Mobile / Hands-on Review

The Read on E-Book Readers


Print on paper may not be entirely passé, but thin-screen devices that store hundreds of books—images, music and sometimes video, too—are clearly gaining cachet. While B&H doesn’t sell every brand of e-reader, it does offer a select group of capable models. Most employ touch screens. The displays range in size from 5 to 7 inches, and each model is considerably less expensive than a full-fledged tablet computer.

All these e-readers enable you to transfer media from your computer via an included USB cable and all but one let you download books, magazines, newspapers and other content wirelessly via a Wi-Fi connection. All but one link directly to an online bookstore that the manufacturer has chosen to partner with.

If reading will be the major activity, you’ll do fine with a monochrome, non-backlit screen. On balance, how many fiction and non-fiction titles require more than black and white to be read all over? And how many books are self-illuminating? The major advantages of monochrome readers are long battery life between charges and ultra-lightness in weight. For instance, the newest generation Sony Reader, the PRS-TI Wi-Fi Reader, empowers you to read on for more than a month on one battery charge. Its dual touch, glare-free screen lets you read even in direct sunlight, a prime consideration if you’re planning a head start on your 2012 beach reading via a Caribbean stopover this winter.

The other monochrome screen here, which is Aluratek’s Libre eBook Reader PRO, features a 5-inch ePaper Display and is the only model in which you keep your hands off the screen. While touch navigation has mainly eclipsed hard buttons, some people still prefer the tactile feel of separate controls, especially if they’re oiled up.

Having a bookstore at your fingertips anywhere with Wi-Fi access is the ultimate convenience. As more brick-and-mortar bookstores disappear, it may become a necessity. The Sony PRS-TI Wi-Fi Reader houses the Sony Reader Store for instant purchases. The two Pandigital Novel color models provide access to the Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore. And the Aluratek AEBK08FB LIBRE Touch eBook Reader with WiFi & 7" Touch Screen Color LCD supports Kobo’s online bookstore.

Not all e-Book content, incidentally, incurs a cost. The Sony PRS-TI Wi-Fi Reader enables public library lending and the downloading of Google public domain books. The Archos 70c Reader makes it possible to find free books via an AppsLib application. And the 2GB SD card included with the Libre eBook Reader PRO contains 100 free eBooks, classics ranging from Dracula to Wuthering Heights.

E-Book devices are especially friendly toward older users, since they can enlarge the text to a comfortable size and orient the page so that the words fit most efficiently across the screen in portrait or landscape mode.

Advantages of the four color TFT LCD models are that you can read the screen under poor lighting conditions and play movies and photo slide shows. Of course, that also means it’s easy to be distracted from finishing War and Peace. Nevertheless, you could be reading in bed in the dark listening with earphones to music from the same device, all without disturbing you spouse.

Running out of memory isn’t much of a threat when it comes to stuffing text into an e-Book. Each of these models can hold hundreds or more books at once. It’s only when you start adding video or a career’s worth of photos that the built-in memory can be insufficient. With 4GB of built-in memory, the Archos 70c eReader is the most capacious. Still, every model capable of playing video contains an SD card slot for exponentially expanding storage.

The holidays are a great time to give the gift of reading. If the recipient is partial to making it a tech holiday, an e-Book reader could be the way to go.

  Sony PRS-T1 Wi-Fi Reader Pandigital Novel Multimedia eReader Pandigital Novel Multimedia eReader/Tablet Aluratek LIBRE Touch eBook Reader Aluratek Libre eBook Reader PRO Archos 70c eReader
Wireless Content Access Sony Reader Store, public library lending Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore Kobo online bookstore None Free and pay via AppsLib
Screen Size 6" 7" 7" 7" 5" 7"
Screen Technology E Ink Pearl with Clear Touch Infrared TFT LCD TFT LCD TFT LCD ePaper TFT LCD
Operating System Unspecified Android Android Unspecified Unspecified Android 2.1 Éclair
Resolution 600 x 800 600 x 800 600 x 800 Unspecified Unspecified 800 x 480
Color Screen No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Touch Screen Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g 802.11 b/g 802.11 b/g None 802.11 b/g
Internal Memory 1.3GB 1GB 2GB 4GB None 4GB
Card Type microSD SD SD SD SD SD
Incl'd Card Memory 0 0 0 0 2GB 0
Battery Life Up to 14,000 continuous page turns (reading only) Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified 24 hours (2 weeks standby) Unspecified
Text Formats Unsecured: ePub, PDF, TXT; DRM: ePub, PDF EPUB, PDF EPUB, PDF EPUB, PDF, TXT, FB2, MOBI, PRC, RTF PDF, TXT, FB2, EPUB, MOBI, PRC and RTF Unsecured: PDF, EPUB, FB2; DRM: PDF and EPUB
Audio Formats Unsecured Audio: MP3, AAC MP3, AAC, WAV MP3, AAC, WAV MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, AAC MP3 MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV
Video Formats None MPEG4 MPEG4 WMV7/8/9, MKV, MOV, VOB, FLV


MPEG-4 AVI, FLV, MPG, RM, RMVB, FLV, MP4, DAT, VOB, MKV, MOV (up to HD 720p)
Dimensions 6.9 x 4.4 x 0.4" 5.5 x 7.5 x 0.5" 5.25 x 7.25 x 0.5" 4.9 x 8.0 x 0.5" 4.3 x 6 x 0.4" 5.l x 7.5 x 0.4"
Weight 5.9 oz 1 lb 3 oz 12 oz 13.1 oz 7.5 oz 13 oz
Color Choices Black, Red or White White Black Black White Gray

Discussion 2

Add new comment

Add comment Cancel

I've seen reports of a Sony that  will download from a Public Library as well as book stores.  I think this is what I'd like, unless Nook has a reader that will also download Kindle!  Thanks

Thanks for the great article. Being a B&H shopper, I have experienced that B&H will always provide the correct product info; even if that info may not benefit them. Following that model, I was expecting to see in the mix of readers the Kindle that B&H does not sell.

I'm curious about how convenient these readers are far as the available book libraries: Should one rather opt for the BN, Amazon, Sony Reader Store, public library lending or KOBO?

Once I have that info, I think it would be easier to select the correct reader,