Anyone looking to buy an ebook reader is probably overwhelmed by the options out there. You want to make the right choice, and you want to get the most for your money, but how do decide which model is the best? In an earlier article, Features to Look For in an eBook Reader, I described the features and specifications you might find in an ebook reading device. In this article, I compare four major brands of ereaders with regard to those features, laid out in table format below.
As you will see, each reader has a different mix of all the possible features, and no reader has them all. For example, the Kobo eReader is a basic model without bells and whistles, but Kobo is the only major ebookstore that sells to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the U.S. and U.K. Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook both offer WiFi and free 3G options, along with snazzy features like built-in MP3 players and some limited book sharing abilities, but only the Kindle has text-to-speech capability. On the other hand, the NookColor can show children's books, magazines, and illustrated manuals in 16 million vibrant colors, while Sony is the only vendor whose product allows free-hand stylus input for easy note-taking.
Do you see where I'm going with this? There is no "best ebook reader". It's all about you, the buyer, and what's important for your needs. If you haven't reviewed the feature list in the previous article, go back and do that first, then study the table below to see which model will best meets those needs.
Features to Look For in an eBook Reader
|Feature||Amazon Kindle||Barnes & Noble Nook||Kobo Reader||Sony Reader|
|Models||Kindle WiFi, Kindle WiFi/3G, Kindle DX||Nook WiFi, Nook WiFi/3G, NookColor||Kobo Wireless eReader||Pocket Edition, Touch Edition, Daily Edition|
|Formats Supported||AZW (Amazon proprietary format) + PDF + Mobi + TXT||ePub + PDF + PDB + Adobe DRM + Microsoft Office Docs (NookColor only)||ePub + PDF + Adobe DRM||ePub + PDF + TXT + RTF|
|Countries Supported||US, UK||US||US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand||US|
|Other compatible devices||PC & Mac + iPhone & iPad + Blackberry + Android + Smartphones||PC & Mac + iPhone & iPad + Blackberry + Android + Smartphones + HTC||PC & Mac + iPhone & iPad + Blackberry + Android + Smartphones||PC & Mac|
|Screen Type||Grayscale eInk||Grayscale eInk, Grayscale eInk, Backlit Full Color||Grayscale eInk||Grayscale eInk|
|Screen Size (diagonal)||6", 6", 9.7"||6", 6", 7"||6"||5", 6", 7"|
|Dimensions||7.5"x4.8"x0.3", 7.5"x4.8"x0.3", 10.4"x7.2"x0.4"||7.7"x4.9"x0.5", 7.7"x4.9"x0.5", 8.1"x5.0"x0.5"||7.2"x4.7"x0.4"||5.7"x4.1"x0.3", 6.6"x4.7"x0.4", 7.9"x5.0"x0.4"|
|Weight||8.5 oz, 8.7 oz, 18.9 oz||11.6 oz, 12.1 oz, 15.8 oz||7.8 oz||5.5 oz, 7.6 oz, 9.6 oz|
|Human Interface||QWERTY keyboard + nav buttons||3.5" Touch Nav Area (Nook), Full Screen Touch (NookColor)||Nav buttons only||Touchscreen + Stylus|
|Connectivity||USB/WiFi, USB/WiFi/3G, USB/3G||USB/WiFi, USB/WiFi/3G, USB/WiFi||USB/WiFi||USB, USB, USB/WiFi|
|Battery Life (days, without wireless)||30, 30, 14-21||10, 10, 0.3 (8 hours)||10||14, 14, 11|
|Book Sharing with other ereader owners||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Text-to-Speech||Yes||No, No, Yes||No||No|
|Full Specs||Amazon Kindle||Barnes & Noble Nook||Kobo||Sony|