Tips for buying an ebook reader

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Guest Writer
Mature man reading an ebook on the beach

A quality ebook reader has become a must-have for many holidaymakers who enjoy a good book or two, or three for that matter whilst on their travels. They give you the means to pack lots to read without being weighed down by lots of novels.

While there’s several that will immediately spring to mind when it comes to e-readers, they may not be the best fit for your needs. Every product has different selling points and the best ebook reader is the one that meet your requirements if you want to enjoy reading while on holiday.

We take a look at the key features you should look out for when buying an e-reader.

Screen – E-Ink versus backlit LCD

The first, and arguably most important, thing to think about is the screen and which type you’re most comfortable reading.

Ebook readers usually have two types of screen, E-ink and backlit LCDs (which is what you’ll normally find on a tablet) and each have pros and cons.

For people who want to read for extended periods of time, an E-ink screen is likely to be more comfortable. E-ink screens are not backlit, have a brilliant battery life and invariably have a matte appearance which provides the feel of reading a sheet of paper. They can sometimes be a little less reactive than LCD devices but many e-reader owners believe E-ink to be an ideal substitution for the printed page.

LCD devices tend to have more features than those with E-ink displays, with some ereaders able to perform in a similar way to a tablet. LCD devices can usually display a wider range of colours and offer a touchscreen, some even offer web browsing, music, movies and gaming capabilities.

Screen size

Most of the more popular ebook reader have six inch screens, but different sizes are available. Choosing a screen size is really a matter of personal preference and it is well advised you visit an electronics retailer and get a feel for the product before buying. One important point to consider is how you’ll be transporting and storing the e-reader – if you’re planning travel light then a more compact device may be the better option.


Using a touchscreen ebook reader


If you’re looking to buy an e-reader purely to use it for reading then it isn’t likely that you’ll get any benefit for a touchscreen devices. If however you’d also like to browse the internet, download and read documents or play games then a touchscreen can make your user experience more enjoyable.

Dictionary support

A few e-readers come with dictionary support as standard which allow you to look up words as you read and display the result in a pop-up box on the screen.

Some e-readers say that they have dictionary support, but this might mean that you need to download and install a dictionary yourself. If you don’t want to fiddle with the ins and outs of this, then look for ebook readers with a built-in dictionary.

Expandable memory

Given that most ebook files are relatively small and you can store what you’re not reading on your computer, but if you have a huge ebook library and absolutely must keep it on you, you might want to keep an eye out for an e-reader with expandable memory.

This can come in the form of SD or microSD in varying capacities, but you can have as many interchangeable cards as you need to store your books.


If you’re the kind of person who loves to scribble notes in your books, or needs to mark sections for study and so on, some e-readers do allow annotations.

Generally speaking, to enable annotations easily an e-reader must have one of two things: a QWERTY keyboard, like the Kindle Keyboard or the iRiver Story HD, or a touchscreen, like the Sony Readers, the new Kobos and the Kindle Touch.

Both are a little on the fiddly side. Text input using a keyboard with an E Ink display is laborious, made even more so by having to navigate to the exact text position where you wish to leave the note.

Touchscreens are a little more intuitive, allowing you to not only tap the exact position and handwrite your notes (although they’ll look rather more juvenile than your regular handwriting), but also dragging along the text to highlight and tapping a corner to leave a bookmark.



Wi-Fi is one of those features— but many readers enjoy the convenience of being able to shop for, purchase and download ebooks directly on the device, and indeed it does cut out the Adobe Digital Editions step.

It suffers, from the same laboured input that text suffers from; that is, typing out search terms and waiting for the e-reader to process and display that information can be a slow process and also uses the power a lot faster.

The Kindle 3G take  wireless functionality one step further, and offers a free 3G service where you don’t have to be in a Wi-Fi zone to access online buying, which is a much better option than just Wi-Fi. It means that if you’ve just finished reading a book on a bus, you don’t have to wait until you get to a Wi-Fi zone or a computer to purchase new reading material.

Audio support

Audio support is, again, not always a necessity but many users love it and it’s great for two reasons: having some music with you, and listening to audio books for those who like to keep their libraries all in one place. Most e-readers with audio support play MP3 files, although some also have WAV, AAC or OGG support.

A warning, though: like using Wi-Fi, playing audio files drains your battery faster.

Finding the best ebook reader for you

Finding the best ebook reader for you is about shopping around and choosing a product that meet your requirements. There’s a host of features available and cherry-picking those that suit your intended use for your ereader is the first step in getting the most out of it.

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