I know, I know. The Kindle and Nook are the biggest things out there, as far as eReaders go. Or at least, that’s the impression you’d get from visiting Amazon.com or a Barnes and Noble retail store.
Neither of them are on this list, though, and here’s why: Because they can only buy games and apps from their respective catalogs, and nothing else. Most decent tablets can run not only Amazon’s apps but also the ones in the (much bigger) Google Play store, and on top of that they can read Kindle or Nook books as easily as installing an app. You can even get to the same libraries and bookmarks you had on your old eReader.
Here are the three eReaders you should be looking at:
The Nexus 7
“Nexus” sounds more like a gaming tablet, admittedly. And with a Tegra 3 processor (meaning it can play “Tegra HD exclusive” games and has improved graphics on others) plus support for Bluetooth controllers, it’s certainly good at that.
That’s not all it’s good at, though. It also happens to be as cheap as a Kindle Fire HD while also being much faster and more responsive, and able to read books from four major online stores: The Nook store, Kobo, Google Play books, and yes, even the Kindle’s. Besides that, it’s lighter, it has hundreds of thousands more apps available, and it can run all your Amazon apps as well. Plus, there’s a 3G option.
The downside? It’s a little more customizable (read: complex) than the Kindle, and Google’s probably set to announce its successor at Google I/O this May.
The Kobo Arc
Not too thrilled about Google’s stuff? Give the Kobo Arc a try. It’s the same size as the Nexus 7, although a bit heavier (and more durable). It doesn’t have Bluetooth or a Tegra 3 gaming processor, but aside from that it’s closely comparable to the Nexus 7, right down to what apps it can run and what books it can read. It also has Kobo’s “Tapestries” feature, which is sort of like Pinterest for your homepage. (Admittedly, it also helps Kobo make book recommendations for you.)
It doesn’t have a 3G option available, but it does come in sizes up to 64 GB, if you like to carry around lots of games, songs, or videos — ebooks take up very little space, and aren’t really a factor here. The downside? If you live in the States, you’ll need to buy it from an independent bookseller, although some do sell it online.
The iPad Mini
It’s like the original iPad, but small enough to use as an eReader. Its screen isn’t as sharp as the other two choices here, though, and it can’t run Amazon or Google apps — if you have games and apps from either store already, they won’t run on an iPad. Of course, the reverse holds true as well, so if you already use an iPhone or iPod the iPad’s a logical choice.
The iPad Mini has Nook, Kobo, and Kindle apps, plus Apple’s own iBooks store. iBooks only works on Apple devices, though, so you’re basically making a commitment to Apple by getting one. Plus, you can’t buy new books through the other stores’ apps, thanks to Apple’s policies; you’ll have to order them online instead.