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Review: Should I buy an E-Reader or a Tablet?

Part 1 of a two-part article

The battle is on, do I jump in with both feet and grab a new Android tablet like a Samsung Galaxy or a Blackberry Playbook to read my e-books? Or do I simplify life and fall to the basics of an e-book reader like Kindle or Kobo?

To set the context, I love my e-books. Even long before Kindle and Kobo where possible, I bought PDF versions of books. The fact that you can use a search functionality to find content is a god send.

Within our house we have the gambit of technology, laptops, desktops, iPod touch (retired iPhone 3Gs), iPhone 4s, and iPad 1 to name a few.  With Kindle and Kindle I can access my e-books via my PC reader, my MacBook reader, via the web with Kindle, on my wife’s iPad (preferred choice) and my iPhone (small screen but manageable).  So why another e-reader you ask?? Well, I am usually stuck reading from my iPhone –

So here is my dilemma. Four technology choices, no perfect solution:

 1) Kindle or Kobo e-Reader  ($79 to $199)

Unlike devices with LCD screens, e-readers such as Kindle or Kobo use the latest generation of Electronic Ink (“E Ink”) technology – designed specifically to deliver clearer, sharper text that makes reading for extended periods of time more comfortable, and work great in daylight (do not have to worry about glare).  Add 1 to 2 months of battery life and sized to mimic a book, how can you go wrong?

 2) iPad ($519 to $719)

Our iPad has not steered us wrong, a great App community, and more importantly being able to save some money on having to buy the same applications across multiple platforms. For me, the biggest drawback is the size of the screen. I am looking for a device  that will fit between my laptop and me typing/reading away on my iPhone (where I am actually writing this article) so a 6 to 7 inch screen would be perfect.  A 10″ tablet or iPad is just not practical (especially when you are looking for a second device).   The downfall is the price; nothing Apple is inexpensive; but would have even swallowed the price I’d the form or size worked well.

 3) Android Tablet ($199+)

Google Android OS has been around fora few years and has grown in popularity as the primary operating system (OS) for both mobile phones and tablets.  Designed around the open market, you have one if the best sources for fun  add-ons and typically at a fraction price of the Apple equivalent.  In contrast both IPad and Blackberry applications require the blessing of Rim and Apple.  Available in 7 and 10 inch screens, the key distinction between each device (manufacturer) is battery life (typically 6 to 8 hours), built in storage (for apps, music, movies), convenience of connectivity (HDMI out, hcSD external storage), and quality of the built in camera.

4) Blackberry Playbook 7-Inch Tablet ($199 to $299)

RIM (Research In Motion) jumped into the Tablet market about a year ago. Compared to Apple, and as a former Blackberry owner, their biggest downfall has always been their availability of applications.  However, the PlayBook has recently become a new contender in the Tablet market with their recent OS release 2.0 (February 21, 2012) which can now run Android applications. On the hardware side, the Blackberry Playbook 7-Inch Tablet is rock solid, and includes HDMI and mini USB, however the PlayBook but could quickly be become a paperweight if the application world is not behind it.  After-all, how many versions of the same program can we expect developers to make??  Hopefully, Once Blackberry opens up the MarketPlace to Android applications life will get better for PlayBook owners.  RIM / Amazon – all I ask for is my Kindle reader!!!

So as not to start a PlayBook war, the current workaround to instal Android applications (apps) on your PlayBook is through Developer Sideloading – but not considered a formal or recommended practice for installing applications.

So what do you choose?

An e-reader that is great a just that – being a book – or a multi-function device such as a tablet?  My next post will dive deeper into the discussion and where my mind is headed.  But I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Mark is a foodie in training, photographer, Starbucks addict, runner, cyclist, and single parent living outside of Toronto, Ontario. Living with Crohn's Disease and Diabetes, life for this Transportation Planner and RPP can be an interesting mix.

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