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The contemporary e-reader – with the capacity to download and hold thousands of books, make notes and not drain a set of batteries every few hours – is a very new genre of gadget. The variety can be bewildering, the complexities baffling and the options change almost weekly.

If you are considering biting the bullet, first consider a few key points:

First, what kind of academic books can you download with your chosen e-reader? If you go for Amazon’s Kindle, you may be well served. Amazon stocks tens of thousands of digitised academic titles on its new UK-centric store. Apple’s bookstore, however, currently stocks very few.

You need to be able to search by phrase (a huge advance over printed books) and make notes. You can do this with most e-readers, but check the specifications carefully before committing. You can’t make notes with the iPad.

The most annoying thing about e-readers is the slowness of the page turn. They are all irritating in this way; the iPad is the least so, and the colour reading experience on Apple’s deluxe multipurpose device is superb.

Real e-readers (not the iPad) have e-ink screens that replicate paper and are readable in sunlight. These screens also increase battery life to absurd levels – up to two weeks per charge. But this hardly matters.

Most have a bundle of pointless features. The worst of these is text-to-speech, which allows the device to read to you in a monotone, complete with mispronunciations of everything ambiguous.

Many e-readers include a WiFi connection, which is important and useful. Some also include, at extra cost, a 3G SIM card and wireless broadband connection. This is less useful and unlikely to be worth the money.

TOP FOUR E-READERS FOR STUDENTS

Amazon New Kindle
(www.amazon.co.uk)

Format: Amazon e-books: 400,000 to buy, plus 1m free
Sunlight use: Yes
Battery life: 10 days to two weeks
Price: £109-£149 ($168-$230)
Experience rating out of 5: 4

Apple iPad
(store.apple.com/uk)

Format: Apple iBookstore
Sunlight use: No
Battery life: 10 hours
Price: From £429
Experience rating out of 5: 4.5

Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600
(www.sony.co.uk/reader)

Format: Partnered with Waterstones and semi-universal
Sunlight use: Yes
Battery life: 14 days
Price: £120
Experience rating out of 5: 3.5

ALSO TO CONSIDER:

Cool-er
(www.coolreaders.co.uk)

Format: Universal
Sunlight use: Yes
Battery life: 7,000 page turns
Price: £189

BeBook Neo
(www.mybebook.com)

Format: Universal
Sunlight use: Yes
Battery life: 7,000 page turns – should be good for several weeks
Price £280

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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