Posted January 7, 2014 by in New Technology

Color E-Reader Tablets

Electronic readers are now coming with full color, backlit screens, but are they any different from tablets like the iPad? Know the pros and the cons before you go shopping.

This article covers the most popular color e-readers: the Kindle Fire, the NookHD, and the Koboarc series.


Which Have Color?

The list of Kindles has grown and they now offer a line of four Kindle Fire tablets in various definitions and sizes. Only the Kindle Fire devices have color screens and are listed as “tablets” on the Amazon website. Barnes and Noble offer two e-readers in black and white, the Simple Touch and the GlowLight. The Nook HD and the Nook HD+ are the color e-readers, which are both larger in size than the previous two. Kobo e-readers are available in four full-color options that are listed as tablets; all are called Koboarc with a number after each one to signify its size in inches.


Why Choose Color?

Photo caption: Flickr user eBook Reader

If you’re using the e-reader mostly for reading e-books, don’t choose a color tablet. The only way for the device to display color is through an LED display much like a computer monitor. The backlit screens make it difficult to read for long periods of time and may tire the eyes more quickly than a black and white e-reader.

The color e-reader tablets would be a nice choice for graphic novel enthusiasts, digital cookbook users, or those who use their readers primarily for juvenile level picture books. Colors will come through crisp and clear while the books themselves will not wear down from frequent use, staying in pristine shape for years to come. Those who enjoy reading magazines will love the glossy, high-color image quality that only a device like this can offer.


Finding Books

Photo credit: Flickr user Raj Taneja

Another great advantage to the color e-readers is their ability to use application downloading. While traditional e-readers don’t allow you to download apps, all the color options have a Play Store (Nook and Kobo) or the Amazon store (Kindle only) where you can find new books, magazines, media files, and applications. The Overdrive app is a great place to start, giving you access to free e-books, songs, and movies as long as you have a library card and a nearby participating public library. You can also try accessing Project Gutenberg with your device’s web browser to download free e-books that have expired copyrights. You’ll love how magazines look on your color e-reader tablet and Zinio is fast becoming the easiest way to get them. Your local library may offer Zinio magazines for free, but they are also available for purchase through the downloaded app.


Internet Access

A traditional e-reader might have an experimental web browser, but doing a simple task like checking your email or looking up movie times will take a lot longer on a traditional e-reader. The color e-readers are like tablets in the way that they allow you to surf the net with ease.


All the Little Extras

Photo caption: Barnes & Noble

Photo caption: Barnes & Noble

So, here’s the real difference between a color e-reader tablet and a mini computer like an iPad, Nexus, or Samsung: the color e-readers are associated with companies that sell books, which gives you advantages when you inevitably purchase and download them.

A Barnes & Noble Nook will give you in-store perks while connected to their free wifi. Sometimes this is a free coffee and others it’s a coupon for a discount on books. They also let you read entire Nook books for free during the first hour of your connection. That means if you are already a frequent visitor to Barnes & Noble, you’ll get a bunch of free stuff for choosing to read a Nook in their store rather than an iPad.

The Amazon Kindle comes with its own online storage space for all your Amazon purchases that you can stream directly to their devices. Amazon users who have the Prime membership will want to choose a Kindle Fire because Prime members can stream a bunch of free shows and movies to their devices.

Not being a previously established behemoth company like B & N or Amazon, Kobo doesn’t have perks in the traditional sense, but you will have peace of mind knowing that the company is associated with the American Booksellers Association, which represents the independent bookstores of America. Check with your local independent bookstore to see if they have special offers for Kobo users.


Going shopping soon, or love the device you already have? Let us know in the comments below!

Lauren V. Bryant

Having studied library and information sciences in a graduate program at San Jose State University, Lauren is a professional librarian who has worked in school and public libraries. She currently works at a public library where she helps the public get e-books and other downloadables on their devices. Check out Lauren's website, http://www.LaurentheLibrarian.com/ for more book related articles and content. Check out all my articles.