When it comes to buying an electronic reading device (also called an e-reader), the average consumer has more choices than ever before. If you have not yet heard of e-readers, they are simply hand held devices that allow you to read digital books, or e-books. These are books that are downloaded electronically and sent right to the electronic reader.
As of right now, the two main manufacturers of electronic reading devices are Sony and Amazon. Does this mean one is better than the other? Not necessarily. Before you can answer that question you need to consider each of the following features that are important to you.
1. Wireless connectivity. The ability to download new book titles from everywhere is a convenient feature. Be sure to check if there are any additional airtime charges, or if you will have to sign any kind of an agreement to use the wireless for downloading. For example, the Amazon Kindle comes with Whispernet, which is part of the Sprint network. There is no need to sign any contract, and it is integrated directly into the unit.
2. Display. Because you will be reading entire books on the unit, it’s vital that they are easy on the eyes. Older e-readers were quite harsh and caused fatigue rather quickly. That has changed with newer units. E-Ink technology is much better at replicating the experience of reading a book printed on paper. The other thing to consider is the size of the viewing screen. In general, the bigger, the better, but most units allow you to change the font size, so this may not be a make-or-break issue.
3. Memory. Regardless of which electronic reading device you choose, it will have a certain amount of internal memory. The more memory it has, the more titles it will be able to hold. Some models allow you to add external memory for additional storage if it’s needed. However, the main consideration is how many titles it can hold (whether it offers external storage or not). E-readers can store from about 100 titles to 3,500 titles.
4. Title availability. Of course, how many titles any specific model can hold doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a lot of titles to choose from. The good news is that the number of available titles is going up. In most cases you will have to get your e-books directly from the website associated with your reading device. As of now, Amazon.com offers over 600,000 titles for the Kindle, including books, blogs and magazines.
5. Cost. This is at the end of the list for a reason, and that’s because cost shouldn’t be the most important factor when buying an electronic reading device. First, check over all of the features, then compare units that have the features you need. It is better to pay a bit more to get your must-have features, then it is to pay less for a unit you won’t really use.