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Cheap Ereaders Buying Guide
Some cheap ebook readers have extra features, like the ability to play MP3s, display pictures, or connect to an online bookstore via Wi-Fi connection. But cheap ereaders are not netbooks or digital photo albums. They are portable libraries, pure and simple. And while additional functionalities are welcome, their presence shouldn't tempt you to disregard certain "must have" features or performance standards.
As you shop for a cheap ereader, the first thing to look for is a screen that's easy to read (best bet here: an ereader featuring E Ink Pearl). You'll also want a cheap ereader with adjustable fonts, good battery life, and the ability to support several file formats, including EPUB. Remember to check on the storage capacity; a good cheap ereader should have lots of built-in storage or at least an expansion slot for a memory card. Of course, using the cheap ereader should be intuitive, and it should run fast -- you don't want to wait 10 seconds after you turn a page for the new page to load on the screen.
In times past, Amazon's Kindle was the de facto ebook reader and all other products were fighting for second place. That's not the case any longer. There has been an explosion of good cheap ereaders that are the Kindle's equal, or nearly so, and all of those products have price tags of $150 or less. The latest version of Barnes & Noble's Nook (starting at $99) has earned a lot of respect among reviewers, as has the Kobo eReader Touch (starting at $100 with ads, $130 without, Amazon). Sony used to offer three ereaders in different sizes, but has since settled on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1 (starting at $150, Amazon), a six-inch model that has almost every feature you could desire in an ebook reader -- something reviewers have noticed. The Sony, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo models are all relatively new, but there are still a few older ereaders out there that cost a little less than the top models: Ectaco's jetBook Lite (starting at $100, Amazon) and the Aluratek Libre Pro (starting at $70, Amazon) are two examples.
We particularly like the Barnes & Noble Nook, Amazon Kindle Touch, and Sony Reader Wi-Fi because of their excellent features and performance for a bargain price. The Kobo eReader Touch is a good ebook reader, but perhaps not quite at the same level as the Nook or Sony Reader Wi-Fi. We are way less impressed with the Ectaco jetBook and Aluratek Libre Pro, mostly because their older technologies can't compare with the newest crop of cheap ereaders.
Best Cheap eBook Readers
Barnes & Noble NookBarnes & Noble's Nook is a favorite among reviewers for its excellent touchscreen and interface and battery life. The fact that it's directly tied into Barnes & Noble's bookstore is certainly a plus. About the only thing this ereader lacks is audio support. Read more »
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Amazon Kindle TouchAmazon's Kindle is no longer the defacto ebook reader, but the Kindle Touch keeps pace with the best ereaders currently available. Reviewers say this Kindle's touchscreen is long overdue and its performance is quite good. The best Kindle yet, and still affordable. Read more »
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Good Cheap eBook Readers
Kobo eReader Touch(with offers)
The Kobo eReader is well-liked by reviewers given its simple design and support for EPUB books; it also takes apps for the iPhone and iPad. This entry doesn't have the MP3 or image support of other ebook readers, but what it does, it does well. Read more »
Sony ReaderPRS-T1 with Wi-Fi
Older Sony ereaders were also-rans in the ebook readers market, but that's not the case anymore. The Reader Wi-Fi may cost a little more than other ebook readers, but it's an excellent quality ereader that holds its own against any other budget model on the market. Read more »
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Don't Bother Cheap eBook Readers
Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro
The Aluratek Libre Pro is bargain-priced right now, but that diminutive price tag doesn't look nearly as attractive when compared to the sub-$100 Kindles. The Libre Pro is one of the older ereaders out there, and its lack of internal memory, touchscreen, and Wi-Fi support makes the device seem very outdated. Read more »
Ectaco jetBook Lite Review
Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro Review
Kobo eReader Touch Review
Sony Reader Review
Barnes & Noble Nook Review
Amazon Kindle Touch Review
Are eBooks a bargain in comparison to traditional books? Read our analysis to find out the pros and cons of each.
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