The popularity of e-readers might have peaked, but they're still a top choice for taking a virtual library on the move with you. Our latest test of 5 models makes for some good reading.
Snapshot: The Kobo Aura has a 5.9-inch screen. It supports 10 file formats including EPUB. But what’s it like to use?
Snapshot: The Kobo Aura H20 has a 6.7-inch screen. It supports 11 file formats including EPUB. But what’s it like to use?
Snapshot: The Amazon Kindle has a 6-inch screen. It supports 10 file formats, but not EPUB. What’s it like to use?
Snapshot: The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G has a 6-inch screen. It supports 10 file formats, but not EPUB. What’s it like to use?
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There haven’t been too many new e-readers released in the past year. In fact, most of the new ones offer only subtle revisions from previous models.
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We don't include tablets (such as iPads) in our e-reader test reports. That's because tablets are very different beasts from pure e-readers - so it's very much like comparing Apples with oranges.
Most smartphones and many portable media players have e-reader applications, making every smartphone a potential e-reader. For example Amazon's Kindle app is available on Android, Apple, Windows 7 phones and other platforms.
Some of the apps (like Kindle) allow you to read your books on whatever device you like – which means you can buy your book on an iPad and then transfer it to your phone. But others require you to buy a new copy of the book for each device.
E-ink is composed of small transparent capsules containing negatively-charged black particles and positively-charged white particles suspended in a fluid.
A negative charge pushes black particles to the surface of the capsule to form black text. A positive charge does the reverse.
This system requires very little battery power. As a result, many e-readers can make over 10,000 page turns on a single charge.
E-ink takes about half a second to "form up" whenever you turn the page of an e-book. E-ink Pearl is 20 percent quicker than standard e-ink, so page turns are more fluid.
Set up an account with an online store.
Buy an e-book – or pick from the collection of free e-books.
Download your book to your computer.
Sync your e-reader with your computer via USB.
If you buy a wireless e-reader, you can download books through a wireless internet connection (there's no need to connect your e-reader to your computer). All of our tested models have WiFi.
If you buy a 3G e-reader, you can search for, select and purchase an e-book via a 3G phone network.
As well, some websites specialise in free books – gutenberg.org is one.
Many libraries now offer e-books. You “borrow” an e-book by downloading it via a digital platform like OverDrive Media Console. Borrowed books “expire” automatically after a couple of weeks. So there's no need to worry about fines for non-returned items.
NB: Kindles aren't compatible with library lending platforms (at least not outside the US). You can't use a Kindle to borrow books from your local library.
Check out more of our tests, articles, news and surveys in our Technology section.
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