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How to Choose an E-Reader

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Consider these features and options before you buy

While some people prefer the feel of a traditional book in their hands, e-readers are an increasingly popular way to purchase, store and read everything from magazines to favorite novels and cookbooks. If you're in the market for an e-reader, consider cost, size, readability, functionality and services to find one that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Cost

Prices vary widely among e-readers and generally increase with the number of options available. The smaller black-and-white versions of the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook start as low as $69. The larger, color versions can cost as much as $399. The $79 Nook Simple Touch is one example of an affordable e-reader with basic but desirable options such as long battery life, crisp and readable text, and the ability to download library books.

Size

Size is another feature that varies among e-reader brands. The appeal of smaller readers is that they're lighter and easier to carry around. Larger readers may be bulkier but easier to read, particularly for older people. The smallest Kindle has a six-inch display, while the largest (the Kindle Fire) features an 8.9-inch display. In addition, the smallest Kindle weighs only six ounces.

Readability

The differences in screen quality impact price. Less expensive e-readers feature an “electronic ink screen,” while the higher-end devices are designed with HD screens, much like modern TVs or tablet computers. Before you buy, you may want to try reading a screen for a fixed amount of time before making a decision. If you're the type who can get absorbed in a book for hours at a time, screen readability should be high on your list of options.

Functionality

The touch screen has become standard on tablets and smart phones and is an available option on some e-readers. It's a nice-to-have feature, but probably not necessary if all you're looking for is a simple e-reader. Another functionality issue to consider is battery life, which may be important to you if you use your device on a regular basis or like to keep the display as bright as possible.

Services

When shopping for an e-reader, think about how you're going to use it. Are you planning to download books and magazines only, or do you also want to watch videos, surf the Internet and more? You'll need to keep all of this in mind when shopping for a device and the service plan that goes with it.

The e-reader is changing the way people enjoy books, magazines and other media content. Before you buy, do your homework. Search the web for reviews and to compare prices and features to find the best device for you.

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