In which you specify my next technology purchase

Rightie ho.

So, who has a Kindle? Or a tablet? Wifie wants one and I\’m thinking about maybe getting something similar.

So, here\’s the background.

1) For wife. It\’s books she\’s most interested in. But maybe movies and games as well. This argues for something more than just a basic Kindle.

2) For me. Books only. So perhaps just a Kindle or a paperwhite or something.

Here\’s the other stuff. We\’ll not be able to use the \”free\” 3G connections: don\’t exist here in Portugal. We already have easy access to the web (each a computer). We\’ve also each got wi-fi available. So that\’s easy, we don\’t need any 3 G of browsing capability. Not really.

Looking around at everything else: iPads are waaaay too expensive. When books are the main object anyway, it\’s just too much.

But it it\’s just books, is there a better option than the Kindle? The Nexus? Some other kit maker? Or is Amazon offering pretty much the best deal.

And here\’s the real point. We\’re both avid readers but we live in a non-English speaking country. And I\’m going to be travelling a lot next years to two other such non-English speaking countries.

It just seems simpler to buy a slate/tablet and gain access to e-books than it does to buy and ship physical ones from the same source.

So, what should the actual hardware choice be? Books, as above, being the main desire.

45 thoughts on “In which you specify my next technology purchase”

  1. The Kobo Mini is a pretty good e-reader – will just do books in black & white, and has a wi-fi connection.

    For playing videos and/or listening to music, I’d suggest either the Google Nexus 7, the Kobo Arc or the Kindle Fire HD. They’re all priced fairly similarly, assuming you go for the non-3G, wi-fi only model – around about the £160 mark.

  2. For you: The cheapest ad-supported Kindle. Nice and small. Cheap, so you won’t really care if you crack the screen. Wifi so you can buy books when you’re on the road.

    I’d get one of those first & you & your wife can both try it; she can see if she wants one of those plus a tablet, or just the Kindle, or just a tablet.

    Unless you have a UK credit card, you’ll be compelled to use the site for your purchases.

  3. I love my Kindle (keyboard type with 3g) – it’s made me rediscover the joy of reading. The battery life is a major advantage also. I usually get around 2-3 weeks on a charge. A caveat though is that if you like to read books with diagrams, maps, pictures – then these can be hard to make out clearly. I have resorted to printing out equivalent reference maps as a companion to my reading, when the one provided in the ebook is hard to see.

  4. For me, definitely the iPad mini.

    It has the Kindle app so you can read all the Kindle books you’ve every bought and it has great web browsers and so much more.

    It is about the size of a largish paperback and very light. I sold my full sized iPad and use this full time.

  5. What’s your time-cost for researching the best option? Might as well just buy the basic seventy quid Kindle and be done with it – it’s a pretty decent bit of kit, and apart from all the dodgy Chinese knock-offs out there it’s about the cheapest. They also appear to be the most robust of the Kindles, judging by the number of ads for flashier models with broken screens.

  6. For you – I’d just buy a cheap e-ink wifi Kindle. They work pretty well. Also e-ink has a massive battery life and you can read books in sunlight, which is something I presume you have in Portugal 😉

    If you’re more technically-inclined you can get yourself an e-ink Nook and root it – they run a locked down Android and doing this will unlock them and allow you to run all the major ebook vendors’ software on it, so you get a Nook reader app, a Kindle reader app etc. However it would be a bit fiddly and would probably void any warranty.

    For her – rather than one of the Kindle tablets, I’d get a Nexus 7. It’s a better tablet for the money, and you can download the Kindle app from the Google Play app store anyway making it functionally pretty much the same. No point in getting an iPad mini unless you’re particularly attached to Apple’s ecosystem, as it’s more expensive.

  7. I have access to both a tablet (well, its a Galaxy Tab 10, so possibly in your “too expensive” category) and a basic Kindle. The tablet is massively more functional, but if all you want to do is read books the Kindle is massively more portable: slimmer and lighter and with an enormous effective battery life.

  8. For just books the kindle works out best. Battery life and being able to read an ‘almost’ paper quality screen makes it a lot better than a tablet for reading.

    For a tablet, it depends if you have an itunes account with stuff you want to use. If so, ipad mini, if not the nexus is slightly better.

  9. For the tablet option, Blackberry Playbook is currently a bargain, and a very well built item as well. We were going to get a Nexus 7 for my wife, but switched to the Playbook when we could get more memory for not much more than half the price.

    For what you want yourself, I’d guess a good e-ink reader (Kindle, Kobo, Nook) for the battery life, especially while travelling: I use my phone as a mobile library, but the battery didn’t survive the Muscat-Bahrain-Heathrow-home shuttle even from a full charge.

  10. I have both an iPad and Kindle Keyboard 3G. Fo reading books and nothing more, the Kindle is brilliant: slim, light, easy to hold, very long battery life, can be read in sunlight, and I bought the leather cover with light so I can also read in the dark. One of the best things I’ve bought. The comment @3 regarding the maps and diagrams is true, though.

    I’d pay the extra for the 3G just for when you travel somewhere else. It’s not much more, and can come in very handy when stuck somewhere.

  11. For you:

    Kindle – paperwhite I guess. The battery life’s terrific. One proviso: if you plan to read papers, academic papers, perhaps in PDF form, you may want a large tablet, in which case the Nexus 10.

    For the Mrs:

    Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire. The Fire will give better integration with the Amazon store if that makes much difference and while you have the Kindle app on the Nexus, it doesn’t manage collections – all your books will be displayed in a long list (download, in the cloud, or all) – I don’t find that a problem at all.

  12. Tablets are really laptop replacements. You still need a laptop, but the tablet is good for reading the web from the sofa.

    Whether you get a tablet or not, Kindles are so cheap you should get one anyway. I have the non-keyboard version. My mum’s have a keyboard but never uses it, nor the 3G. I’m not sure whether the newer models are necessary: the one with the backlight looks nice. But you can get the one I’ve got in perfect condition from eBay for about £50.

  13. Don’t wish to rain on your parade, but if you like being able to KEEP the books, like forever, you want to beware. There have been recent cases of stuff just vanishing from Kindle because of the way it’s loaded and there is seriously stuff all you can do about it.

  14. Aren’t Kindle-type things and a tablet-type (or ipad) things fundamentally different technology?

    Tablet / ipad having an lcd screen like a laptop, Kindle-type things being something actually different that is supposed to be easier on the eye and better to read in sunlight, plus longer battery life.

    Is that actually true or just marketing blurb?

  15. 2James>

    I noticed the second-hand prices as well. Considering they’re only £69 new, it says a lot that an electronic device holds its value so well.

  16. I second the Playbook suggestion – £130 ish for the 64gig version, and lovely to use, especially if you want movies/tv and aren’t bothered about apps (not great, even though you can sideload some android stuff).
    I’d also go for the Kindle – and with not too much fiddling you can install another OS alongside Amazon’s called duokan which has better format support (like epub and much better pdf capability).

  17. Others have covered the recommendations so I will skip that.

    Assuming you both get a Kindle then consider how you plan to set up the Accounts. My wife and I both buy books for the Kindle on the joint bank account which is registered with one name on Amazon. This means that the Account holder can download the same book to multiple devices. Now this might not be important to you – you and your wife might like totally different books.

    However there is no way to share books or give them to another person

  18. the most important thing is:

    buy 2 devices.

    get yourself a Kindle Paperweight, or similar, because that’s all you want.

    get your wife a tablet for watching movies etc. – you will find yourself browsing internet etc. on it too because it’s quicker to use than your computer. I’d say, it’s only money, get an iPad, but otherwise Galaxy or Nexus all much of a muchness.

  19. I agree with everyone above.

    I’ve had an iPad to since it came out and couldn’t live without it. However, it is absolutely awful for reading books on. Too heavy, and the screen resolution/backlight is painful especially for anyone with eye problems. Also, the iTunes Store is a complete dog’s breakfast. It desperately needs a conceptual overhaul.

    My little Kindle, however, is wonderful. Easy on the eye. Light as a feather. A charge lasts for ever. The sync across devices feature on the Kindle is wonderful. If I’m reading a book is available on my phone, iPad, Kindle and iMac, and as I move between these four devices it remembers where I was and turns to the relevant page.


    The only downside is the availability of books on Kindle. I seem to be running at about fifty percent strike rate for books I want to read. I’m in publishing myself, and I’m constantly amazed that books I want to read don’t exist on the Kindle. I want to phone up the publishers and slap them down the phone.

  20. I just bought a samsung galaxy note 10.1 wifi only (android 4).
    £268 from john lewis (inc 50 cashback), this is a fantastic deal for a tablet on par with the ipad . The smart pen included with it is quite amazing; character regognition has moved on a lot.

    I mailed some technical A4 pdfs to my kindle account and could read them two minutes later. I have a standard kindle but it is totally unsuitable for pdfs in general, a4 in particular.

    The gps is also impressive

  21. I agree with Trobbo – the Kindle made me rediscover the joy of reading. I had the Kindle 4, non-touch (I don’t like the idea of getting fingerprints on the screen!). It was cheap enough that when I accidentally sat on it I didn’t shed too many tears. I wouldn’t have felt the same about an iPad!
    The Kindle will go everywhere with you: on trains, on planes, on holiday, or just into the garden. The iPad will sit at home next to the TV so you can surf the Internet during ad breaks.
    I haven’t tried non-Kindle e-books, but there’s no compelling reason not to go with the industry leader.

  22. for you – a Kindle; I have a Touch 3G and it’s just about my favourite bit of technology ever, particularly when combined with Calibre to load other formats onto it.

    for your wife – a Nexus 7. Unbelievably stonking value for the performance

  23. Get something with Android, its based on the linux kernel so it shits on anything else.

    Samsung’s brolly the best bet

  24. Kindle. Worth getting the 3G Kindle – it can also use GPRS, which Portugal must surely have. Handy when sitting out a power cut in Lagos or just can’t be bothered to get off the Sun lounger!

  25. For reading, definitely the basic Kindle. £69 at the moment.

    Check EBay for kindle books, you can get thousands of titles on a CD for around a fiver.

    You won,t be interested in all of the titles but, at that price you can’t go wrong

  26. “We’ll not be able to use the “free” 3G connections: don’t exist here in Portugal.”

    I’m sure the 3G Kindle will download books and newspapers in Portugal – via GPRS if not 3G – as it does in The Gambia, Greece, Spain…Moreover, I agree with TN @ 10: 3G is more convenient than wifi, as you can download without having to locate a wifi service.

  27. I do love my Kindle for reading – I never ever believed that if I had the same book in physical and ebook form that I’d read the ebook by preference.

    However – any e-ink ebook reader would be as good, and the Kobo and other e-ink readers that support epub directly are compatible with OverDrive elibraries – which are fairly common around the UK. Since getting a tablet, I’ve joined the local county libraries wherever I’ve worked (the range of books is much larger that way): I’m now a member of Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Swindon, Dorset, West Berkshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire libraries (all legitimately); all of which have their own range of ebooks to borrow. Legally and legitimately. It’s great.
    The only downer is that Amazon refuse to let the Kindle support Overdrive.

  28. For what your wife wants – books, movies and games there’s only one choice the Google Nexus 7.

    The Kindle Fire is heavy, slow, uninspiring and can’t really hold a candle to the Nexus 7.

    For you, if you just want books, then the regular Kindle. However, if you want books and a more general purpose device i.e browsing catching up on e-mail. Then I’d recommend the Google Nexus 7 as well.

    Tying yourself into the Kindle or Kindle fire, even with the book usage focus, seems to me like a bad move when the market is moving so fast and new products and capabilities are opening all the time.

  29. Would definitely recommend the kindle non touch version. As a fast reader you don’t want to be messing around moving your hand off the buttons to swipe.

    I also agree with James James, Calibre is an excellent ebook repository, handling conversions between different formats automatically, makes it easy to sort and search books and load up on your machine.

  30. Samsung Galaxy 10 inch tablet – Does Kindle (&/or other ebook formats), web, movies, telly, basic word processing and spreadsheets if you want, pretty much anything a laptop can. Typing this on mine at the moment. Wouldn’t be without it.

    Don’t bother with the 3G you can tether it to a mobile, if you have data on one.

  31. I have an ipad 1. Not as useful as a laptop but great for Eurosport or movies in bed or on the train. It is also great for reading pdfs in bed – you need to prop it up on your chest as it is not as light as a book.

    I used to take it with me on business trips but now take my ultralight windows laptop.

    My wife absolutely loves her ipad 3 for accessing email and the web from the comfort of the sofa or checking recipes when she is cooking. I resisted buying it for her as a b’day pressie because of the price but I tell you that she is so happy with it that it was worth it.

    She also reads a kindle in bed.

  32. I have both a Kindle Keyboard and a Google Nexus 7 and recommend both of them highly. For reading books, nothing (and I mean nothing) beats an e-ink display.

    The battery life is superb as well.

    You can’t go wrong with the Kindle for the money and some models (e.g. mine) can also read to you via Text-to-Speech and have a built-in web browser for text sites, (no Flash, animation, etc.).

    A tablet is a different animal altogether. Buy the Nexus 7 for a medium sized tablet or an iPad 2 for a full-sized tablet.

  33. Lots of people are recommending the Nexus 7, which is the same size as the iPad mini. Good for books, maybe, but surely if you wanted something like an iPad you’d go for the Nexus 10?

  34. I agree with trobbo that maps and diagrams are difficult on the Kindle – the page is far too small.

    Another point: I emailed a pdf book to my Kindle and found the print was too small for comfort: the page size again. However, using the Kindle app on the iPad it was easy to read.

  35. Assuming your wife reads a fair bit, get kindles for both of you, plus a tablet device for her for the other functions.

    Tablets are no good for reading sessions due to poor battery life. Also it’s much more pleasant to read outside on a kindle than on a tablet in terms of sun glare- something which may be a factor in sunny Portugal

  36. I’ve got two Kindles (spoils of running a transient barracks for the military – left behind gear I couldn’t get back to the owners).

    And all I use is the the Kindle app on my smartphone.

    Its just another gadget to haul around – I always have my phone, but wouldn’t always carry the Kindle.

    If all you did was read books and traveled to places without reliable power it may be a good choice.

  37. Word of warning, Kindles are crap at reading PDFs, the Kindle3 was poor and the Kindle Touch is even worse. For regular e-books they cannot be beat, especially if you don’t like daily recharging.

    Alternatives; don’t get a Kindle Fire when you can get a Nexus 7.

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