Best E-Readers for Students
Any of the e-readers listed here will help you lighten your load, allowing you to ditch physical textbooks and store hundreds (even thousands) of digital tomes in one compact device. But some of these e-readers will make note-taking tasks easier than other models will.
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
The Nook Color may be an LCD tablet disguised as an e-reader, but it holds appeal for its reading-optimized design. The touchscreen is highly responsive, the graphics for shopping and navigation are terrific, and reading periodicals is a treat. Annotating selections is easy-peasy, too. Plus, you get the benefit of a Web browser, email, and a small selection of apps available through Barnes & Noble for use on this Android 2.2 tablet.
Barnes & Noble Nook
This Wi-Fi only refresh of Barnes & Noble's $139 E Ink reader adds a touchscreen for friendly navigation. Just tap or swipe to change pages--no buttons required. Taking notes is as simple as highlighting a selection with your finger, and tapping an annotation on the on-screen display. It's very lightweight, and it offers speedy page turns. Shopping from the reader is convenient. An added benefit: Like the Nook Color, the new Nook can read Epub files and PDFs, too.
Amazon Kindle 3G
Yes, Wi-Fi may seem ubiquitous on campus. But what if you want to download your next book while sitting by the duck pond? Or while you're on the bus to your next class? The $189 Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi + 3G provides a terrific E Ink Pearl display, high-quality text rendering, a light weight, and a simple-to-use keyboard. You can make notes and highlights using the five-way navigation controls, but the operation is a bit clunky. You can cut out the 3G and pay $139, or save $25 bucks over either version by picking up the Kindle with Special Offers (you sacrifice the at-rest wallpaper screen to advertisements hawking deals from Amazon and its partners). No Epub support here, though.
Amazon Kindle DX
Comparatively speaking, the Kindle DX remains expensive--$379 for a 9.7-inch E Ink e-reader, the same price as the least-expensive 10.1-inch Android tablet you can buy. But really, it remains a great choice if you plan to read a lot of material that's optimized for the large screen (say, textbooks as opposed to trade paperbacks). The DX is too heavy to hold in one hand, but it sure beats lugging around a 500-page tome.
Kobo eReader Touch Edition
The $129 Kobo Touch Edition is the most affordable of the current E Ink e-readers (at least, those that haven't given in to ads). The Touch Edition does fine for reading, if the books you seek are in the Kobo bookstore. The touchscreen works well, but text isn't quite as crisp as we'd like. The latest firmware update adds new fonts and fixes issues that we had with resizing text; plus, you can add your choice of fonts.
No, your eyes don't deceive you--we've listed a wickedly expensive ($499) Android 2.3 tablet here. The HTC Flyer gets the nod, though, because of one unique feature: the ability to input data with a pen to take notes. You might find pen input useful if you need to jot down formulas and the like, and you still want a small, digital device to read on. The screen is among the better ones we've seen, although it lacks any clear effort to minimize the reflection (as found on the Nook Color). And if you do want to use the pen, that will cost another $80.
Apple iPad 2
Honestly, once you start discussing LCD tablets as e-readers, you have to throw the Apple iPad 2 into the mix. All of the major digital booksellers offer apps for the iPad, and many of those let you easily make annotations. Plus, for your $499 entry price for a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad, you get so much more functionality, including email, Web surfing, and apps for everything from word processing to Facebook, Twitter, and games. Just don't count on using your iPad while stretched out on the campus lawn: In bright sunlight, its LCD becomes a reflective surface that makes reading a chore.