Who thought that reading could be this much fun? Yes, this activity is still timeless, but e-readers (tablet-like devices used for reading electronic versions of books and periodicals) are taking the personal technology world by storm. Many e-readers have been put up for sale, but four companies have emerged to dominate this field. Keep reading to find out who comes out on top! – Colby Bermel, Monitor contributor
1. Amazon’s Kindle
The e-reader craze began when online shopping giant Amazon.com released its first-generation e-reader, the Kindle, in late 2007. About as thin as a pencil, the lightweight and slim device utilizes a special “e-ink” to prevent glare, which makes it easy to read outside in the sun. Although it had to add Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity to keep up with the market, the Kindle separates itself from competitors with its super-long battery life: one to two months from just a single charge.
The Amazon Kindle starts at $139.
2. Apple’s iPad
Although this device has always had e-reading capabilities, Apple officially came off the bench and into the game by including the “iBooks” application pre-programmed with its iPad 2, released this past March. And, the release of iOS 5 (Apple’s mobile operating system) in the fall will also incorporate a “Newsstand” app, which will automatically update the online versions of your newspaper and magazine subscriptions on your device whenever a new issue is published. Many periodicals like Popular Science have received praise for taking advantage of the iPad’s multi-touch capabilities to enhance the reading experience; however, Apple still hasn’t been able to dodge criticisms of heavy glare when reading in the sun.
The Apple iPad starts at $499.
3. Barnes & Noble’s Nook
The country’s biggest book retailer went up against Amazon and Apple by releasing the Nook e-reader in late 2009. The Nook sports many of the same specs and features as the Kindle and the iPad, but Barnes & Noble touts the fact that you can electronically “check out” any book from your local library if their online bookstore of two million titles doesn’t satisfy. Although the Nook combines the best of both worlds by incorporating e-ink (Amazon) and apps (Apple) in the same device, Barnes & Nobles’ e-reader hasn’t been able to gather as strong a following as some of its other competitors.
The Barnes & Noble Nook starts at $139.
4. Kobo’s eReader
The youngest sibling in the family, Kobo’s eReader said hello to the world with its May 2010 release. Relatively unknown in the personal technology market, the eReader was originally appealing because of its relatively low price, intentionally targeting the higher price of Amazon’s Kindle. The only feature that distinguishes Kobo’s product from the rest of the market is the ability to earn badges (very, very similar to Foursquare) in reward for challenges like reading 10,000 total pages or reading every day for two weeks. Unfortunately, if the eReader was at the Olympics, it wouldn’t bring home any hardware, as its other three competitors (Kindle, iPad, Nook) would be getting medals on the podium.
The Kobo eReader starts at $129.
There are two clear winners in the battle of e-readers. If you love using apps and interacting in unique ways with your book or periodical, look no further than Apple’s iPad 2. However, if you are a hardcore reader that doesn’t want to deal with any bells and whistles, then the Amazon Kindle is the right choice for you. Happy e-reading!