2011 Back to School Guide: The Top 5 e-Book Readers

evolveteam August 11, 2011 0

Words by J.R. Fisher

Most of us are accustomed to enduring the everyday back pains of being an undergrad. Lugging around 500-page novels and 1,000+ page textbooks in our North Face and JanSport backpacks: it’s not cool. But now thanks to e-book readers, we can lighten the load and download newspapers, textbooks, and magazines (in color), as well as listen to music and search the web—all on one lightweight and portable device. So with over 50 ereader models available for purchase: How do you know which is best suited for your needs? Here’s a start.

 B&N Nook Simple Touch Reader

The second-gen Nook sports a stunning and responsive 6-inch e-ink display that produces faster page-turning speeds thanks to its speedy Texas Instruments 800MHz OMAP 3 CPU. Besides boasting a library of 2 million titles, the ereader also supports ebook lending, EPUB library loans, and some enhanced social networking features such as joining or building digital book clubs. Sweet. All titles are downloaded directly through B&N’s online store via wi-fi connection. As far as battery life, expect to get up to two months of juice on a single charge (w/ wi-fi turned off). It’s safe to say this Nook won’t let you down during those two to three-hour college courses.

 Buy It Now At Barnes & Nobles, $139.00

 Amazon Kindle 3G/Wi-Fi

For those who aren’t sold on touchscreen displays, breath easy. The Amazon Kindle 3G and wi-fi models are p-e-r-f-e-c-t for push-button enthusiasts: offering a great built-in keyboard with superb tactile feedback. Fitted with an e-ink Pearl display, this lightweight, compact device makes collecting ebooks a guilty pleasure, storing 4GB of internal memory, which translates to over 3,000 titles. That’s obviously far more than the most overzealous student can read in a year. What the Kindle lacks in extra memory (no expansion slot), it makes up in great battery life, faster speed, and MP3/digital image integration. Makes you wonder what Amazon has planned for its upcoming tablet. Until then, you can’t go wrong with either Kindle version.

 Buy It Now At Amazon, $190.00

 Kobo eReader Touch

Kobo offers some of the best ebook necessities in the form of a crystal-clear and responsive e-ink touchscreen. While large in length, its lightweight G-factor of 6.5 oz. makes portability a breeze. Store over 1,000 digital books on 2GB of internal memory or download up to 30,000 titles and save them directly through the microSD expansion slot. Some might find Kobo’s bookstore selection to be slim pickings, but for what it’s worth, the company does offer over one million downloadable books, and continues to gradually expand. Battery life is also said to hold up for at least one month on a full charge. Best of all, the Touch comes wi-fi enabled and is the most affordable of the bunch.

 Buy It Now At Best Buy, $130.00

 B&N Nook Color

With a vibrant 7-inch LCD touchscreen at the helm, the Nook Color makes everyday reading statisfying: supporting PDF, Word, and ePub formats. The ebook reader carries 8GB of memory, offers MP3 playback, and lets users browse the Web through wi-fi connectivity. And with its latest software upgrade you can bask in special features such as Flash video and the Nook app store. That means killing time in between classes downloading games and watching videos. It’s a true multitasking beast.

 Buy It Now At Barnes & Nobles, $249.00

 iRiver Story HD

If you’re all about having the latest tech, and happen to be a huge Google Books fan, you should look into iRiver’s latest gizmo. On top of gaining access to the search engine’s eBooks catalog, users can enjoy viewing digital text on its sharp 6-inch e-Ink display, which produces 768×1024 pixel resolution. The Freescale i.MX508 ARM Cortex-A8 chip speeds up performance and generates faster page views, too. Other notable fancies include wi-fi integration, memory expansion slot, and good battery life. For $140, you can’t ask for much more.

 Buy It Now At Amazon, $140.00