Choosing an eReader as a College Student

Do you have someone in your family who will be going off to college this fall? Or, perhaps you are the one who will be setting off on this new and exciting stage in your life. Whether it’s the local community college, major university, or online school, there are various items to consider having. One of your purchase considerations is an eReader or a tablet.

There are just as many reasons for wanting an eReader, as there are brands and features to choose from. If you haven’t looked at your options yet, it might be a little intimidating at first when choosing an eReader for your loved one, or for yourself. To help eliminate some of the anxiety of choosing one on the spot, I have done some of the homework for you, so you are armed with information before shopping online or walking into the store. Here are some key things to consider when choosing an eReader as a college student:

eReader and Tablet Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of eReaders and tablets is portability. The lightweight nature of the devices are a major reason so many people are turning to these gadgets, especially when you consider the idea of carrying one lightweight gadget, compared to several, heavy textbooks. Cost is another attractive feature to having an eReader or tablet, once you get past the initial investment of buying the device, which is low, all things considered. Most traditional books and textbooks are more expensive than eBooks. This can provide significant savings, and what college student doesn’t need that?

Now, onto what to consider when purchasing a tablet or e-reader:

1) Display

One of the major differentiating features between an eReader and a tablet is that an Ereader uses e-Ink technology from 8 to 16 gray scale. e-Ink displays text reflectively with great contrast, similar to reading a paper book. It is great for reading for long periods of time indoors or outdoors and doesn’t cause as much eye strain as a typical LCD computer screen.  Another advantage of e-Ink technology is that it consumes less power when the screen is on, hence the battery will last much longer.

On the other hand, a tablet screen is backlit IPS (In-Plane-Switching) LCD . The benefits of this screen display are:

  • Terrific for graphics and vibrant color saturation
  • Wider-view angle for watching movies/TV shows and sharing with another person if you wish
  • Can be viewed or read in the dark without external light source

The downside is that it creates glares, especially in the direct sunlight.  More, it takes more power to keep the screen on and to process multi-media application files.  Therefore, the battery life of a tablet is only a fraction of that in an ereader.

And last, you will want to consider the size of the display. The larger the screen, the easier it is to view what you are reading, or watching. Then again, the larger the screen…the more weight to the device.

2) Quality

When making an investment in a tablet or eReader, it can be difficult to know true quality “advertised quality”. The manufacturer is going to do their best to make you think their product is the best device available. So, instead go to the most trusted source you can find…current users. Check online for reviews written by the consumers who are currently using the unit. You will get a more accurate description of both the positive and the negative. Another good way to check is to ask your circle of friends and family. Post something on your favorite social network so your friends and family can comment.

3) Finding Content

When the eReaders and tablets first came out, it was important to buy the device according to where you most often would buy your content. For example, if you like to make your purchases from Amazon, then you should have bought a Kindle, or Nook if you prefer Barnes and Noble. However, technology is ever-changing. Now there are apps that make cross-purchasing easy between the stores and whatever device you have.

Since you will most likely be purchasing or ‘renting’ e-textbook material, take a look at Amazon. They beat most any other competitors when it comes to both selection and price, which is extremely important to a college student.

In fact, when it comes to saving money, there are opportunities available for free eBooks, and can be found at the library, as well as the Internet. I typed in a keyword phrase “free ebook” in Google, I got a long list of resources for free ebooks.  Don’t forget that Barnes and Noble allows Nook owners/users to read a book for an hour a day for FREE in the store. Amazon’s Kindle store offers free e-books as well.

4) Key Features to Help You Study

Entering college can also be intimidating when ystudying you will need to do for your courses. Fortunately, there are features you can look for in an ereader or tablet that will help make studying easier, such as highlighting or note-taking capability. This allows you to highlight certain text, just as you would with a traditional textbook and a yellow highlighter pen. Taking notes is never easier as if you were writing in the margins of a book.

You can also take advantage of a dictionary and other referencing tools if it’s available on your particular device. That feature alone can save a lot of space and weight by not having to carry the traditional books around.

All the Kindle models, Nooks and Sony Readers are capable of the functionality.

5) Storage Capability

Storage space is probably more of a concern if you plan on gaming, downloading music, and storing movies. All the devices come with internal storage capacity from 2GB (Amazon Kindle) up to 64GB (iPad). In addition, some brands of ereaders/tablets give you the option to store your content in the Cloud such as the Amazon Cloud while others have an on-device slot for you to expand the internal storage via a memory card in the case of Sony Readers and Nooks.

6) Battery Life

For the most part, a tablet’s battery life is fairly long, especially compared to the battery life of a laptop. For instance, Kindle Touch’s battery life can last up to 60 days, when used on average of 30 minutes each day. Comparatively, Kindle Fire, as a tablet, only has a battery life of up to 8 hours. The battery life can differ among brands and devices, so just take note of this before purchasing.

7) Price

As you can imagine, the price variance between devices will range considerably. The good news is that the prices have come down due to the competition, just as it always does when technology isn’t new any longer. You can find a decent ereader or table for under $200. Now, the iPad is more costly, but it is the top-of-the-line in the tablet market.

Whether you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or are employed in the workforce, hopefully these seven tips will help you when choosing an eReader or tablet.

About the Author: Lei is a full-time Internet Marketer by day and an eReader Enthusiast by night. She enjoys sharing tips and reviews of best-rated e-readers and tablets.