eReader and Tablet Buying Guide (Part 3)

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7.     Memory and Storage

In the context of ereaders and tablets, the storage means the internal memory on the device for you to store digital content, similar to a physical file cabinet.  For example, Amazon Kindle Touch has an internal memory of 4 GB (gigabits).  It can store up to 3,000 books.  The storage for each brand and model varies from 2 GB up to 64 GB such as iPad.

If you mainly use the ereader for ereading purpose and don’t need to store a boatload of movies, shows and music, then 4 to 8 GB is more than enough to load up a few thousand books.

On the other hand, if you are into watching movies/videos/TV shows and game playing and store some of the content on your device, you may want to choose a model with more storage space.  Even so, a 16 to 32 GB model should be sufficient for average folks.  Remember, the more storage space the device has, the more money it costs you. For instance, if you decide to buy the new iPad with 16GB and free Wi-Fi, you would pay $499; 32GB for $599, 64GB for $699.  On top of that, you will be paying more for the 4G option.

Some manufacturers such as Barnes and Noble and Sony also offer the option to expand the on-device memory up to 32 GB via a SD (Secure Digital) memory card slot.  You will have buy a SD card that may cost anywhere between $10 to $30 depending on the memory and insert the card into the ereader or tablet slot.

Even though Amazon Kindles don’t have the expandable feature on the device, Amazon allows you to store unlimited content for free in the Amazon Cloud, which is a virtual storage area.  The only caveat is that the content has to be purchased through Amazon.

8.     Battery Life

The life of the battery in an ereader is very lengthy up to 2 months with one charge with Wi-Fi off.  The length is based on a 30-minute reading a day for Kindles.  Obviously if you read longer, the battery life will be shortened.

On the contrast, the battery life for a tablet is much shorter up to 10 hours on an average because it takes so much processing power to run the application files and to display colors and rich-media content such as graphics and videos.

What I do is to plug the iPad in to charge each night.  It will be ready for the next day.  In fact, you don’t need to charge it every night.

9.     Wireless Connectivity

Since an ereader or a tablet is a mobile device, it is crucial to be connected to either a wireless hotspot (via Wi-Fi) or a data network (3 or 4 G).  All of the ereaders and tablets are equipped with free Wi-Fi connectivity and only some of the brands and models have the 3 or 4 G option (for free or paid).

Having the option to connect via 3 or 4 G is definitely a big plus as you don’t have to hunt down a hotspot when you are on the road or travel abroad.  The downside is that you’d have to pay more for the option in the device and sometimes pay a monthly fee for the data network.

Also the 3 or 4 G networks are only in select countries.  You may want to look into the data network coverage overseas to make sure you can enjoy the benefit after paying extra for the option.

10.     Web Browsing

The newer and more expensive models of ereaders and tablets are capable for web surfing.  You can also process your emails and keep your contact list at your finger tip on your ereader/or tablet.  The speed and ease of surfing differ somewhat from one device to another.  Overall, the experience is pleasant and the web page and images are served up within a few seconds.

If you plan on surfing on the Internet for longer periods of time, it’s still better off to do so on your computer screen.

11.     Other Features

Features for Studentsipad-for-students

There are additional features that might be important to some people.  For instance, some ereaders or tablets are built in with highlighting, annotation, and dictionary, much the same as when you are reading a hard copy.  The difference is that when ereading, you don’t have to grab a Webster Dictionary to find out what “copasetic” (completely satisfactory) means.

Text to Speech

A few e readers and tablets have “Text to Speech” feature.  If you are driving across the country, you can set your device to “Read to Me” setting, similar to listen to an audio book.  The difference is that the voice in the ereader or tablet is computer-generated monotone vs. a professional read audio book.  As much as I listen to many audio books, I would not use the Text to Speech feature that often.

Translation

There are a few brands and models with the capability of translating from English to Spanish, Japanese, etc.  Amazon Kindle Touch 3G is one of them. This will becomes handy if you are traveling in Barcelona, Spain, but don’t speak a word of Spanish.

Voice Dictation

The only one I know is iPad 3 or the new iPad released on March 16, 2012.  It leverages the functionality of Siri, a voice recognition software on iPhone 4S. If you are tired of typing up a long email to a client or a friend, you may speak to your iPad 3.  The tablet will dictate what you said.  You may want to proof-read it afterwards to make sure everything is accurate.

Audio

Most of the ereaders/tablets have an audio microphone jack for you to listen either through an earphone or a speaker.  The quality of sound is not to be compared to your Bose audio system. Nonetheless, it serves the basic purpose.

Camera/Video

A few tablets such as Apple’s iPad 2 and 3 have cameras built into the device for video-chatting (FaceTime) and for still-image taking. The resolution of the cameras is not the best.  Also it’s awkward to use your iPad to tape a video clip or take pictures.  iPhone or a real digital camera will do a much better job.

(Go to Part 4)