This is one of the oldest debates in consumer electronics. E-readers are dedicated devices for reading e-Books while Tablets are essentially a cross-breed between a smartphone and a laptop. For tablets, their ability to function as e-Readers is an added bonus. I could go on and on about the comparison between the two sets of products. But for today I will focus on one particular aspect namely which of the two is better for reading and protecting your eyes.
How often do you read books and How long?
Dedicated e-book readers have longer battery life over all compared to tablets. So if you read often and read for hours, it might be a good idea to invest in a reliable e-book reader. Otherwise your tablet is a perfectly good substitute.
Is reading in color important?
Most e-book readers are greyscale or black on a white or grey background to simulate an actual page of a book. For traditional readers this is a boon because the act of mimicking a physical book bridges the technology gap for these people. The drawback is that some people prefer to read in color and only very high end readers can do that. At that price point you might as well use a tablet.
Type of Books Read
E-readers are best for fiction and text books where there are few pictures. Since all they do is print text this is what they are suited for. If your typical reading list has books which have lots of graphics then go for a tablet.
LCD Screen or e-Ink
Most e-readers use a technology called e-Ink where the screen is actually a black sheet with the text virtually printed via e-Ink. The ‘sheet’ can then be backlit or front lit depending on the model. The net effect is like literally looking at a page in a book with a light source making the text bright enough to read.
Compare this to LCD screens used by tablets. LCD or Liquid Crystal Display is not unlike the technology used for laptops and monitors.
The jury is still out as to which display method causes more eye strain but for those who use computers or laptops for work it may be excessive for them to use an LCD based reader for their leisure reading so they might want to stick with an e-Reader.
For Tablets Wi-Fi and even 3G or 4G internet access is almost standard in e-readers, Wi-Fi is usually a premium feature and non-Wi-Fi internet access is practically unheard off. For true e-reader fans this probably doesn’t matter. Since an e-reader can store hundreds if not thousands of books there is no reason for them to resort to the internet to get new material to read. But for some people it might be worthwhile to go-online and purchase books. Still since e-Readers can do the trick then if they have Wi-Fi.
Focus on Reading
Eye strain is a function of doing the same mechanical function constantly in unfavorable conditions for example reading off a tablet or e-reader for hours on end without respite will doubtless result in eye-strain. Most people avoid this by taking breaks. After about an hour they stop and do something else.
This is where the tablet might have some advantages. Aside from internet access Tablets can have apps and games which can entertain the user while he is taking a break. But to be honest this can be a bit counter-productive since the reason you are taking a break is because you don’t want to strain your eyes.
At the end of the day the e-reader is better for purely reading purposes. This is reinforced by the fact that e-Ink and similar display systems are less stressful to the eyes when reading over long periods.