E-readers compared to old books.
Credit: © Flikr, Andrew Mason, Creative Commons BY

Thinking of buying an e-reader? This article is made for you!

Maybe you are currently stuck like I was, comparing all the features of every device to decide which to buy? I will try to help you a bit in the process with my e-reader experience.


E-reader or Tablet ? 

Although they look similar on shape, the main difference between E-readers and tablets is the screen display. The e-reader has an e-ink screen which really looks like paper when you see it for the first time. This e-ink screen is really better for reading books compared to a tablet Tablet vs e-readersCredit: © Flikr, sjunnesson, Creative Commons BY-NC-SAscreen.

Although the screen quality is pretty great for reading, this comes as always with downsides:

  • There is no e-ink color display currently (there is only some prototypes for now). So your screen will display in shades of grey.
  • The rendering is really slow and it takes about one second to render an entire page. This is especially difficult for some activities such as web browsing and playing games.
  • There is no emission of light from the screen and you will need a light to read on your e-reader (like the good old book). However, some models are equipped with backlights.


The screen

E-reader screenCredit: © Flikr, The Hamster Factor, Creative Commons BY-NC-ND

All the main e-readers (Sony PRS, Amazon Kindle, Kobo and Nook) are using almost the same screen technology on their device. There is practically no difference of screen quality between each e-reader apart from their size.



When it comes to the size, there are a lot of different models:

  • 5’’ Display: Kobo Mini, Sony PRS 300/350.
  • 6’’ Display: Kobo Touch, Amazon Kindle, Nook Touch, Sony PRS T1/T2
  • 7’’ Display: Sony PRS-900BC
  • 9.6’’ Display:  Kindle DX (Classic & 2011).


If you really need a big screen size to read, the Kindle DX might be for you (however it cost nearly the triple of other e-readers).

The 6 inches display appears to be by far the most common size and still really good for reading. I personally think that the 5 inches display might be a bit too small to read comfortably.


The battery


BatteryCredit: © Flikr, Jami3.org, Creative Commons BY-ND

The good thing about e-readers is the battery life. The average e-reader can be used up to 8 weeks without recharging it! There is no energy consumption to keep the screen on. This means that even if your e-reader is off, it still can show the cover of your last book read on the screen without energy!


The battery life is nearly identical for all e-readers depending on their size and lighting capabilities.


File formats


  • Books 

A large number of file formats are available for e-books and some e-readers might not read your favorite format.


file folderCredit: © Flikr, Kasaa, Creative Commons BY-NC

The EPUB format is the standard format for e-books, all e-readers can read it except the Amazon Kindle. Most e-books found on the internet will be in the EPUB format. (If you want to buy a Kindle, you can convert EPUB files into something else without any problem).


The Kobo Touch (and Glo) and the Amazon Kindle (all types) are the only e-readers which can read web pages.


The PDF format is a common format on computer for documents. This format is difficult to read on e-readers due to its layout and some e-readers are better than others on this point.

The best device for this format is the Sony PRS, the navigation is smooth and well-designed. The Kobo touch is just after the Sony PRS with a good PDF render. You might experience some bugs with the Nook on this format. The Kindle is the last e-reader on this point and you might experience some problems with the navigation.


  • Audio

Music on ebookCredit: © Flikr, Brandon Giesbrecht, Creative Commons BY-SA

If you don’t have a music player yet, your e-reader might also play music!

The Sony Reader can play MP3 and AAC (Apple iTunes Format) music files while the Nook can read a lot of formats (AAC, AAC+, AMR, MP3, MIDI and LPCM).



Additional features


  • Dictionary & Translator:  Translation and dictionary features are now available on most e-readers and there is no need to worry about it when choosing your device.
  • Backlight: Some devices are including backlighting capabilities to read in the dark. The Kobo Glo and the Kindle PaperWhite are equipped with this feature.




While all e-readers have roughly the same features, some additional features can help you to select the right device. You should take into account the Screen size, Audio, User interface and backlighting when choosing. I personally bought the Kobo Touch (the ancestor of the Kobo Glo) and I’m very happy with it.

Thank you for reading my article !


Here is the amazon link of each e-reader :

Nook Simple Touch eReader
Amazon Price: $99.99 $59.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 4, 2013)