Tablet or e-reader?
That’s why I have a Nexus 7 for everyday reading, saving my old Kindle 4 for holidays in the sun. And given how inexpensive both e-readers and tablets are, having two devices is not an extravagance. Of the three 7in tablets mentioned above, the specs and prices are comparable, though the Nook HD has the higher resolution: 900 x 1440 to the Nexus’ and Fire HD’s 800 x 1280. The Nook HD also has a slot for Micro SD storage expansion but the quid pro quo is less on-board storage. The Fire HD and Nexus have no such slot, though the Amazon device does have a mini HDMI connector, handy if you expect to use it to show videos on a TV.
It’s this kind of functionality that separates the tablet from the traditional e-reader. Tablets have colour screens that are capable of video playback; e-ink screens are monochrome and refresh their images too slowly for movies - even ones that say they can hack it as video players. There’s no reason e-readers can’t do music mind, and many did in the early days, but that’s a feature that has now largely been lost as the devices are more tightly focused on book reading.
Amazon uses the Kindle Paperwhite's screen illumination to increase the E Ink screen's contrast ratio - but not as much as this PR shot suggests
That’s why they have lower storage capacities than tablets, though e-books take up such little space that even a 2GB device - which will typically have around 1GB for books - is plenty for a large library of unread volumes. Some e-readers, such as the Sony Reader PRS-T2, have Micro SD memory card slots to allow you to up the capacity to 32GB - limiting if you want to put music and movies on there too, but sufficient for even the greediest of bibliophile.
E-readers are lighter and thinner than tablets and, I’d say, more resilient. LCD screens are a lot more likely to break when dropped than are e-ink panels. Then there’s the user experience. Traditional e-readers and generic tablets like the Nexus 7 don’t feel like handheld shopfronts the way that the tablets from Amazon and Barnes & Noble do. I like the Nook HD very much, but I don’t want my tablet or e-reader to be a shop window for the supplier’s products and services.
While the Nook HD at least supports the closest thing there is to an e-book copy-protection standard - as does Barnes & Noble’s other kit, and devices from Sony, Kobo and Bookeen - Amazon uses its own. Books bought from the Kindle store can only be read on Kindles and Kindle apps on smartphones, computers and tablets. For some book lovers, the wide availability of apps makes DRM a non-issue; for others, not being able to make copies for back-up, and the fact that you don’t actually own e-books, you only rent them is a big deal.
Apple's iPad Mini: not pocket friendly and equipped with a non-retina screen
There’s a third DRM technology out there: Apple’s FairPlay. It’s incompatible with the others so, again, books bought from the iTunes iBooks shop can only be read on Apple devices. Unlike Amazon, Apple doesn’t provide iBooks apps for other platforms. This lock-in is one reason why the Apple iPad Mini is less attractive as an e-reader than rival small tablets but, for me, a bigger problem is its lower resolution (768 x 1024) screen which doesn’t render text as smoothly or as paper-page like as the others.
Like the Nexus 7, the Acer Iconia A110 and, to a slightly lesser extent the Fire HD and Nook HD, the iPad Mini is a generic computing device so its functionality can be expanded with apps. Of course, if you’re only interested in using the device to read books, that might seem less of an advantage but it does mean you can pick and choose which book viewer apps you use. I can buy and read, say, Kindle books right on my Nexus 7, and content from other online bookshops, but that’s not possible with the Amazon or Barnes & Noble products, though the latter will accept copies transferred to it by USB cable.
2012's top e-book readers: the best...
Google Nexus 7
Reg Rating 85%
Reg Rating 85%
Barnes & Noble Nook
Reg Rating 85%
...and the rest
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Apple iPad Mini
Acer Iconia A110
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Craziest score there: iPad Mini vs Kindle Paperwhite
Battery life: Kindle massively wins
Cross-device book portability: Kindle wins
PPI: Kindle wins (212 vs 162)
Weight: Kindle wins (213g vs 308g)
Price: Kindle wins
Reading in daylight: Kindle wins
Reading at night: Draw
Free 3G: Kindle wins (for the 3G version)
And yet they're rated the same? Are you joking, El Reg? Probably on all of those useful eBook reader properties every device here beats the iPad Mini. Stop inflating iPad scores all the time.
And yes, blah blah general-purpose, other apps, whatever. The review is for eBook readers. Obviously the Mini beats these readers at other tasks.
Re: Thumbs up for Nexus 7
Don't entirely agree with you.
My Kobo lives in my inside coat pocket, which means I always have it with me. (The Kindle 4 is exactly the same size, so works as well).
The Nexus 7 is too heavy to carry in a coat pocket, and imho still a bit too heavy to use regularly as an e-reader.
With the Kobo/Kindle, I only have to charge it twice a MONTH. Rather better than every other day.
But as mentioned in the article - they are now cheap enough to have BOTH, and make your own mind up.
That's the e-ink device appeal for me, I've got both an iPad and a Kindle (recently upgraded from the original to a backlit one). You can argue to your hearts content whether an e-ink reader is easier to read than a tablet but the killer feature for me is that I can sit down on a plane, pull my Kindle out that I've not touched for 2-3 weeks and not charged for months, and the battery will still be at 80%.
Re: Bedtime reading...?
Broadly speaking blue light wakes you up, red light makes you sleepy.
Doh! That explains it!
Now I understand why I was struggling not to fall asleep, 'afterwards', in the brothel, but was suddenly wide awake when I'd been carted off to the police station...
It was more like "they're all worth considering", but which one is right for you will depend on your individual needs".
Which seems fair.