Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Staff Council

Tablets and Kindles and Nooks oh my!

Posted on May 8, 2012

E-readers and tablets are currently one of the most sought after technologies. While initially these devices served very different purposes, thanks to developments on both sides the line between e-readers and tablets is getting blurred. Amazon recently launched the Kindle Fire which is a full color tablet version of their e-book reader and Nook Tablet (as the name suggests) is a hybrid between a tablet and an e-reader.

One thing that sets traditional e-readers apart from a tablet is e-ink. The “E” stands for electrophoretic and is essentially electronic paper. E-ink appeals to many consumers because it uses less power (letting you use it longer in between charges) and the display is easier on the eyes than the LCD display typical of tablets. Now in it’s third stage of development e-ink has progressed beyond simple black and white to including color display on some models (the Kindle Fire which has full color does not use e-ink but a traditional LCD display).  While e-ink might let you use your e-reader on the beach glare free, you won’t fare as well in the dark.  However NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight which comes out May 7, has an e-ink display and GlowLight which adds enough backlight for you to read in the dark.

Another substantial difference between traditional tablets and e-readers? Price. The new iPad retails for $499 and a now “old” iPad 2 will set you back $399. Compare that to a Kindle Fire which has a 7” display (compared to iPad’s 10”) but comes in at a comparatively thrifty $199.  A traditional Kindle or the NOOK Simple Touch start to seem like a bargain at only $79 each. When it comes to tablets, Apple may be dominating, but it’s certainly not the only game in town. While the battery life, availability of apps, and “coolness factor” of iPads make them the most popular, there are a few other tablets that have features you may want.

Galaxy Tabs from Samsung can use 4G network (iPads can’t) meaning you’ll have more connectivity for your device, no matter where you are! The Samsung Tab with a 10” display retails for $549 and is actually so similar to an iPad that Samsung was sued by Apple for violating their intellectual property. Android’s tablet Thrive has a full size USB port and a SD slot for memory cards making it easier to share and store information. There are some other interesting innovations you can expect to see coming soon, like a “wedge” design meant to mimic an opened magazine, and a tablet with dual screens (both from Sony).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on a Nook you can check one out from the Wallace Library. They have six Nook Colors that circulate to students, faculty, and staff.

Lauren Slingluff
Social Sciences Liaison
Library Information Services

Comments are closed.