Comments Off on Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 2 eReaders, Tablets & Technology

In Part 1 of our tablet computer/eReader comparison series we learned that the availability of different grades of gasoline caused social upheaval, and poor fashion sense back in the 1980s. So, with that all behind us, we press onward to learn more about the differences between tablets and eReaders.

Now, where was I? Ah! Battery Life.

eReader Battery Life

Yuppers. Everything needs power. Huey Louis taught us all about the power of love. Scantily clad babes bring us girl power. Thank you! There’s flower power, Power Rangers, power of attorney, pyramid power, Public Enemy taught us to “Fight the Power”, power tools, power ties, power drinks, power & influence, power-to-weight ratios, and finally power to the people. That’s a whole lot of power, and all COMPLETELY off topic. Sorry. This article is all about tablets and eReaders. I… went away there for a minute, but, but… now I’m back.

As stated to in the previous article, E Ink uses staggeringly little energy. As a result, the battery life of eReaders is phenomenal. An owner can expect anywhere from two weeks, to up to two months of life on a single charge. Still, other companies measure battery life by the amount of pages turned. Sony, for example, states that the battery-life of its 6″ eReader allows for up to 14,000 continuous page turns. That’s more than enough “page flipping” to power through several books.

It appears that the battery life of an eReader is severely compromised by the introduction of colour. While I’m certainly not an electronics designer, the moment colour becomes an option, battery life plummets. In part, this may be due to the simultaneous inclusion of numerous other features. In other words, when colour is introduced, manufacturers also include other features, such as the ability to surf the web, watch movies, play games, listen to music, etc. Combined, all of these features require more energy, thereby decreasing battery life. For example, the newly introduced Kobo 7″ Vox Touchscreen Colour eBook Reader (with Wi-Fi) has a battery life of 6-hours. That’s not exactly as long lasting as the one-month of its grayscale counterpart, the Kobo 6″ eReader Touch Edition with Wi-Fi.

In all fairness, the Kobo Colour eReader comes with many more features than its colour-free sibling. These include the following:

  • A Flash File System (FFS) & Multimedia Display, rather than E Ink
  • Backlighting
  • A Built-In Speaker
  • 8 GB of Internal Storage, rather than 1 GB

Unlike its grayscale variant, the Kobo Colour can support numerous images, audio, and video formats. Therefore, it’s not surprising that its battery life pales in comparison to that of its colourless kin. All of this brings up an interesting question.

Is it a Tablet or an eReader?

Seeing as the Kobo 7″ Vox Touchscreen Colour eBook Reader uses FFS, and also has a multimedia display, is it really an eReader? Also, seeing that it can handle images, audio, and video formats, it’s beginning to sound a lot less like an eReader, and a lot more like a tablet. Let’s look at a few other devices blurring the line between the formats.

The Barnes & Noble Nook Color is a prime example of just such a device. Dubbed “The Reader’s Tablet™”, it’s advertised as providing “enhanced web browsing with Adobe® Flash® Player for mobile video, and interactive experiences”. The Colour Nook also provides the option to watch videos in AAC, MP3, MP4, or the Adobe® Flash®Player format. Furthermore, it can play audio via the built-in mono speaker, or you can tap into the universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack. The Nook Color has an operational battery life of approximately 8 hours, providing the Wi-Fi is shut off. Again, this pales in comparison to that of its non-colour counterpart, which boasts a staggering two months of battery life, with Wi-Fi turned off.

Next we move on to the new Kindle Fire. Basically, this is an eReader on steroids, although, technically, it is advertised as a tablet. What can be said? It does everything. You can surf the web, check, and answer email, watch movies, TV shows, play games, download apps, listen to music, etc. You can even use it to read. Oh, la, la. Yuppers. Check out books, magazines, periodicals and other “writey” stuff. As an added bonus, you’ll also automatically receive free cloud storage for all your Amazon content.

What about battery life? According to the official site, you’ll get “up to 8 hours of continuous reading, or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Of course, battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing, and downloading content”. By comparison, the battery life of its grayscale counterparts range from three weeks, to up to two months.

Given everything we’ve covered, it’s pretty clear that the battery life of E Ink eBook readers is much greater than that of its colour eReaders/tablet counterparts.

In terms of Tablet PC battery life, the worst of the lot appears to be windows-based slate computers. They tend to range between three to eight hours. In terms of battery life, the best tablet computers appear to be the Android based Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the HTC Flyer, each of which boasts 12-hours of operational time. Apple also does well with the iPad, and iPad 2, both of which have 10-hour battery life spans, but then again, so does the BlackBerry PlayBook. Next comes the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer which offers 9.5 hours of battery life, or 14 to 15 hours with the additional keyboard dock. For more information about the battery life of tablet computers, please read this insightful article entitled “Which Tablets Have the Best Battery Life?”.

eReader Pricing

Now, what about price?

This should be pretty short and sweet. As the market stands right now, eReaders generally sit between $100 to $200 dollars. There are occasional exceptions, but by and large, you can expect the price to fall somewhere within this range. If you want to go for a high-end eReader, consider purchasing the Kindle DX for a whopping $379.00. While this is expensive for an eReader, it does come with free 3G. Furthermore, the screen is HUGE. Measuring in at 9.7 inches, it’s comparable in size to that of larger tablet computers.

The price of tablet computers tends to range more widely than that of eReaders. Arguably, the best bang for the buck would be the Amazon Kindle. Coming in at $199.00, it blows away the competition in this price range. From there, the Nook Color is a good bet, coming in at $249.00. The majority of the pack tends to sit somewhere between the $300 to $600 mark. Apple iPad’s can range from $500 to up to $850. Of course, this is by no means the top of the pricing chart. We’ve seen tablets selling for $1800 or more. Heavy-duty specialty tablets can range even higher, as you can see in our series entitled “The Rougher Side of Tablets”.

Well, that does it for today. Stay tuned for more details in this exciting series.

See Also:

Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 1
Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 3
Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 4

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