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The Best eBook Reader to Give as a Gift: Holiday Buying Guide & Recommendations

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/20/2011

Looking for a review-style roundup of the best ebook reader choices on the market today? Look no further because this review includes 4 top-performing eBook readers: the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and iPad, and discusses the pros and cons of each.

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    eBook readers have finally overcome the technological barriers in their way, and the price point has come way down. These developments are likely to make these best eBook readers one of the gifts of choice for the upcoming holiday season. The best ebook reader in terms of popularity is the Amazon Kindle, but there are a number of good options. The best option depends mostly on personal preference. With that in mind, this guide to eBook readers provides helpful information and discusses some of their unique capabilities. In each section you will find a link to even more detailed reviews right here on Bright Hub to help you make the best choice!

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    Amazon Kindle

    Rating Average

    kindle The Amazon Kindle is far and away the most popular eBook reader on the market. The Kindle's popularity derives in large part from its technological superiority. The device uses E-ink, the same technology used in most other E-readers, but it achieves very good performance nevertheless. Page turns are quick and crisp and the screen is easy to read. The Kindle battery life is very impressive, lasting a full month on a single charge. The device is quite light too, at just under 9 ounces, and users can download full books at any time on 3G or WiFi (some models come with WiFi capability only). The Kindle's storage capacity is very impressive; it can hold about 3500 average length ebooks.

    Some industry insiders suspect Amazon loses money on the Kindle, which it is currently selling for just $139 (or $189 for the 3G version).

    Image: Flickr - scriptingnews - Kindle DX

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    The Nook

    Rating Average

    Screenshot Barnes & Noble Nook The Nook is Barnes & Nobles's answer to the Kindle. The bookstore giant is heavily promoting their eBook reader, which has received favorable reviews. The Nook has a very large library of available books that numbers in the tens of thousands, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a color LCD screen. The device also has an on-screen keyboard and a number of helpful features, like the ability to play music files. It has just 2 GB of storage space, which allows it to hold about 1,500 eBooks, and runs notably slower than the Kindle. The Nook's battery life is worsened by the LCD screen, and only lasts for about 5 days of use. The Nook is still a very good option, though, and ranges in price from $199 to $225.


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    Sony Reader Touch

    Rating Average

    sony reader The Sony Reader is an eBook reader that comes in several editions. The Sony Reader Touch is the top-of-the-line model, followed by the Reader Pocket edition and the new Sony Reader Daily edition, which has not yet been released. Though the touch is technologically impressive, overall it does not compare well to the Nook or Kindle. There are a number of good features on the Sony Reader, such as a large memory, ability to read word and PDF files, support for MP3 and AAC music files, as well as its adjustable font size. Unfortunately, the screen still suffers from issues with glare, which can make reading the device outdoors difficult. The contrast is poor when compared to the Kindle and is not adjustable. Another caveat is that the Sony Reader battery is not removable, which spells trouble should the battery begin to fail with age. The battery life is good, however; its price is approximately $169.99.

    Image: Wikimedia Commons - Sony Reader showing Pride and Prejudice


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    Apple iPad

    Rating Average

    Apple iPad The Apple iPad is a multi-use device that is not marketed specifically as an eBook reader. The iPad, however, does a very good job as an eReader. Its additional features beyond book reading makes it an attractive, albeit significantly more expensive, option as a gift. Unlike other eReaders, the iPad's screen does not use e-ink. This means that the screen can render colorful images, unlike other readers. However, the screen can be difficult to read, particularly in direct sunlight. Some users reportedly experienced eye strain when reading on the iPad. The biggest issue is the iPad's weight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad weighs nearly a pound more than the Kindle; holding this weight in your fingers can become tiring over long periods. There are several other great features on the iPad, though, like access to 3rd party apps (meaning you can use books from your Kindle account), quick page turning, and back lighting. The back light means that you can read the iPad in low-light situations, unlike e-ink-based readers. This feature comes at a price, though, as the iPad only gets around 10-12 hours of battery life. There are several editions of the iPad, which range in cost from $699 to $750.

    Image: Wikimedia Commons - Apple iPad Event

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    All four eReader devices reviewed here would make excellent gift choices. The most popular eBook reader this holiday season is likely to be the Amazon Kindle due to its low price and excellent performance capabilities. The Barnes and Noble Nook is an excellent competitor, but its higher price is not really justified by its performance. The Sony Reader is inexpensive but does not outperform the Kindle or Nook, and is not the best buy on the market.

    The iPad, manufactured by Apple, is an excellent gift idea for those with a larger budget. The device comes with a number of extra features, and you shouldn't think of it solely as an eBook reader. It can also surf the web and use many different apps, including Amazon's Kindle app. Its backscreen makes it good for reading in low lighting, but can make for irritating glare in direct sunlight. The iPad is quite expensive, however, costing a minimum of about $700. The best eBook reader for this holiday season is definitely the Amazon Kindle, but the iPad is a good gift idea for those who want to do more than read books.