So what is the best ebook reader?
The number ebook readers out there has become just a little daunting, and since ebook readers are always a great gift for the bibliophile in your life, we’ve taken the time to sort through some of the more popular ones out there.
Here’s a list:
Amazon’s Kindle device is nearly synonymous with ebook readers, and it’s not hard to understand why. The devices are intuitive and sleek, and come with the support of Amazon’s sizable clout as an online book retailer.
Even so, picking the right Kindle can be a challenge as Amazon has launched a number of different models. There’s the regular Kindle that can hold about 1,400 books and uses a 5-way controller pad to navigate the device’s interface. It costs $79 if you purchase the version that comes with ads, and $109 if you go without ads. This is the Kindle for the non-tech-savvy among us.
But maybe you would like something a little more high-tech? If so, there’s the Kindle Touch (at right). It drops the 5-way controller pad and you turn pages, select books, and make annotations using the device’s touchscreen and virtual keyboard. It’s also a good choice if you prefer to listen to your books as the Kindle touch offers audiobook support as well. This Kindle will cost you $99 with ads, $139 without ads and holds around 3,500 books.
Amazon also offers a Kindle Keyboard for $139. This Kindle comes with an actual keyboard built onto the device for navigation and annotating, making it ideal for those who may not care for touchscreen technology. It will also keep around 3,500 books.
The Nook is supported and sold by Barnes & Noble, the largest remaining big bricks-and-mortar chain book store. One of the upsides to the Nook devices is the availability of in-store support. This means, in theory, quicker fixes if your Nook starts malfunctioning. Likewise, the Nook online store is the Barnes & Noble online store, making shopping a breeze.
As with the Kindle, there are a couple of different options when selecting a Nook. First there’s the “basic” model, the Nook Simple Touch. It’s $99 (no ads), uses a touchscreen to navigate the device and can hold up to 1,000 books. It does have a microSD slot built-in for extra storage needs, up to 32GB.
The second model is the Nook Color (at right), priced at $199. As its name implies, unlike Nook Simple Touch, or the abovementioned Kindles, the Nook Color features a full-color screen instead of shades of gray. The Nook Color also ventures a bit beyond the books (up to 5,000), newspapers and magazines offered by other readers by offering apps like Angry Birds, email access and will soon offer support for streaming movies and television shows through Hulu and Netflix.
Popularized by, but not produced by, the now defunct Borders book stores, Kobo offers three different ereaders and the devices are supported by Kobo’s own online book store.
First up is the Kobo Wi Fi. At $99, the device stores over 1,000 books (with an SD expansion slot built-in), and sports a directional pad similar to the Kindle. You can also pick up the device with one of three colored backs: black, silver or lilac.
Then there’s the Kobo Touch (at right), which sports similar specs to the other touchscreen ereaders listed above. An on-screen keyboard and touchscreen technology to navigate the more than 1,000 books the device can hold. The device also features Reading Life, a badge-centric reading stats program that tracks various items like pages turned and words read, and then awards badges for various achievements, including reading over 10,000 pages or staying up too late while reading.
This Kobo comes with two price sets. It’s $99 for ads and is only available in black. If you step up to the version without ads, the device sells for $129, and comes in black, silver, lilac or blue. The back of the Kobo Touch is also quilted for softer handling and gentleness.
Finally there’s the Kobo Vox that, like the Nook Color, moves the Kobo a little bit away from the ereader mold with a full-color screen, Android app support and deeper social media integration with Reading Life. Like the Kobo Touch, the Vox features a quilted back and various colors, this time around the edge of the device. You can get a Vox in Ice Blue, Jet Black, Hot Pink or Lime Green. It sells for $199.
Sony’s Reader device has actually been on the market in various forms since 2006, a full year before the Kindle arrived, but you wouldn’t know it from the device’s general lack of popularity. Sony has its own ebook store from which customers can purchase books.
Unlike its competitors, there is only one version of the Reader on the market, the Reader Wi-Fi. The Reader is available in white, black or red and uses a touchscreen interface for reading and other navigational needs. The Reader stores up 1,200 books, offers audio book playback and includes a stylus for annotating if the virtual keyboard doesn’t cut it. It retails for $149.
Got thoughts on which is the best ebook reader? Leave us a note in the comments below.
Photos: Wesley Fryer/Flickr; Kobo; Sony