While tablets and e-readers can both be used to read e-books, tablets offer much more functionality, including the ability to run apps, play videos and access the Internet. Many next-generation e-readers are beginning to offer some of these functions, but keep in mind their feature sets are still less robust than those of tablets.
Ultimately, the device you choose will depend on what you want to do with it. Book lovers who want to enjoy the best possible digital reading experience will be happiest with a lightweight e-reader. However, if you plan to use your device for a variety of additional tasks, including gaming or watching movies, a tablet is the way to go. Read on for help in determining which of these two popular options may best suit your needs.
Features and Functionality
Tablets offer a wider range of features and capabilities than e-readers, such as high-quality photo and video cameras, video conferencing, document creation and editing, wireless printing, email functionality and the ability to play games. In addition, there are a wide variety of apps designed to run on tablets.
In comparison, most e-readers are designed solely for reading, and therefore offer better performance for this specialized task. Some e-readers will also play MP3 audio files, while newer models may include features such as full mobile operating systems, touch screens and mobile web browsers.
Display, Size and Weight
Tablet screens typically measure about 7” for mini tablets or about 10” for full-size models, whereas a 6” or 7” display size is typical for e-readers. (Keep in mind that screen size is measured diagonally from corner to corner.) In addition, tablets are generally heavier, weighing in at about 1.5 lbs. versus about 8 oz. for e-readers. And while the larger tablet screens are better for watching video or browsing the Web, e-readers are smaller and lighter, making them more comfortable to hold for long periods of time.
Another distinction between tablets and e-readers is the type of screen each uses. Tablets feature LCD screens while e-readers generally use e-ink (electronic ink) screens. LCD screens produce a vivid spectrum of colors that is great for watching movies and playing games. In addition, LCD screens are backlit, so they do not require an external light source. This makes them easy to view in dimly lit areas. However, in areas with bright lighting, especially sunlight, they may be difficult or impossible to view. Furthermore, LCD screens consume more power than e-ink screens.
E-ink screens do not emit their own light, but to compensate, some e-readers feature a built-in light. Contrast and readability increase with the amount of light available, so e-readers can be viewed easily in bright sunlight or directly under a lamp. However, since e-ink screens are designed to offer an experience similar to that of reading ink on paper, they cannot render color photos or support video. Newer e-readers with LCD technology can display this type of content just as well as tablets.
Tablets have a shorter battery life than e-readers, mainly due to the differences in their display technologies. While a tablet will normally run for hours without being recharged, an e-reader will usually have enough battery power for weeks of use. But keep in mind, the battery life of e-readers with LCD screens will be similar to that of a tablet.
Prices of Tablets and e-Readers
As you might expect, tablets cost more than e-readers. While you can get a serviceable e-reader for under $100 (more for an LCD model with extended features), expect to pay at least double that for a decent entry-level tablet. More sophisticated tablets cost between $500 and $800 (approaching the cost of a laptop), and the price can go upwards of $2,000 for super-high-end models.
So now that you know some of the basic differences between tablets and e-readers, it should be easier to decide which is best for you. In short, if you want the best reading experience for digital books and magazines, opt for an e-reader. If you want to do more, go with a tablet. And if you want to have it all, you can always get both! Browse Office Depot’s selection of tablets and e-readers now.