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Back to School 2013: eReaders

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The following post is sponsored by Best Buy. Head over to Best Buy for your back to school needs.

No matter how you boil it down, you’re going to be reading something when you go back to school. Maybe it’s classic literature for English class, or maybe it’s an engineering text book. We’ve already covered full size tablets and mini-tablets that could make great products for reading text books and casual novels, but now we’re going to address some of the hottest actual eReaders on the market today.

A lot of these have been around for a while, and for good reason: they offer excellent battery life, backlights for reading in the dark, huge libraries of books to choose from and low price points. Let’s dive in to some of our favorites right now.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is one of our favorite eReaders on the market because it comes in at a budget-friendly $119 price point and includes a sharp 212ppi display measuring 6-inches across. Its backlight makes it super easy to read at night time, and at just 0.36-inches thin you can toss it in a bag and pretend it isn’t even there. Amazon promises a stellar 8 weeks of battery life with Wi-Fi turned off (you really only need it to download books), and 2GB of storage and free cloud storage should be enough to keep all of the books you’ll read this year and years to come. If you don’t need the backlight, consider the original Kindle, which is available for just $69 and offers similar features but a lower-res display.

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is Barnes & Noble’s competitor to the Kindle Paperwhite. It offers similar battery life, about 2 months, and also has a backlight for reading in the dark. We’ve used one to read dozens of books and have appreciated the light 7-ounce body and the rubber grips around the display, which provide a great grip. Barnes & Noble offers 3 million titles ranging from books to newspapers and magazines, and you’ll get free WI-Fi for an hour in all Barnes & Noble stores or from 24,000 AT&T hotspots. It also doesn’t have advertisements, which can be a setback on the Kindle Paperwhite.

Kobo Aura HD

Kobo doesn’t have a huge name in the United States just yet, but it makes fantastic eReaders and needs to be on your radar. We’re particularly fond of the Kobo Aura HD, which packs a 1GHz processor for faster performance over other eReaders, 4GB of storage, up to 2 months of battery life, access to 3.5 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers, a larger 6.8-inch display with a 265ppi, and more. As with the other choices, it also has a backlight, which Kobo calls “ComfortLight,” with even distribution across the screen. It’s priced a bit higher than the other options at $169.99, but that’s what you get for better specs.

Wild Card: Nexus 7

Ok, we know we said that we already covered tablets. And, to be fair, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo all offer tablets that could fit this guide. But, none have the incredible resolution of the new Nexus 7, which makes reading an absolute pleasure. We’ve been cruising through magazines and books ever since our unit arrived in the mail, and we’re really enjoying the super crisp experience. It has a 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, making it one of the highest (if not the highest) resolution 7-inch tablets on the market. Toss in Google Play’s new text book offering and you have one of our top choices for reading and for play.

Pro Tip: How to Get Free eBooks

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Just last month we wrote a guide that will help you download free eBooks. You probably won’t find any current best sellers from The New York Times list, this is a completely legal method, but you’ll find plenty of classics that are probably still taught in school (we hope). Check out Project Gutenberg, OpenLibrary.org, ManyBooks.net and Archive.org, or read our full guide!

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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