eBook formats. All of the models featured will support multiple eBook formats, but in reality there's only two that we need to consider for most purposes. Amazon devices read their own propriety format AZW, which is a permutation of the MOBI format and in fact the Kindle will read both of these. What it won't read is the EPUB format, which is the industry standard and the one used by all of the other eReaders featured in this article which, in turn, will not read the Amazon format. If it wasn't for the phenomenal success of the Kindle the only format anyone would bother about is the EPUB, however nobody can afford to discount the Amazon standard.
Verdict: Format choices determine whether you are with Amazon or not. If you choose Amazon you can still buy many of the books currently listed on Amazon through Smashwords in the MOBI format, however you will have to transfer them across from a PC manually.
Connectivity. All of the models here can connect to the internet wirelessly. Two of the Kindle devices can also connect using 3G, you pay a premium for the facility, but it is a one-off cost. All have USB or micro USB connectivity and allow your to connect your eReader to a computer to transfer eBooks.
Verdict. 3G connectivity sounds useful, but probably isn't that important to most people, however is essential to anyone who wants an eReader but doesn't want or cannot get WiFi. The 3G variants push the price up so high it becomes a marginal call whether to buy a tablet instead.
Price. This is a moving feast as the three companies attempt to stay competitive. Also, there can be variations between different retailers, so shop around. In ascending price order, here are the prices for the models discussed so far: Kobo Mini - £60; Basic Kindle - £69; Nook Simple Touch - £79;Kobo Touch - £80; Kobo Glolight - £100; Nook Simple Glowlight - £109; Kindle Paperwhite - £109; Kindle 3G - £149; Kindle Paperwhite 3G - £169
Verdict: The smallest and most lightly loaded model is also the cheapest, so at least that's fair enough. The two 3G models are the two most expensive by a large margin. They may suit some buyers, but most people would be better considering a full blown mini tablet instead when considering paying that much. The rest of the models sit in a £30 band. It looks like Kobo have the edge, financially, for the lit versions and Amazon are leading the fiscal pack for the unlit versions, but don't forget that the basic Kindle isn't touch screen. For the basic unlit touch screen race there's only £1 between the Nook and the Kobo, so the look and feel of the one you favour has to be worth more than that difference.
Final verdict. Cheap and cheerful, mid priced and top end costs, the dedicated eReaders have competition at every step of the way. My advice is to decide on the band you want to go for and then compare the actual models in your hands. Aesthetics, as with all devices these days, is a personal but critical consideration. And don't forget to watch out for discounting - the competition over the next few weeks is likely to be fierce.
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