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Kindle vs. Nook: Comparing eBook Readers

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Interested in a new eBook reader? Not sure which model to buy? In this article, author Michael Miller compares the latest eBook readers from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and helps you decide which model is best for you.
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Printed books are so passé. It seems like everyone these days is reading electronic books (eBooks) on dedicated eBook reader devices. In the U.S., there are two primary brands of eBook readers—the Kindle line, sold by Amazon, and the NOOK line, sold by competitor Barnes & Noble. Both companies offer multiple models at multiple price points.

If you’re in the market for a new eBook reader, which model should you buy? Is an Amazon Kindle the way to go, or should you invest in a Barnes & Noble NOOK unit? Read on to learn more.

Comparing Basic Readers

eBook readers break down into three key types. First, there’s the basic reader, with a non-lit 6” E Ink display. Second, there’s the backlit type, which adds a backlit display. And finally, there’s the eBook tablet, which is more than just an eBook reader—it’s a full-fledged tablet with color LCD screen and the ability to run apps, play games, and surf the web, just like the iPad and similar tablets.

We’ll start our examination with the basic eBook reader category. The competitors here are the fifth -generation Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch.

Both of these units have 6” displays with 600 x 800 pixel resolution, or 167 pixels per inch (ppi). Both come with built-in Wi-Fi (for downloading new books), 2GB of internal storage (to store all the books you download), and a single-core 800MHz processor. That’s where the similarities end.

Figure 1 The fifth-generation Amazon Kindle eBook reader.

Of these two units, the Kindle is definitely a holdover from previous generations, whereas the NOOK is a true new-generation device. You can see this in the device’s operation; the NOOK features touchscreen operation, where the Kindle is not a touchscreen device. (Instead, you turn pages and such using dedicated hardware buttons beneath the screen.) The NOOK also gets about twice as much battery life as the Kindle—although it weighs about an ounce and half more, too.

Figure 2 The NOOK Simple Touch eBook reader, from Barnes & Noble.

When it comes to price, the NOOK is the better deal at a flat $79. Amazon advertises the Kindle for $69, but that’s for a model with “special offers”—that is, onscreen advertising. If you want a Kindle without the onscreen ads, you pay $89, or ten bucks more than the non-ad supported NOOK.

From strictly a hardware standpoint, then, the NOOK Simple Touch looks to be the better choice than the basic Kindle. Compare for yourself in the following table.

Basic eBook Readers


Kindle

NOOK Simple Touch

Manufacturer

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Price

$89 ($69 with ads)

$79

Screen size

6” diagonal

6” diagonal

Display type

E Ink Pearl

E Ink Pearl

Backlight

No

No

Display resolution (pixels)

600 x 800

600 x 800

Display resolution (pixels per inch)

167 ppi

167 ppi

Touchscreen

No

Yes

eBook formats supported

AZW, AZW3, MOBI, PDF, PRC, TXT

ePub, PDF

Battery life

1 month

2 months

Internal storage

2GB

2GB

Processor

800MHz single-core

800MHz single-core OMAP3621

Wi-Fi wireless connectivity

802.11b/g/n

802.11b/g/n

Weight

5.98 oz.

7.48 oz.

Dimensions

6.5” x 4.5” x 0.34”

6.5” x 5.0” x 0.47”

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