While shopping for a digital book reader, the good news is that there are plenty of choices available; but unfortunately, that is also the bad news, since one can easily get confused. So, there is a great deal of introspection, market research and opinion-taking from friends and acquaintances. Following is an in-depth analysis of all that needs to be considered while choosing between different digital book readers.

Reader or Tablet?

The first question to be asked is whether one just wants to read books, or magazines and newspapers as well? If one would like to browse the internet or not, or for that matter, listen to music, watch videos, etc.? Is Flash support a necessity?

If the answer is ‘just reading’ then any basic e-book reader will do just fine. However, if one requires more than that, then the search should be focused towards a tablet, but rest assured that it will cost a lot more than a reader. There are also certain devices that combine the functions of an e-book reader and a tablet, with options for downloading popular Apps et al.

Size of the screen and weight of the tablet

The next question is with regards to the dimensions of the tablet. Here, it is important to know that even if one does not plan to take the reader outside of home, it is still to be held in front with the hands. Hence, size and weight are important considerations. The smallest digital book readers have a 5 inch screen and weight close to 5.5 ounces; although there might be certain compromises such as lack of Wi-Fi capabilities. One may also make the mistake of comparing digital book readers with laptops, in which case the former would turn out to be extremely light-weight. However, the point here is that while a laptop is kept at a table, the digital book reader will have to be lifted and held in a position, which changes things quite a bit. Another important thing to know here is that all digital book readers allow for the user to adjust the font size, so there is no problem of readability, and even a digital book reader with a smaller screen can deliver as much clarity and ease of reading as a large one.

Screen preference: E-ink or color LCD

Dedicated digital book readers like the Nook, Kindle, etc. use the e-ink screen, but these have their share of drawbacks – the first one being that they are black and white; the second being that the pages don’t refresh as quickly as one would like; and lastly, they are not backlit, so one can’t read them in the dark. However, the benefit is that they can produce the exact effect as that of printed paper, and one can also read them in sunlight, something that can’t be done with an LCD screen. However, there are some models available with built-in lights.

The LCD screens, on the other hand, are colorful and bright. However, their Achilles heel is that the reflective screens they have on make it extremely difficult to read in bright light. Also, the backlight has the tendency to tire the eyes in case of extended reading sessions.

So, the final verdict is that if one does not have a problem sitting long hours in front of a laptop or LCD monitor (rather if one has this habit!), and likes to read in low light without an external l light source, the LCD screen is a better choice. Similar is the case when one wants to go through websites, colored magazines and different kinds of books with vivid graphics. However, if one wants to have a more authentic look and feel, i.e., newsprint, then an e-ink display is the appropriate choice.

Wireless data

Another important point to be considered while buying a digital book reader is that whether one wants to go for the Wi-Fi version or the 3G version. Sure, the Wi-Fi model will be more affordable, but requires one to be in the vicinity of a Wi-Fi hotspot, but one would have to pay separate fee for adding 3G access on a cellular wireless network. Here again, it’s a question of requirement – if one needs to only read books, the Wi-Fi only models are fine, since the internet access is only required while buying new books, which are then stored on the device, so there is no need to log on to the internet to read them again. Hence, one can buy 3-4 e-books, or more, at one go, and then go on about reading them over a course of days, weeks or months. There are many users who turn the Wi-Fi off most of the time, since that also contributes to enhancing battery life.

However, if one wants to read magazines and newspapers, or check e-mails and browse the internet, a more frequent access to the internet is required, which basically means that the 3G model would be preferred. Another option is the case of tablets, wherein one can go for even 4G data access, depending upon the model, which is indeed a tempting choice. However, a slight benefit to those considering Wi-Fi models (besides the cost factor) is that most offices and popular hangout joints offer Wi-Fi as a norm, so one would not be as isolated from the internet as it might seem.

The benefit of Apps

If one has the reading collection ‘in the cloud’, it’s extremely easy to access the books on multiple devices, even as some vendors of e-books do offer a better support across platforms compared to others. It is important to know that the same e-book stores can be available on different devices, including rival book publishers. This multi-device support is made possible thanks to apps. So, there are no restrictions per se, and one can choose a digital book reader free of these considerations.

So there your have it, a detailed guide of what all to look forward to in case of any confusion with regards to purchasing a digital book reader.