Is the Amazon Kindle Fire the EReader for You?

Kindle FireKindle Fire
Courtesy of Amazon
I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but expect to see a time -- in the next five years or so -- that you and your kids will devour books solely on an e-reader and not on paper. Sure, there will still be board books and novels floating around, but let's face facts: It's an e-reader world and you will eventually want to invest in one of the modern models if you haven't already.

That said, do you need to jump on board now? And which e-reader is best for you? If you do any reading on your iPad or tablet, you're probably safe. Tablets offer an excellent reading experience that will only get better with time.

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Still not convinced? Consider a cheaper e-ink device. These are small and extremely portable -- they're perfect for reading on the beach, for example -- and are a way to dip your toe into the e-reader market.

No matter what you think about e-books now, if you're still buying paperbacks and plowing through massive novels in paper form, you're going to want to go digital. I know, I know -- paper smells, feels, and works great. But believe me, there will be a time when it goes away, just as vinyl, cassettes, and VHS tapes did. Try to tell a kid about the visceral feeling of driving down to the record store, cracking open an LP, reading the liner notes, and then listening to the entire thing on your hi-fi with a pair of headphones. They'll wonder why you didn't just connect to iTunes.

Here are some of the latest e-readers out there. Trust me: once you go digital, you'll never go back.

For the Bargain Hunter:

Courtesy of AmazonCourtesy of Amazon

The Kindle Touch - $99 with special offers. At $99, the Kindle Touch is $300 less than the original Kindle and packs quite a few features into a tiny case. The Touch has a bright, usable touchscreen and a single button to bring you back home -- that's it. It's thin enough to lose in a purse or briefcase and lasts for almost a month on one charge. Amazon is offering a special discount on this Kindle because it shows ads for items you may like right on the screen when the device is turned off.

Courtesy of Barnes & NobleCourtesy of Barnes & Noble

The Nook Simple Touch - $99. The Nook Simple Touch is similar to the Kindle version, but Barnes & Noble has avoided plastering the device with ads and the new operating system is slightly faster than Amazon's. If you're a B&N fan, this is the one for you. Otherwise, it's a toss up between the Kindle and the Nook.

For the Media Lover:

The Kindle Fire - $199. The new Kindle Fire has 8GB of on-board storage -- not nearly enough for the average media user -- but Amazon has a trick up its sleeve. The Fire is sort of an Amazon services Trojan Horse, designed to slurp up video and audio from the company's own store. Folks are seeing excellent performance in video and reading, although the device doesn't have a video chat camera, a feature that makes more expensive e-readers more compelling.

Courtesy of Barnes & NobleCourtesy of Barnes & Noble

The Nook Tablet - $249. The B&N Nook Tablet is a bit pricier but is more about reading and apps than multimedia consumption -- though it's no slouch in that category, either. A good, all-around tablet/reader, the Nook Tablet should drop in price over the next few months and is still an interesting device for B&N fans.

For the Technophobe:

Courtesy of Barnes & NobleCourtesy of Barnes & Noble

The Nook Color - $199. If you have a book lover who might be a bit confused by higher-end devices, why not look at the Nook Color? One of the more popular "color" e-readers, this is actually a tablet with special software that will walk any neophyte through buying, downloading, and reading content without much fuss. It's great for magazines, too.

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For the Contrarian:

Courtesy of KoboCourtesy of Kobo
The Kobo Vox - $199. There are certain folks out there who want to swim against the current. Kobo has e-readers for them. These models are a bit less popular but still support a few major content stores and let you read almost anything you load onto them, including PDFs.

Do you own an e-reader? Which one is your favorite?


Written by John Biggs on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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