Most of the eBook manufacturers offer app versions of their eReaders for Android, iOS, and Windows 7, so you might think that eReader devices are things of the past, but they're still being updated and selling well. In 2011, we've seen even more of a blurring of the line between what can be considered an eReader and what can be considered a tablet, with several eReader models running a locked-down version of Android (or not so locked-down version of Android, as I describe below).
For TechRepublic's 2011 Geek Gift Guide, we decided not to review every eReader on the market, but rather highlight the major devices that are available.
For reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.
Amazon has three dedicated eReaders that use e-ink screens: the Kindle, the Kindle Touch, and the Kindle Touch 3G. This year's models of the Kindle sport improved hardware over previous models, including a boost to processor speed. The only difference between the Touch and the Touch 3G is the cellular antenna, and the only difference between those devices and the basic Kindle is a simple touch screen option.CNET reviews: Amazon Kindle 2011 (with Special Offers, Wi-Fi), Amazon Kindle Touch, Amazon Kindle Touch 3G Related galleries: Amazon's 2011 Kindle, Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G and Cracking Open the Amazon Kindle 2011
Borders does not exist anymore, but its "store brand" eReader, the Kobo eReader is still available, now in WiFi, Touch, and Vox models. The first two of these newer models use e-ink screens reminiscent of other eReaders, while the third is an obvious Nook Color competitor, with its color screen and Android-based operating system.TechRepublic review: Geek Gifts 2010: Kobo eReader CNET reviews: Kobo Wireless eReader, Kobo eReader Touch, Kobo Vox
Another major player in the eReader market is the Nook line from Barnes & Noble. As with the Kindle and the Kobo eReaders, the basic Nook as well as the Nook Touch are e-ink devices; however, the basic Nook has a color LCD touch screen for navigation, whereas the Nook Touch relies simply on its e-ink touch screen. Also, the basic Nook has music playback available via the headphone jack, whereas the Nook Touch has none.
The Nook Color which, like the Kindle Fire and the Kobo Vox, is more closely related to the 7-inch slate tablets than an eReader. Like the others, this is an Android-based eReader-tablet that is highly modified and locked down. But the Nook Color isn't quite a tablet; in fact, Barnes & Noble recently announced its new Nook Tablet, a direct competitor to the Kindle Fire with a $50 higher price tag -- the Nook Color tablet will sell for $249, and the Kindle Fire will sell for $199. While the Nook Color tablet's specs are better than the Kindle Fire, I think most people buying a tablet in this price range will go for price more than hardware.CNET reviews: Barnes & Noble Nook (Wi-Fi), Barnes & Noble Nook Touch Reader (Wi-Fi), Barnes & Noble Nook Color
Sony Reader Wi-Fi
Sony recently updated its eReader to include Wi-Fi and a new enhanced multi-touch display supporting finger and stylus input. The Sony Reader is thinner and lighter than any of the offerings from the other makers above, but it is being squeezed out of the market by the Amazon and Barnes & Noble offerings.CNET review: Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1RC (red)
Do you own or intend to buy an eReader? If so, which device interests you? With the blurring of the lines between tablets and eReaders, what makes you continue to want a single-function device such as an eReader? If you don't use an actual eReader, do you use one of the eReader apps? Let us know in the discussion.
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