Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Gadget Guide, Part II: Quinton’s Take

So you’re looking to purchase a magical piece of gadgetry for a certain someone on your list—yourself, perhaps—but you’re not sure what to get. I feel your pain. Choosing the right gadget is tricky, because there’s so much out there.

As someone obsessed with technology—and someone who gets to play with the latest eReading devices every day—I certainly have my preferences. I can’t guarantee every tech-lover will agree with me, but I can give you the skinny on a few very solid devices.  (Keep in mind: preference often outweighs performance, so take this guide less as a decree on what to buy, and more as a set of well-researched suggestions.)

Google Nexus 7
For reading eBooks, the Nexus 7 is my first choice.  For $199, you get a good screen, 16GB of memory, and a full-featured tablet. The Nexus 7 has higher pixel density (216 ppi) than an iPad Mini (163 ppi), which makes it a good choice for reading at this size. It’s also narrower than the iPad Mini, so I find it easier to hold and store in a pocket.  Best of all, it’s $130 cheaper than the iPad Mini. I think you’re seeing where I’m going with this…For $199, the Nexus 7 offers the most bang for your buck, which is why it’s my first choice.
Google Nexus 10

Google Nexus 10
Yes, another Nexus. This one starts at $399 and also represents a great value.  The Nexus 10 has the highest pixel density of any 10-inch tablet, which makes for an absolutely gorgeous screen. In fact, at 300 ppi, it beats the iPad’s “retina” display. The Nexus 10 is perfect for users who prefer a bigger screen, and it’s $100 less than the fourth-generation iPad.  Did I mention that the screen is beautiful?

Apple iPad with Retina Display
Ranking the iPad third on the list may seem like an egregious error, but hear me out. The fourth-generation iPad is a great device. It has a killer screen (264 ppi), it’s fast, and it boasts the best battery life in the tablet market. But the Nexus 10 has an even better screen, is fast, boasts a decent battery life, and costs $100 less than the iPad. If you’re already deep into the Apple ecosystem (apps, iTunes, etc.), go with the iPad. Otherwise, I’d personally pick the Nexus 10.
Microsoft Surfact RT

Microsoft Surface RT
As we’ve discussed, the Surface RT is a very powerful tablet. It has a very  nice screen (though not as nice as the Nexus 10 or the iPad), it’s fast and responsive, and in terms of productivity, it blows every other tablet out of the water. The Surface RT comes with Microsoft Office built-in, though I must say the keyboard attachment is only decent. As a device for consuming media, however, the Surface RT leaves me a little cold. Yes, the screen is good, but it’s also kind of big—a  little too unwieldy for things like reading an eBook in bed. The extra screen real estate does make for more productive multitasking, though.  The build quality seems pretty fantastic, with the magnesium alloy and Gorilla Glass—heck, Steven Sinofsky rode a custom Surface skateboard around the office.  The Surface RT is perfect for the productive, office-centric techie.

Apple iPod touch
If you want something smaller and more portable than a tablet, the iPod touch is where it’s at.  A lot of people call it an iPhone without the phone parts—and they’re mostly right.  The iPod touch looks fairly similar and works pretty much the same as an iPhone.  It’s a great little media player, and its portability makes it ideal for audiobooks. The screen is large enough for reading eBooks in a pinch. The only downside is the cost—pretty expensive $299. For $100 less, you could buy a Nexus 7.
NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight

NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight
The name is a mouthful, but as we mentioned last week, the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight is pretty sweet. It’s basically a NOOK Simple Touch that lights up for nighttime reading. I’ve found the Simple Touch line of NOOKs to be my favorite of the E Ink variety. They’re responsive, they don’t give me seizures when I turn the page, and the display is crisp. At $119, the price is a little steep. Or you can get the Simple Touch (without the light) for $79. Personally, I’d rather spend the extra money and get a nice tablet for $199. You can do a lot more with a full-fledged tablet, like download eBooks and audiobooks directly. To get library eBooks on a NOOK Simple Touch, you must transfer the files from a computer. But, if E Ink is your thing, you can’t go wrong with a Simple Touch with GlowLight.

By Quinton Lawman a technical writer at OverDrive.

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