How to choose between a tablet and an e-reader

Staff Writer By Staff Writer - updated February 10th, 2021
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It's a pretty wonderful time to be a reader, we can now carry 1000's of great books along with us - but do you go with the iPad or a Kindle Paperwhite?

For some, the choice between an e-reader and a tablet is no contest. Others may not know which one is the best option for their particular habits. To help the latter settle on a particular device, we've outlined a couple of questions they should ask themselves.

What need am I trying to fulfil?

Those looking for visual entertainment will prefer tablets.

Do you need access to relatively niche tools and applications that can assist you in your day to day routine? Are you starting to run out of places to organise your books? While an e-reader can hold more novels and guidebooks than you can imagine (the Kindle Paperwhite 2 can store about 1,000 titles), it doesn't provide access to Netflix, Pinterest or Skype.

On the other hand, if you're looking to immerse yourself in all kinds of entertainment, productivity tools, games and social networks, a tablet is easily the better choice. Depending on what type of make and model you purchase, the device may even serve as a valid replacement for your laptop (an endeavour the Microsoft Surface line is aiming for).

A book or a movie?

Thanks to backlit LCD screens common in most tablets, watching a film on the go is an enjoyable experience. Remember that these gadgets are built for those who have a propensity for indulging in visual entertainment, so the interface delivers on this end. Not to mention, you can still read e-books on a tablet if you wish.

That being said, staring at a well-lit LCD surface for two hours isn't necessarily pleasing. Not to mention because tablets are designed for touch support, their screens are generally quite reflective, so both artificial and natural light are bound to disrupt your reading experience.

In contrast, e-readers use e-ink technology, which doesn't require backlights to display text. This translates to less energy consumption and a display that's easy on the eyes. In fact, while an LCD-equipped device will have hours of battery life, an e-reader that reflects ambient light can last for weeks without a charge.

Do you enjoy Graphic Novels?

If you're into your graphic novels and comic books, it can be a hard choice between the different e-reader or tablet options.

The paper-like displays of e-readers often make them a more common choice. Now that many of the top brands feature colour displays on their premium products, it is harder to pass up on an e-reader.

However, the ease of use with a tablet is undeniable. Being able to so easily access a wide range of content, with plenty that doesn't even require downloading, if you read your comics from a wide range of places, a tablet is the choice for you.

Are you into textbooks?

Here's where things get tricky. Remember that textbooks are typically used as a reference. As a student, you may peruse a chapter at a time, taking note of the graphics designed to assist your learning experience.

For many, reading an 800-page textbook on physiology may translate to a frustrating experience on a 6-inch e-reader. In this case, a tablet is preferred.

It's also important to think carefully about which e-reader ecosystem you're planning on entering. Kobo, for example, has a far more open ecosystem, allowing you to import a wider range of reading material. This is in contrast to Kindle's more streamlined yet limited content.

Ultimately, choosing between a tablet and an e-reader comes down to your priorities. For the heavy readers, opting for the latter is a given, but those who indulge in the occasional Anne Rice novel may do well with a tablet.

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Staff Writer

For the words, not the glory!

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