4 Questions to Answer Before Shopping for an E-Reader

shop-791582_960_720What Kind of Screen and E-Ink Do You Want?

Several years ago it was pretty easy to shop for your first e-reader, because the only one available was the Amazon Kindle, which came in only one model or version. Now there are literally dozens of e-reader device to choose from, which can make it harder to know where to begin. But you can simplify your shopping by asking four fundamental questions.

What is Your Budget?

The budget is the first thing to identify, and there are excellent e-readers on the market today that range in price from around $50 to $250, brand new. That’s a huge spread, so figure out what you want to spend and that will help you to eliminate the irrelevant products that are outside of your price range. You can also buy pre-owned and refurbished e-readers, at a deep discount. But when shopping for a used or repaired device there is always the risk that it won’t function as well, or as long, as intended. Only purchase from trusted sellers, and pay close attention to exactly what is included in the sale. The device may be missing a power cord, for instance, that you’ll have to buy separately. Or it could include a protective cover or other accessories that add value.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that may be true. But you should judge an e-reader by its screen, which is the most important feature for most consumers. That’s because you will be looking at it all the time, and the better the screen quality, the easier it will be on your eyes as you read. Screen quality involves two main characteristics – how the screen is illuminated and how the words on the page appear, which is also referred to as screen resolution. When resolution is high, words are crisp and clear; whereas low-resolution results in a less sharp and distinct image of words on the screen (or graphics, if the book you are reading has pictures or other kinds of images).

Any “e-paper” will be comfortable on your eyes, and the text will look almost indistinguishable from the print in a high-quality printed physical book. E-paper eliminates glare, too. The best way to test the screen, however, is to view it in person. There is no substitute for the actual experience of reading from a particular e-reader Try to visit a store and look at a display model for the best answer to this important question. By the way, if you intend to read e-books and magazine and other materials in color, be sure you shop for e-readers that can display full color. Many readers don’t opt for color because they are reading books such as novels, that have always been traditionally published in black ink on a white or parchment-toned paper. But those who want colorful reading material – like children, for instance – will want to shop for a device that delivers vivid, realistic color.

How Important is Portability?

Of course one of the most compelling reasons to buy an e-reader is that these devices –which are about the size of a single traditional book – allow you to carry a whole library with you, wherever you go. Do you plan to travel with yours far and wide? Or are you more likely to just move it from the kitchen table to the couch, to curl up and read without leaving home? Ask yourself how important portability is, and that will help you narrow down your selections even more. There are some models that weight a pound and fit comfortably in a backpack. Others weigh just a few ounces and can fit in a coat pocket. Depending upon how much size and weight you want to take with you when you go, you can choose the right e-reader that will be an ideal travel companion.

Do You Want to Multitask with Your E-Reader?

Last but most definitely not least, ask yourself if you want to simply use the device for reading, or do you want to do other activities that involve Wi-Fi connectivity. Many of today’s e-readers can also multitask, functioning like tablet computers that enable you to email, surf the Web, watch TV or movies, and more. If that appeals to you, look at the specifications and descriptions of e-readers to find out what multi-purpose functions they offer. Keep in mind that these activities may shorten the battery life and time between charges – so also review the battery data when making this kind of decision.


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