Six budget e-readers round-up: Xmas gift ideas?

2012 e-readers cheaper, not worse



At the end of 2011 e-readers seemed to have landed in troubled waters. Not because of a resurgence of the hardcover, but because of how quickly the mainstream embraced tablets. E-readers struggled to create a niche for themselves since the 90s, but since Apple's first iPad in 2012, tablets are here to stay. It looked like e-readers, which had similar prices as tablets, could have gone the way of the laser disc. However, a significant price drop was enough to turn this trend around, and e-readers are becoming more common in all walks of life. Hardware.Info tested six affordable models, including one that has an LCD instead of an E Ink screen. Which one should you ask Santa Claus to get?

E-readers have evolved quite a bit in a short time. Not long ago they were expensive gadgets for around £400, and now you have a lots of choice and price tags that are closer to £80. There are still a few more expensive models, but those are either larger or niche products. Out of the six e-readers in this test, the most expensive one costs around £119 and the cheapest one half that.

The tablet market also has much more affordable models nowadays, but still cost about double that of an e-reader. You do get much more functionality, including the ability to watch movies, surf the internet, chatting, mailing, playing games and so on. Modern tablets are also just as sharp as e-readers, which wasn't the case a few years back. High-end tablets even surpass e-readers in this regard. Still, reading for long periods of time is much more pleasant on electrophoresis displays than LCD. Because you don't have a light source shining into your eyes, it's less taxing. Electronic ink also does not have a refresh rate, so people sensitive to this can still use e-readers.

E-readers are cheaper and intended solely for reading books, and tablet are more expensive with a wider array of functionality. E-readers generally have a monochrome 6-inch display with 800x600 pixels, while tablets have a colour display 7 inches or larger, with at least 1024x600 resolution. Two years ago you had to choose between a tablet and an e-reader, but today you can for the 2010 price of a tablet buy both an e-reader and a decent tablet. So what's the best e-reader to get?

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