eReader and Tablet Buying Guide (Part 2)

(Back to Part 1)

3.    Operating System

Similar to computers most of us have at home, the ereaders and tablets are also run on an operating system (OS) of sort. The most popular OS for tablets are Android and iOS.

nook-tabletAndroid is a Linux-based operating system for mobile devices developed by open source led by Google and other companies. Tablets with Android OS are Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet and Sony Tablet, just to name a few. 

iOS is another mobile device OS developed and distributed by Apple. iOS is an exclusive OS that supports Apple devices such as iPad and Apple TV.

All the technical jargons aside, what’s important to you is:

  • Does the user interface run smoothly when you are using your ereader or tablet?
  • Are the graphics and videos served up quickly?
  • Are the web pages loaded up swiftly when you are surfing on the web?

4.     User Interface

When Amazon first introduced Kindle to the market, the interface was a joystick.  Nowadays, most of the ereaders use touchscreen interface with minimal buttons on the device. Typically, there is a power on and off button, a home button as a default screen, volume rocker to adjust the volume up or down, and a jack for earphone.

Each brand of ereaders has a different way of displaying and managing content.  You may want to read the User Manual or search on YouTube to see some demos of the interface of your favorite brand. 

In the case of Apple’s iPad and Barnes and Noble’s Nook, you may be able to drop by a retail store to “test drive” the device in person.  Most often, you will find very knowledgeable store Assistant to show you how the digital reader works.

5.     File Format

This is perhaps the most confusing aspect for people to understand, including myself.  File format is simply referred to the format a writer or a publisher chooses to create and publish digital content. For an average end-user, he or she is only interested in reading or consuming digital content on a particular device.

There is a myriad of ebook formats and not all formats are created equal.  Some are more popular than others.  The EPUB format is the most supported ebook format.  It is a XML (Extensive Markup Language) based e-book format vs. PDF (Portable Document Format) ebook format.  Other ebook formats include Mobipocket (MOBI in short), HTML, Multimedia eBook, etc.

Both Amazon and Sony all have their proprietary ebook formats.  However, they all support the most common formats such as PDF, MOBI, Doc (Document), TXT (text).  So make sure you check into the file format during your research.

6.     Access to Content

This used to be a challenging aspect when choosing an ebook reader or a tablet.  In the past, if you choose to buy an Amazon Kindle, you would have to stick with getting content from Amazon.  In another words, the content cannot be consumed across different devices. Technology has evolved so much in just a few short years.

Apps for Cross-Device Reading

Thanks to the “infinite” applications (apps), now you can easily own an iPad, but read ebooks purchased from Amazon.  The same goes with consuming content bought from Barnes and Nobel on your Amazon Kindle.

Like the top brands of ereaders, the major content providers are Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony and Apple.  All carry millions of titles in books, newspapers, magazines, movies, TV shows, music and games.

You Are in the Driver Seat to Choose

It would be a personal preference where you’d like to shop for content and how user-friendly the shopping process is.  Personally, I buy most of my digital content from Amazon only because I am familiar with the shopping process and enjoy the shopping experience.

Free Content Everywhere

Besides the paid content, there are so many free ebooks out there if you just look.  Simply google “free ebooks”, you will get a long list of resource sites. 

In fact, both Amazon and B & N offer you free ebooks.  For example, if you sign up with Amazon Prime membership ($79/year after a free month trial) and own a Kindle, you can borrow a book for free each month and have access to tons of free movies, shows, etc.  In addition, you can buy a lot of items on Amazon and enjoy free two-day shipping with the same membership.

In Barnes and Noble, you can read for an hour each day in the store if you spend time in the store.

Don’t forget that you can borrow many ebooks from your local library.  The icing on the cake is that you don’t have to remember to return your books anymore as your access to the digital book will automatically expire on the due date.

eBooks Are Easier on Your Wallet

Another huge saving is that the cost of ebooks is much cheaper than a hardcopy. You can save lots of money over a long run. Not to mention the time you spend driving to a bookstore and shopping around there.

Sharing/Lending Content

Sharing and lending content to others are permissible for some readers/tablets such as Amazon Kindles and B & N’s Nooks. Make sure you read the fine print on how often you may share or lend your content, to whom, and for how long.

(Go to Part 3)