Recent research from The Boston Consulting Group revealed that of consumers who currently use the Internet and read print books, magazines or newspapers, 40 percent plan to buy either an eReader or tablet within the next three years. If this research is accurate, eReaders and tablets will quickly join the ranks of other mainstream electronics such as TVs, mobile phones and personal computers in our lives.
So what is an eReader?
An eReader, also called an e-book reader or an e-book device, is an electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital books and periodicals and uses E Ink (a type of electronic paper) technology to display content to readers. The main advantages of these devices are portability, readability of their screens in bright sunlight and long battery life. They also make it easy to take notes, save clippings of quotations and highlight passages you want to be able to find again. They're good for the environment too.
If you're in the market for an eReader, there are several factors to consider before making a purchase, such as the features it offers, the amount of content available for the device and how many different types of books it can support, the price over the feature set and the tech support you can expect.
A popular option on the market is the Apple iPad. From $499 to $699, the iPad is a multipurpose tablet computer that includes e-book capabilities. Whereas dedicated eReaders have a single, integrated e-book application, the iPad has several apps available - Apple's iBooks, an Amazon Kindle app, Kobo and one from Barnes & Noble.
But if you're looking for a device dedicated primarily to reading e-books and at a lower price point, consider these recommendations from Consumer Reports.
5" or Smaller screen size: Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS300RC. At $149, the Reader Pocket Edition features an elegant, lightweight design that's easy to slip into a purse or jacket pocket for convenient, on-the-go reading. Its 512MB of onboard memory lets you carry up to 350 of your favorite books at a time and enjoy up to two full weeks of reading on a single battery charge. You can access books at Sony's eBookstore, check out books from public libraries and access more than 500,000 free public domain titles from Google.
6" screen size: Amazon Kindle 2. At $199, the Kindle can wirelessly download content in less than 60 seconds over Amazon's Whispernet data-network. The Kindle hardware device is used without a computer connection, and Amazon Whispernet is accessible without any monthly fee or wireless subscription. The Kindle provides free access to the Internet in the U.S. over cellular networks and its 3G wireless capability allows users to enjoy coverage at home or abroad in more than 100 countries. The device holds up to 1,500 books and can be read for up to one week on a single charge while using wireless. With the experimental Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read newspapers, magazines, blogs and books out loud to you.
9.7" screen size: Amazon Kindle DX. At $489, the Kindle DX offers a much larger screen size than the Kindle 2 and allows you to switch from portrait to landscape mode by just turning the device. It can access a large library of tens of thousands of e-books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs via Amazon's online store. Similar to the Kindle 2, the DX wirelessly downloads content via its built-in free Whispernet data network-no PC required. The DX also boasts a built-in keyboard for notes, faster processor speeds, and with 4GB of internal memory, it's capable of storing 3,500 electronic books.
We all know books expand horizons. With one device that can hold hundreds of books and give you access to them your fingertips, eReaders take reading to a whole new level.