Why It's So Easy To Confuse Ebook Readers And Tablet Computers

It seems fairly obvious that many people don't know the difference between an ebook reader and a tablet coKindle keyboard vs Apple iPad 2Credit: www.amazon.commputer. It's hardly surprising really. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble currently market both ebook readers and tablet computers under the same generic family name. Small wonder that people get a little confused at times.

Amazon has the entry level Kindle 4, the Kindle Touch, the Kindle Keyboard and the Kindle DX model of ebook reader and the new Kindle Fire 7" tablet computer. Barnes and Noble has the Nook Simple Touch ebook reader and the Nook Color and Nook Tablet tablet computers.

The fact that both ebook readers and tablet computers are relatively recent developments doesn't help either - and neither does the fact that they are often compared in online reviews. There are plenty of articles and blog posts comparing the Kindle to the Apple iPad to be found online.

However, ebook readers and tablet computers are quite different devices. Which one is right for you will depend upon what you want to use it for.

What's The Difference Between An Ebook Reader And A Tablet Computer?

The main difference between ebook readers and tablet computers is the type of display used. Ebookkindle fire vs nook colorCredit: www.amazon.com readers use e-ink technology displays, tablet computers use color LCD displays - usually touch screen. This has some implications on their usability in certain situations.

Ebook Readers

  • Use e-ink technology displays.
  • Monochrome, good for reading but not great for web browsing.
  • Battery life measured in weeks.
  • Ideal for reading for long periods. No eye strain.
  • Somewhat clunky web browsing.
  • No video playback facility.
  • Light and portable (8 ounces or less is typical).
  • Fairly cheap these days (plenty available for less than $ 100)

Tablet Computers

  • Back-lit, color LCD display.
  • Battery life measured in hours rather than weeks.
  • Not great for prolonged reading sessions - the back-lit screen may cause eye strain.
  • Ideal for surfing the net.
  • Excellent video playback.
  • Still a portable device, but heavier than an ebook reader (e.g. iPad - 24 ounces).
  • Currently somewhat pricey (but may change thanks to Amazon and Barnes and Nobles new 7" tablets).

Which Is Right For You?

Ebook Reader Or Tablet Computer?

Choose an ebook reader if:

  • You want to read for extended periods of time.
  • You like the idea of having a period of weeks between battery charges.
  • You intend to mainly read books, magazines and newspapers which don't have a lot of graphical content.
  • You don’t need to, or have some means  to, browse the internet.
  • You don't want to pay a lot of money for what is, at the end of the day, a secondary gadget.

Go for a tablet computer if:

  • You only plan to read for short periods of time.
  • You will be reading magazines with lots of color illustrations and pictures.
  • You will be surfing the web and/or playing video a great deal.
  • You don’t mind charging your device every day, or using it when connected to the mains.
  • You don’t mind paying a fairly high price.

Apple iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini MD528LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black & Slate)
Amazon Price: $329.00 $228.95 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 2, 2016)
Apple's latest offering might be a good compromise between an e-reader and a tablet.