Just last week, an old friend asked me a question that boiled down to which eReader I would choose if I were buying anew. To sum it up best, I coined a new poetic mantra for myself:
“When I read, it is all I want to do … no distractions, no fanfare; just me and the words”
For me, that is enough.
I wish I had the wherewithal, however, to explore all the tablet and eReader choices out there so that I could give more informed advice. That being said, I still think it boils down to a few simple questions.
Are you looking for distraction-free, marathon reading or are you looking for a multi-purpose device that you can read from as well as check social media, watch movies and TV shows, and browse the web? If you are like me, and all you want is a marathon-reading-experience, just you and the words. If so, then I have to say that the eInk eReaders are your best bet. Nook and Kindle are the industry leaders here mostly because of the weight of the bookstore behind them. Still, their DRM’ed books hold you hostage to their own line of eReaders into perpetuity. For me, that is not a deal-breaker because I take good care of my devices – even if Kindle PaperWhite were to go out of production today, I’d wager a bet that mine will still be operational 10 years from now (barring technological changes that render it a paperweight instead).
Now, if you want a multi-purpose experience, the choice there depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. In my opinion, you can get a smooth, streamlined, mostly bug-free within a “Walled Garden” with the iPad, but you are restricted by what Apple allows you to install. Still, I very rarely come across a frozen iPad or a crashing app that isn’t fixed within days. Smooth and stream-lined comes with a price. And a hefty price at that – the price-tag on the iPad line is sizeable and even though you get an experience worth the price, for most people that means going outside of their budget – considerably.
Freedom to install whatever you like also comes with a price, however. I’ve heard and read about horror stories about apps causing tablets to freeze completely, for example the Hulu app on a lot of devices is mess of bugs. Early Kindle Fire users were frustrated because the app choices were limited. You couldn’t get Hulu or Netflix without “hacking” the device. Now, I believe Amazon have allowed those apps into their app-store.
With all the vacillating that Barnes and Noble have done over their tablet line in the last 6 months – give up on the tablet line or not give up on the tablet line, one has to spend a great deal of thought on whether to invest in a Nook tablet or not at this stage. But to be perfectly honest, the B&N Nook was the first all-purpose, multi-use tablet on the scene after the iPad. There is a lot of speculation in the industry over whether B&N will be able to stay in business because Amazon on the Apple iBookstore are giving the store-front bookstores a real run for their money. I, for one, hope they manage to stay afloat. Everybody needs that elite bookstore experience once a month or so.
I had the chance to hold a Kindle Fire HD in my hand quite recently and I have to say that I like the feel of it. It feels sturdy without being heavy (another drawback of the iPad). And the interface seems springy and responsive. Frankly, if I were looking for a device to read, stream TV or movies, and surf I would probably choose the Fire HD over the iPad. The only reason to not choose the Fire is if you are located outside the United States because most of the content available via the Fire is restricted to the U.S. I have one friend in the Caribbean who swears by the Nexus 7 and dubs it “the most viable contender for the Kindle Fire internationally”.
Now if you’re like me and you use your tablet in place of your laptop or desktop computer, then a Nexus or a Kindle Fire might not fit the bill at all. There was a time when I would say that I’ve not heard of a device that can emulate an computer as well as an iPad can. That’s not so true anymore – the Microsoft Surface is a device to watch here because it is marketed as both a tablet and a mobile computer. Of all the other tablets out there, I think the Surface rivals the iPad the best.
At the end of the day, it all depends on what kind of reader you are: dedicated-don’t-want-to-be-interrupted or want-to-do-it-all-from-one-place. Which one are you?