For those who think Amazon invented the e-reader, think again. While the world's biggest and most well-known e-tailer put e-readers and e-reading "on the map," it was actually Sony and brick-and-mortar bookseller Barnes & Noble that were first out of the gate in pushing e-reading out to book lovers.
A year later, though, Amazon stormed the industry with its Kindle and as the saying goes, history was made. Sony's devices, while innovative, were hard to use even for those with some digital device experience and they eventually pretty much flamed out. Nonetheless, B&N is hanging in with Sony-related devices, such as its Nook Glowlight. In the past few years, the market has welcomed some new players, including Kobo and its Aura H2O reader.
For those eyeing an e-reader for the upcoming spring break and beach reading or looking to upgrade that several-year-old e-reader, Tech Times offers up a peek at the latest e-reader device news.
If you have never bought an e-reader, thinking it too pricey, Amazon truly resolves that dilemma this month. In fact, at this point, the basic Kindle is something everyone can likely afford. In honor of National Reading Month, its basic Kindle e-reader is now just under $60, which is an amazing deal given the Kindle initially hit the markets at three-to-four times that cost. That's not to say options in the Kindle line aren't still a few hundred bucks. Its latest device, the Kindle Voyage, is running just a bit over $200 at this point, but the functionality compared to the earlier e-reader options is amazing with new page turning features, an adaptive front light, and the highest screen resolution yet. What that means is ease of use and a more enjoyable reading experience no matter what the lighting. It's also the thinnest Kindle with a battery that lasts weeks. Purchase provides the option to try Amazon's new "Kindle Unlimited" plan for free, which puts nearly one million titles within reach for a trial one-month period. One report tags the Kindle Voyage as "the new gold standard" in reading.
Kobo Aura H2O
If you've never heard of the Kobo e-reader brand, don't despair. It's been a bit of a dark horse in the e-reader segment but warrants attention and has earned some hefty respect as it continues to innovate and refuses to cower to the Kindle. As the latest device name reveals the e-reader can be used in water scenarios, not literally underwater reading, but withstands water interaction. It's a bit lighter than earlier Aura e-reader options but a bit heavier than the Kindle. Waterproofing is a big feature -- reading by the pool or in a tub or getting caught in a quick tropical downpour isn't a worry with the Aura H2O. It can be completely submerged in five meters of water for an hour.
"Water can cause unexpected behavior. If there's any on your screen, please give it a quick dry. Shaking it off works too," states Kobo in describing the waterproof nature. But be prepared to pay the price for such a unique feature-about $180.00. Another review notes it is the e-reader maker's most "complete" device it has made to date.
Barnes & Noble Nook Glowlight
If you thought Barnes & Noble was out of the e-reader game, think again. They're just never going to be the brand leader. That doesn't mean its devices aren't worth checking out. Its Glowlight, now about two years old, received some very good reviews on arrival from leading tech pubs, being described as excellent, adored for its light heft (lighter than Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite) and Kindle-like automated lighting adjustments. The text is crisp, it boasts a slim design and its 3 million available book library isn't something to dismiss. It claims to run for eight weeks without a charge and you get device support at brick-and-mortar B&N locations, which is something Amazon doesn't provide. Yet it's still priced over $100, which may make it a potential "second generation" device for those just tapping the e-reader experience. Amazon's top-tier Kindles start about this price point. A key Nook feature that set it apart from Amazon's Kindle, a microSD slot, has been eliminated in Glowlight and that hasn't gone over well with reviewers.
When it comes to choosing an e-reader, the best approach is to get your hands on as many devices as you can and determine what features and functionalities are most important.
If you're an avid Amazon fan who enjoys the various services the e-tailer offers, the Kindle is likely your best option as there are a wide range of devices at various prices. It is also easy to return and Amazon continuously offers discounts and free pilots for Kindle Unlimited. It's also a great starting device for those just getting into e-reading given this month's offer.
For those who love trolling B&N and have been a Nook fan from the very start, the latest Nook may be the best choice due to in-store assistance. The Kobo is obviously best suited for those adventurers who take the e-reader on the week-long kayak trip or spend a great deal of time around a pool.