The ABCs of E-Readers

By on December 3, 2012

Is an e-reader on your gift list this year? Perhaps you’re considering a tablet? Both are good options, but vary in several ways. Before the teenager working in the electronics department totally befuddles you, check out this quick review.

What are they?

E-reader is short for electronic book reader, a device that lets you read digital books and magazines. The first devices were used only for reading, such as the original Kindle and Nook.

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When Amazon released the free Kindle application for computers and smartphones, you no longer needed their device to read your electronic books. (Hurray! Read books from your cell phone and your laptop!)

But it’s hard to read a book on your cell phone, and who wants to tote around a heavy, bulky laptop when you can have those features in a lightweight device that’s the size of a paperback?

Enter the tablet.

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In addition to functioning as an e-reader, a tablet does almost everything a laptop does. It has a browser that allows you to access the Internet. You can also play games, take photos, watch movies, play and store music, etc. It’s basically a handheld computer!

Which one is right for you?

If you don’t need the functionality of a computer, a standard e-reader will probably suit your needs. If you go with a lower priced model, remember to buy a book light. Higher priced models have screens with different backlighting options that let you adjust for bright or dim conditions.

If you decide on a tablet, there are more considerations. Some tablets are available through your wireless carrier. Those devices access the Internet much like your cell phone, while tablets purchased at your local electronic stores use Wi-Fi. Expect to pay more if you get a high capacity device, and even more if you choose a high-definition screen. (Don’t forget a screen protector!)

Whether you choose a standard e-reader or a tablet, understand the functions and limits. And whatever you do, don’t leave the store without a good carrying case.

Now you’re ready to face down that teenager.

About Susan Stilwell

When Susan left her job as a computer analyst to stay home with her two toddlers, she figured she’d used her technical expertise for the last time. Twenty years later, she’s pairing that expertise with wit and humor as she explains technical concepts in easy-to-understand terms. She also has experience with a variety of social media platforms making her a welcome contributor to the Living Better at 50+ team. Susan is also a seasoned Bible teacher and Christian speaker. Passionate about God’s Word, she’s a prolific devotional writer and a popular guest blogger. She and her husband enjoy their empty nest in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. Connect with Susan on Twitter at @susanrstilwell and on her website,

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The ABCs of E-Readers