An e-reader, or "e-book reader," is a portable hardware device designed for reading digital publications. These include e-books, electronic magazines, and digital versions of newspapers. Since textual data does not require a lot of storage space, most e-readers can store thousands of books and other publications. Just like an iPod can store an entire music library, a single e-reader can store a large collection of books.
Dozens of different e-readers are available, but some of the most popular ones include the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, and the Sony Reader. These devices all support a wide range of eBook formats and can download content over a wireless network. Many e-readers have a monochrome display, often called "electronic paper," while others have a full-color backlit display. While the electronic paper displays do not provide color images, the screen appears more like a paper page from a book, and it can be easily viewed in bright sunlight.
Tablets, such as the Apple iPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook, and the Amazon Kindle Fire are often considered e-readers, since they can be used for reading digital publications. However, it is more accurate to refer to these devices as tablets that can be used as e-readers since they are not designed primarily as digital readers. Tablets offer more capabilities than e-readers, but e-readers are often better suited for just reading e-books.
Updated: November 15, 2011