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So, here we are in part 3 of our Tablet Computer / eReader Comparison series. So far, we’ve compared and contrasted numerous features available for both eReaders and tablet computers. These have included the following:

  • The Screen / Readability
  • Battery Life
  • Price

If you’re new to Let’s Talk Tablets, or haven’t read parts 1 & 2, we suggest that you begin there. In these two articles, you’ll find in depth details and analysis of the key features shared by the two technologies. Also in these articles, we’ve compared and contrasted the features and how they are employed by each of the two technologies. Right now, we’re moving on to “versatility”. Please keep in mind that we’ll be referring to much of the information already covered in parts 1 & 2 of this series.

eReader Versatility

Here’s a wide-ranging rule of thumb; if you require versatility than you’re going to want a tablet. By and large, low-end eReaders ($150 or below) will be very limited in what they can do. Tablet computers on the other hand, are all about versatility. If and when deciding between the two technologies, you should make a list of the features you’ll absolutely require. To help you, we’ve listed many of the features that you may want to consider when choosing between the technologies. These are as follows:

  • The Operating System
  • Access to Social Networking
  • The Ability to Surf the Internet: Wi-Fi, 3G / 4G
  • The Ability to Check/Answer Email
  • The Ability to Download/Listen to Music
  • The Ability to Download/Watch Movies, TV Shows, etc.
  • The Ability to Download eBooks, Magazines, Periodicals, Newspapers, etc.
  • The Ability to Access YouTube Videos
  • The Ability to Make Skype Calls
  • The Availability of Games
  • The Availability of Apps
  • Colour vs. Garyscale Screen
  • Screen Size

If you’re confused by any of the aforementioned terms, you might want to check out our informative series of articles entitled “A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet PC for You”.

In Part 1 of our “Tablet Computer / eReader Comparison” we went into extensive detail about the display screens of both tablet computers and eReaders. One aspect we failed to mention was screen size.

By and large, eReaders tend to have smaller screens than those of tablet computers. While there is plenty of overlap in the middle, on average the screen size of a tablet PC will be larger than that of an eReader. Tablet computers typically come in one of two sizes, large and small. The larger format typically measures in at around 10” X 6-1/2”. The smaller format typically sits around 7” X 4”.

The display screens of eBook Readers tend to measure five to six inches in length. They will occasionally spill over into the seven-inch category, however these tend to be high-end eReaders, such as the Sony PRS-950SC Daily Edition Reader, and the Barnes & Noble Color Nook. Arguably, one could also add the Kindle Fire to this list, however it is technically classified as a tablet computer.

As mentioned in part 2 of this series, Amazon does offer a large grayscale eBook reader. This is the Kindle DX, which offers a whopping 9.7″ display, with diagonal E Ink Pearl technology. The Kindle DX also comes with free 3G, which segues quite nicely into our next topic:

Connectivity and the Ability to Surf the Internet

  • Wi-Fi
  • 3G / 4G
  • Bluetooth

eReaders with Wi-Fi

Most low-end eReaders ($100, or less) do not have built-in Internet connectivity. To download ebooks or novels the user must hook up their eReader to a computer, which in turn needs to be hooked up to the Internet. The eReader/computer connection is made via a USB cable.

Kindle brand eBook readers never require a USB cable. At minimum, Kindle eReaders come equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi enabled eReaders can wirelessly connect to the Internet, providing they fall within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Many other brands of eReaders also come equipped with Wi-Fi, however these units typically run in excess of $100.

The Kindle Touch 3G, and Kindle Keyboard 3G come with both Wi-Fi, and 3G. As mentioned earlier the Kindle DX comes with free 3G. In this case, Wi-Fi is no longer a requirement; therefore it’s not included with the DX.

3G and 4G eReaders

3G enabled eReaders can download eBooks, novels, newspapers, magazines, and periodicals from virtually anywhere. Anywhere there’s cell phone connectivity, the user can download reading material. Tablet computers may, or may not come with 3G.

3G provides mobile access to the Internet. The 3G system piggybacks on the existing network of cell phone towers. Besides providing cell phone service, the towers act a bit like giant Wi-Fi hotspots. This is how, and why it’s possible to gain access to the World Wide Web, even when on the move. In short, anywhere a cellular phone call can be made; you can also access the Internet.

4G is essentially 3G on steroids. It does all the same things, only a whole lot faster. If you’re uncertain as to whether you want 3G/4G, it’s essential to make this determination BEFORE making a purchase. 3G/4G is not something you can add after the fact. This capability is built right into the unit. In short, if you want mobile Internet access, you’ll have to seek out a tablet that is 3G/4G enabled. Most often, 3G/4G tablets are purchased through mobile telecommunication service providers, such as Bell, Verizon, TELUS Mobility, Rogers, etc. You get the idea.

eReaders with Bluetooth

So, Bluetooth. What the heck is Bluetooth?

According to Wikipedia:

Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances…

The definition goes on, but for our purposes, this description will do. So, why would you want to consider Bluetooth? Well, the inclusion of this technology will allow you to integrate a large number of Bluetooth accessories into an overall tablet/eReader system. In other words, you can wirelessly hook up accessories to your tablet computer or eReader. Common Bluetooth accessories include headsets, headphones, keyboards, etc. Yet, the list does not stop there. Logitech, for example recently introduced a Bluetooth mouse for Android 3.1 tablets. They also produce a highly portable, wireless USB speaker, called the Z515. Knowing human ingenuity, we’re certain that Bluetooth devices will continue to materialize, doing amazing, even unexpected things.

Once again, we’ve learned a lot in this session. Stay tuned for the conclusion of our Tablet Computer / eReader Comparison.

See Also:

Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 1
Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 2
Tablet PC and eReader Comparison Part 4

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