Since Apple introduced their iPad interest has intensified in mobile gadgets. eBook readers began seeing increased sales. Today just about every manufacturer has some type of tablet and/or eBook reader they want to sell the consumer. The choices are vast and can be confusing.
The difference between tablets and eBook readers is fundamentally quite simple. One is a computing device while the other is a rendering device. Tablets have the ability to run APP’s and various programs while eBook readers render books, images and music only. Tablets display video and graphics in a much different environment so full color is readily available while eBook readers are restricted to the grayscale. Another key distinction is the ability to use a stylus and touch screen which a few eBook readers have adopted.
There are similarities as well. Both tablets and eBook readers come equipped with useful tools such as speakers where headphones can be used. Wireless connectivity is a feature both the eBook readers and tablets have taken full advantage of. This allows for data streaming for the tablets and eBook and music downloads for the eBook readers.
Twelve inches has been the accepted screen size of a tablet PC. Today there are many smaller screens on tablets since there have been vast improvements in screen resolution. The eBook readers have increased their screen sizes while the tablet PC’s have decreased. Today many eBook readers and tablets have the same size screens. It appears that 7" has been the new accepted screen size for both devices.
Battery life is key for eBook readers where it is not as important for tablets. Tablets also weigh more and are warm to the touch where eBook readers are very light and you do not feel the battery while reading. I do not believe that eBook readers should be in color. Reading is so much more enjoyable when the screen looks and reads like real paper. Eye strain is just not there with the eInk technology, while reading on a backlit screen it is.
PDA’s were essentially the first eBook reader type. They displayed data in electronic format and were limited by the LCD screen. eInk technology appeared and began changing the eBook reader into what it has become today. Prices have dropped considerably since the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 bringing the eBook reader affordable for just about anyone. When eBook readers first appeared on the market, their prices were high. Today you can pick up a Kindle for $139 or less! I see the same thing happening to the tablet world. T-Mobile has their new tablet out and it sells for $599 plus $25 a month for data connection. For the ability of the tablet this price is horrible! Purchasing a tablet today just does not make financial sense to me. Many purchases the iPad are spending upwards of $800! You can buy two laptops for that price and get more functionality.
Will these two ever merge? Probably. Just like the evolution of the phone to the cell phone to the smartphone. But my hope is that I am given a choice of eInk or backlit. This is the biggest difference to me because protecting my eyes is by far more important than an electronic gadget.