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December 2, 2014

8 e-reader gifts to captivate your Christmas

We've already recommended the books now how to read them from Kindle to Nook to Kobo.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Christmas is a time of year suited to curling up in front of the fireplace with a book in hand. Yet these days people are increasingly likely to be reading screens instead of print, and with the ebook market growing all the time, an e-reader has never been a more sensible purchase.

What distinguishes most e-readers from tablets is the use of e-ink to render text. While this method may be slower to load than an LCD screen it is much easier on the eyes -a fact you will appreciate after a few hours of solid reading.

Of course that leaves the question of which e-reader is most worthy of your money. With plenty to choose from, here is a review of the main players.

1. Amazon Kindle

Kindle is a term almost as ubiquitous in digital publishing as iPod has become in digital music, and for good reason. The series of e-readers now come in three different varieties, with each step in price coming with better resolution and more features.

The ordinary Kindle is e-reading at its most basic, with free Wi-Fi, plenty of battery life and a touchscreen. The Paperwhite is almost double the price, but adds a backlight and the option of a 3G connection, while the Voyage has more intuitive page turning buttons and an adaptive front light.

2. Nook GlowLight

This offering from booksellers Barnes & Noble is matched pretty evenly with Kindle Paperwhite, the middle child of Amazon’s e-reader family. Yet a greater memory, in-store support and slightly better price might convince some, as will the white design.

3. Bookeen Cybook

Unaffiliated to any bookstore, the Cybook series allows users to browse any online store for the best book prices. It also features an intuitive way of reading PDF documents, and an existing library of books to get you started.

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As for the various versions, they run the gamut of cheap to expensive, with each of the five versions offering a little more. At the most basic is the Muse Essential, complete without a light, and the super-sized Ocean measuring in at a screen size of eight inches.

4. Ectaco jetBook

The jetBook series was originally designed for educational audiences, and as such is one of the few vendors to boast a colour e-ink screen. The drawback is that colour comes at a brutal price, more familiar to those purchasing tablets than those opting for e-readers.

Another flaw is the lack of a dedicated ebook store, leaving users to manually download purchases from the likes of Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Yet unlike its rivals the jetBook features a graphing calculator, as well as an audiobook reading feature.

5. Kobo

Kobo has a generous range of devices for you to buy, alongside a well equipped e-book library, and as such has established itself as one of the most promising competitors in this market.

The Kobo Mini covers the small end of the market, at just five inches and with no front light. Kobo Glo turns the lights back on at a slightly greater price, while the expansive Kobo Aura H2O can even survive being thrown into a swimming pool – making it ideal for family use.

6. Onyx BOOX

Onyx is a lesser known e-reader vendor, but contains a wealth of features that makes its products more interesting than some of its rivals. Customers can not only use of many of the features present on the likes of Kindle, but can also access of a more intuitive PDF reading experience.

All editions of Onyx BOOX also have a SD card slot for expanding memory – although since many of its competitors can hold thousands of books it is hard to see why this would be useful. More impressive is the inclusion of a headphone jack, speakers and the ability to access other vendors’ ebook stores on the more expensive versions.

7. PocketBook

Like others on this list, PocketBook has a range of e-readers from cheap to expensive. Basic 2, the simplest, does not even include a touchscreen, while the most expensive edition Ultra comes with file transfer and networking utilities already installed on the device.

More inventive still is the CoverReader, a smartphone accessory that clips to your mobile like a case, flipping open to reveal an e-ink screen. Using it you can enjoy reading on a comfy screen without having to carry an extra device.

8. TrekStar Pyrus

Another smaller vendor in the e-reader market, TrekStar offers two versions, with Pyrus being a simple button-operated e-reader akin to the original Kindle, while Pyrus 2 includes lighting. Other than a cheaper price there is little to differentiate either edition from the competition.

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