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by JB Burke

Q: I want a book reader, like a Kindle or a Nook, but I wonder if perhaps I would be better off with a tablet computer. It would be more flexible and expandable. What are the issues I should consider?

A: Both Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Nobel Nook are fine book readers, and there are many models of each. And they have become cheaper and more functional over time. If you are only going to read books, I'd suggest one of these: the Kindle Paperwhite (high resolution and built in light for night reading) or the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight (also a low-light reading feature). They are priced about the same, have 7" screens, and are light and small enough to carry in a purse or large pocket. Each can carry many books for light travel and ease of use.

If you think you might want to branch out to web browsing, watching movies, or running any of the countless apps that are available for Android devices, then you might want to look at the Google Nexus 7 (more flexible than the Kindle or Nook), the Nook HD or the Kindle Fire HD. These also have 7" screens, so they are light and easy to carry. You can read books on them, as well as run various apps, watch movies, etc.

And if you want a bigger screen, there are many more choices again. There are 8.9" and 10" screens models from several manufacturers, including Apple (iPad, the original), ASUS (Transformer), Samsung (Galaxy Note), and Sony (Tablet S). Of course these are more expensive than the 7" models, and some can be outfitted with external keyboards for typing documents and spreadsheets, if you need to do that kind of thing. These then become heavier and less convenient to carry, but still much lighter than a typical laptop.
I'd suggest that you do a web search for topics like "best book readers" or "review tablet computers". It's best to add "2012" to the search, so you don't end up with old info. This market segment is moving fast.

Published: Courier 10/21/12 - Page 3C