At first glance, tablets and eBook readers look pretty much the same with their screens turned off. You can recognize an eBook reader by its size because it should always be smaller than a tablet. However, tablets are getting smaller and thinner every day, so it is getting even more difficult to make a difference before you turn on the screen.
While computers and laptops are products of the 20th century, tablets and eBook readers were introduced during the first decade of the 21st century. It sounds impossible but eBook readers appeared first and the first models were made by Sony and Amazon. However, if you wanted to send an e-mail or connect to the Internet, you would still need to reach for your computer or your phone. This is why manufacturers have decided to create something with moderate dimensions, lightweight and practical that can have multiple purposes, and this is how the first tablet/iPad entered our lives.
E-book readers were first introduced as simple devices with only one purpose – reading books, while tablets had colorful screens, access to the Internet, e-mail apps, social networks, etc. Apart from all those features, tablets have access to different reading apps that could enable the customers to read books. The competition became more serious and, subsequently, eBook readers had to become more innovative and modern. After some time, Amazon presented the newest model that had a color screen and even access to the Internet.
Today, we still don’t have too many options in this area and there are still only a few manufacturers producing these devices but the fact is that tablets and eBook readers have become extremely competitive and that many people have problems when trying to decide which one to buy. This is why we have decided to introduce you to both types of devices thoroughly so that you can realize which one you need more.
Who Makes Them?
If you search online stores thoroughly, you will find different models of tablets and eBook readers made by different companies but there are only a few that are really worth the money and attention.
E-book reader manufacturers
One of the most popular e-readers is the one you must have heard of – Amazon Kindle. You can choose between several models – Kindle Oasis, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, etc. Their prices go up to a few hundred dollars, but you can find some Kindle readers for less than $100 which is very affordable.
The second choice is Nook e-readers made by Barnes & Noble. You can get them directly from the manufacturer or you can purchase them from Amazon or some other e-store. Their prices vary from $50 – $200.
Another popular e-reader is Kobo. Kobo e-readers are similarly priced as the previously mentioned e-readers. You can choose between Kobo Aura (waterproof), Kobo Glo HD, and Kobo 2.0.
As you already know, iPads are made by Apple and they are probably the most expensive tablets on the market. You can choose between several models and the ones that have been mentioned quite often recently are iPad Mini and iPad Air. No matter which model you choose, be prepared to pay twice or three times the price of an e-reader. They are also more expensive than most of the tablets.
Probably the only company that sells equally expensive tablets as Apple is Samsung. During the recent years, they have been expanding their reach on the tablet, laptop, and smartphone market. They are constantly introducing new models, which are becoming pricier and pricier. Some of the most popular ones are Galaxy Tab S2 or Galaxy Tab A.
The Most Important Things to Consider When Buying a Tablet/eBook Reader
As we have mentioned before, tablets and e-readers may seem very similar but when you dig a little deeper, you realize they are very different devices with different purposes. This is why we wanted to emphasize all the important characteristics of both devices that really make the difference in their performance.
When we are talking about tablet/e-reader hardware, we usually think about the physical appearance, display size, and other characteristics related to the screen quality but we should also include some information about RAM memory, processor strength, etc. so that you can see the wider picture and understand how these devices actually work and what they can offer.
The size and the looks of the tablet and e-reader screens is one of their biggest differences. E-readers usually have black and white, usually 7-inch screens with a little to none screen glare. Tablets/iPads, on the other hand, come in various sizes but most of the models have color 10-inch displays with intense screen glare. Some people don’t mind the screen glare but when you’re reading a book, it can be quite annoying if the sun makes the lines hardly visible. However, we noticed that some customers complained about the screen glare of some Kindle models. As far as the display quality is concerned, the new standard for eBook readers is 300 ppi (pixels per inch) and anything below that can be considered poor. Tablets/iPads usually have better screen resolution, even up to 1024×768 pixels.
You have to bear in mind that e-reader screens have different structure and using them will be more difficult as they are less responsive than tablet LCD screens.
The housings of the two types of devices are pretty much the same. The greatest difference you will notice is the size of the device. Depending on the type, the device can have more or less buttons (volume controls, on/off button, etc.), camera, etc. Also, the tablet/iPad design is usually more interesting and colorful than the design of an e-reader.
When it comes to storage space, we have to give an advantage to tablets/iPads. The newest e-readers can have 8 GB of storage space and you can use this space to store numerous e-books but tablets/iPads come with up to 64 GB that you can use not only for storing books but also for photos, songs, etc.
Tablets also have better RAM memory, faster processors, etc. It is true that they have more serious tasks to complete but more speed and more storage wouldn’t harm e-readers.
Both devices have Wi-Fi chips and they can access the Internet (at least the newest e-reader models can but tablets can also use a mobile Internet connection.
This is the second thing that makes the difference between tablets/iPads and e-readers. They have completely different purposes and, subsequently, their operating systems are different because they are adjusted to the device’s purpose.
Tablets use different versions of Android OS, while Kindle e-readers also use one of the Android versions owned by Amazon but it is completely different from the classic Android.
Besides the OS, tablets have many other kinds of software that enable you to do all kinds of stuff. For example, they have cameras and flashlight software, photo editors, etc. E-readers have only one piece of software and all of its capabilities are related to improving the reading process. You can highlight text, search words online, save online articles, etc.
When you use an e-reader, you can access different apps and libraries and read different books but all of these apps will be related to reading books. When you use a tablet, you will be able to access Google or Apple store and download any app, game or song you want. With a tablet, the choices are infinite.
Battery life is one of the most important features of any electronic battery-powered device, including tablets/iPads and e-readers. It is important because you have to make sure that the battery is powerful enough.
E-readers have amazing batteries that can last up to a week or even more depending on the use, while tablet batteries can’t last more than a day or two, even with very moderate use. They are constantly being improved but the requests of the newest apps, screens, etc. are more and more demanding.
Talking about comfort may sound strange when discussing tablets and e-reader but considering the fact that they are mostly used on the go, you have to consider their weight, dimensions, and other characteristics that tell us how comfortable and how portable they are.
Tablets and eBook readers are usually held in both or sometimes only one hand. If you’re using them while commuting and holding your bag or jacket in the other hand, it becomes much harder to hold the tablet. It’s very important for your tablet/iPad or e-reader to be lightweight and small enough so you can hold it in one hand, but it still has to be big enough to enable easy reading without eye straining.
At this point, we believe that there is not much left to say. We have listed the most important things you should pay attention to before you buy a tablet or e-reader but you have to bear in mind that all devices have their advantages and disadvantages. Their purpose is what characterizes them as good or bad for certain use or certain user.
If you need a device only for reading books on the go, an e-reader is the perfect choice for you. It is simple to use (unless you want to access the Internet, which is a bit complicated and slow process). In case you need constant access to your email account, social networks, but also to eBooks, you should go for a tablet/iPad.
Anyway, after checking the specs, don’t be lazy – go to the nearest store, try several devices and see which one suits you best. This is the best way to avoid making mistakes and spending money on unnecessary and inadequate devices.