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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tablet vs. eReader

What are the advantages of a Tablet over an eReader?

With the introduction of LCD Screen Color eReaders the waters of distinction between eReaders and Tablets have been muddied some. But there are still significant differences. Here are some of the major ones:

Pros for eReaders over Tablets

Print Legibility for Reading; Comfort Reading

eReaders are at this time primarily made for reading eBooks. Eink is a particularly inert print format for eReaders that is printed on a shaded light gray background. The techology is intended to make avid book readers feel as if they are reading a printed paper page. And there is no backlight required in the eReader. It works. There has been incredible growth in sales of eReaders using the format. Some new eReaders have entered the market using LCD screens. The LCD Screen eReaders sometimes have the ability to show color and will have the requisite drawbacks.

Tablets have bright colorful screens and the print is very legible, however may be slightly blurred on some Tablets.

Advantage eReaders

Eye Fatigue/Eyestrain

LCD screens can cause eyestrain or fatigue when reading for extended periods for two reasons: 1) the screen is backlit usually by very bright LED lighting which is a bit like shining a flashlight at your face, and 2) the refresh rate of an LCD screen which is refreshing 60 times a second means that it is literally flickering so fast you cant see it, but your eyes will know it over long periods of time.

As mentioned some new eReaders also contain LCD screens and they work the same way, so this category will depend on whether the eReader has an LCD screen or an eInk screen. Eink screens do not have backlighting or refresh rates so there is no eyestrain caused by these two factors.

Advantage: eReaders

Size and Weight; Comfort to hold

eReaders sometimes weigh as little as half a pound and are shaped like a thin book to allow for maximum reading comfort over extended periods. The iPad Tablet weighs a pound and a half, and while that's not too heavy, it's a much more unwieldy size device to hold with it's 12" height.

Advantage: eReaders

Battery Life

The iPad has 10 hours of battery life on its best day. The Nook Color eReader is stated at 8. Thus, the eReaders with LCD Screens and Tablets (which all have LCD screens) will be limited in battery life between charges. The eInk screens can deliver between 10 and 14 days of use without a charge if the Wifi function is turned off during the period. A 10 day charge could be cut to 3 if the Wifi function is left on.

Advantage: eReaders

Advantages of Tablets over eReaders

Color Screen​/ Childrens Books and Magazines

An eReader with an LCD Screen or a Tablet have color screens which allow for a wider variety of content display. Ereaders with eink only have monochrome display. In recent testing we found the video quality when scrolling of the iPad superior to other LCD screen Tablets and eReaders. This could be important for an activity like flipping through a magazine.

Advantage: Tablet (except for color LCD Screen eReaders)

Processing Power

Obviously with gaming, video, Apps, software programs, touch screen operation and so on, Tablets need a lot of processing power. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a 1 GHz Cortex A6 processor.

Advantage: Tablet

Memory/ Internal Storage

eReaders do not need much memory since eBook files are very small. A 4GB memory eReader will hold 3000 titles. Obviously, Tablets must contain much more memory due to use of color, photo storage, document files, videos, software applications, Apps, music and more. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has two choices for internal storage a 16GB and 32GB option.

Advantage: Tablets

Gaming/Software Apps

Touch screen tablets like the iPad are somewhat made for the flexibility of some touch screen gaming activities. The internal processors run these apps at lightning fast speeds. Ereaders do not have the capacity or processing power for or Apps.

Advantage: Tablets

Interface Operation

Tablets will generally be much more intuitive when it comes to the operation even when performing eBook reading such as quickly turning pages or skipping to another section in the eBook. Ereaders are not made with as smart operational features.

Advantage: Tablets


Though the Nook Color eReader does have an effective browsing feature, most eReaders have very rudimentary browsing function. Browsing the Internet is obviously one of the main functions of Tabets.

Advantage: Tablets

Photos and Videos

Displaying photos and videos are obviously one of the key attractions of the new Tablets. There is limited function for photos and videos on eReaders.

Advantage: Tablets


The most popular Wifi ready eReaders cost $139 to $149 compared to the least expensive Wifi ready iPad at $499.


It really depends on your situation or what you want to use the Tablet or eReader for. There are some excellent products in both categories. For the avid reader that wants an excellent reading device and potentially saving money on eBooks, the eReader may be your choice. For those wanting a living room device for the family to play games, access videos, listen to music, and do some magazine reading – the Tablet is probably your choice. For the added amount of flexibility, our editors think a Tablet is probably the better value.

By John Winger 

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