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Tablets Vs. E-readers: A Head to Head Bout

Posted on the 14 September 2011 by Nerdywerds @NerdyWerds
In our first show down, it's Tablets vs. E-readers

Yesterday on the Facebook page, my friend Heidi asked me for some advise about buying a tablet or an e-reader. First of all, I really appreciate the question, and thought it'd make for a great article. This also feels like a goof chance to jump into our first comparison article. We're not going to discuss specific devices so much as we are the reasons why you'd pick one over the other. So, without further ado I'd like to thank Heidi and get this show down started.

In the first corner, weighing in around 10 ounces, led by Kindle and Nook, are e-readers. E-readers, or e-books readers, are portable, tablet-like devices, designed, in principle, for reading digital books and media. As I mentioned a moment ago, the two "big boys" in the e-reader world are Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. E-readers are very well equipped to handle there designated tasks. They are lightweight, around 9 ounces, they have great battery life, Kindle gets up to two months, and they have enough memory to hold thousands of books. They also have several features you won't find on tablets that make them ideal for reading books; chief amongst them is "electronic paper". E-paper mimics the visual properties of traditional paper. It reflects light in much the same way as ordinary paper, unlike tablets. This technology to mimic paper makes e-readers ideal for reading in any light. If you've ever tried reading a text message or anything else on your phone outside in strong sunlight, you'll definitely know how frustrating it can be. With e-readers. you don't have the same problems. They are designed to look as much like a regular book as possible.

And in the other corner, weighing in at around 1.5 lbs, and being led by the iPad and Galaxy, are tablets. Tablets like the next evolution of computers. In fact, the biggest operating system makers in the world, Microsoft, Apple and even Ubuntu Linux, have made their next generation OSes to run on tablets as well as regular computers. A tablet is like if your smart phone and computer had a baby. They are full featured, powerful, portable and affordable, when compared to laptops. I have a friend who's able to work from home, and most of his work is done on his iPad. So for me, this lays to rest questions about their viability as a work device. You can take notes, browse the web, video conference, display work presentations, edit word documents and more. Almost anything you can do on a laptop, you can do on your tablet. Most come equipped with WiFi and/or 3G/4G mobile data. So whether you're in your living room or on the train to work, you can get your work done. It is much debated, but a pretty safe assumption, that you can replace your computer with a tablet.

Now that we've had a brief refresher on the two types of devices, let's do a bit of comparison. First off, let's talk dollars and cents. It's an unfortunate fact of life, but money, in fact, does not grow on trees. E-readers win this round pretty handily. E-readers average in price anywhere between $125-$175, with a few outliers on either side. Tablets, on the other hand,a re a bit more expensive. For the sake of this comparison, we're not considering tablet prices with a data contract. If that is the route you plan to take, the price comes down significantly. The typical price of a tablet can lie anywhere between $150 and $800 dollars. The cheaper end of the spectrum sports products I'm not terribly familiar with, so they'll require more research on your part. You're looking at the $400 range before you get to a product I can recommend. While there are options on the lower end of the spectrum, I'd still say that if price is an issue, the e-reader is the best bet for you.

But who makes a decision solely on price? Let's look at specifications. In this round, tablets come roaring back, scoring a near knockout. As I stated earlier, tablets are essentially portable computers. As such, they feature bigger, faster processors, more memory, more RAM, bigger screens, better graphics, higher resolution and, typically, a more full featured OS. That's not to say e-readers are without their charms. As mentioned earlier, e-readers feature "e-paper". As such, they provide much better visibility in all lights. Some e-readers actually run Android's operating system as well, nullifying that advantage. Many have WiFi capability and also have a web browser. But from a purely apples to apples comparison, tablets win this one hands down. If you're wanting to replace a big, bulky laptop or even bigger desktop, this one's a no-brainer.

In our final, tie breaking round, we're going to evaluate overall value. Unfortunately, this one depends upon your needs. If you live on the beach, you lucky dog, and want to read under the sun, than this is really no competition, e-readers win easily. But if you are looking for a full featured, all in one computing device, you should look at a tablet. In addition to all of the features listed earlier, many tablets OSes have an e-reader app. The most common is Kindle, whose app I actually have on my phone. Also, Google Books is a tremendous app for reading books. It has a great library of free, classic books on it. So there is a high degree of value to be had for either route, but since you've tuned into this blog, I will provide my opinion as to which offers more. For me, I say the tablet is the better value. The tablet is, for me, a complete replacement for a computer and offers such a high degree of portability. You can't really go wrong with either, but I just feel that the benefit of reading outside is outweighed by the sure amount you can do with a tablet.

To the victor goes the spoils, and in this case, that means it's recommendation time. I've got 3 products I'd recommend, and one I'd like to, but it's a bit harder to find now. If you're an Apple fan, then the iPad is the alpha and omega of your search. it's a tremendous product, backed by a great company with an awesome culture. I really don't need to sell the iPad because everyone knows about them. If you're looking for an Apple alternative, I'd say you should go with the Samsung Galaxy tablet or the Blackberry Playbook. Both are on par with the iPad, so you won't be sacrificing any performance with them. The Galaxy tablet runs Android and the Blackberry runs Blackberry's operating system. They both have big app markets and a host of cool features. Since this isn't a full review, I'm going to leave it at that. But if I ever get my hands on either, I'll be sure to put a full review up. The honorable mention tablet here is HP's TouchPad. I was excited about this product when it came out. WebOS is a promising operating system, and I'm generally a fan of HP product. But recently, HP pulled the plug on WebOS and the TouchPad. They have since liquidated the remaining supply, so you may be able to find one for cheap, but it's highly unlikely.

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