to decide whether or not you want an ebook reader capable of going online with 3G. Since 3G is available on so many other devices, it is probably not a requirement on the e-book reader, unless you are constantly on the go and require the ability to purchase new books in locations with no WiFi access. Except for the iPad (which does many things additional to reading books, such as apps and browsing the internet) the additional cost is probably not worth it for most readers. However, the option is available for most devices such as the Wi-Fi and 3G versions of the Amazon Kindle, which have a premium associated with the 3G connectivity.

Access on Other Devices

Almost all the e-book readers allow the reader to access their books on other devices through the use of free apps. This allows users to read their books on their computers, their Blackberry/Android/Iphone and many other devices. The best support for other devices is provided by Amazon and Barnes & Noble with no noticeable difference between the two.

Downloading e-book files from EPUB

The EPUB format is the current widely accepted open format for reading books in the public domain (those > 100 years old) and allows the reader to read books that 100% freely available. Books in the public domain are generally any book written before 1923. Sites such as Project Gutenberg contain more than 100,000 free books that you can download today and start reading. ALL of the e-book readers support the EPUB format except for the Amazon Kindle. However, even the Kindle can access EPUB books if you use a converter to convert them to an alternate format.

Access to Paid Books

The widest selection of books is offered by Amazon’s Kindle with over 700,000 titles. Unfortunately, the most popular readers usually have only have one available source for their books (for example, amazon for kindles, barnes and noble for nooks). The iPad is the exception as it can read books from almost all sources.

Other Options

The most versatile reader, at a moderate cost, is the Nook Color which can serve as a Web browser, has a media player and supports music streaming from Pandora.


All things considered, the best bang for your buck is the Amazon Kindle and the Nook Color. Both of these options are relatively low priced, give you access to hundreds of thousands of books, and allow you to read books online or on your mobile phone as well. Which one is the right one for you, depends on rather you want to read on an e-ink screen or an LCD screen. E-Ink based readers, like the kindle, are often much better on battery life lasting up to a month without requiring a charge. LCD based readers are usually much worse on battery life, but they usually have many other option such as the ability to browse the web and listen to music. So, if you want a cheap, long lasting, simple reader, you can’t go wrong with the Amazon Kindle. If you want something with a bit more power and color, go for the Nook Color. If you want a device that is capable of doing anything you need, and you have some money to spend, you might consider the Apple iPad instead.
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May 4, 2011

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