** FILE ** The Kindle device is shown in this photograph released by Amazon.com on Monday, Nov. 19, 2007. The $399 electronic book device will allow downloads of more than 90,000 book titles, blogs, magazines and newspapers. More than four months after Amazon.com released the Kindle, no one is sure whether the latest e-book reader is really hot, or not. But publishers believe that the Kindle has helped, if not revolutionized, the tiny electronic market. (AP Photo/Amazon.com,File)
If you've been tempted to switch to electronic books, this may be the right time. Consumer Reports says e-book readers have improved and prices are dropping. The Kindle that cost $259 last year now sells for as low as $139.
Consumer Reports tested the Kindle along with more than a dozen e-readers, including the Nook from Barnes & Noble. Testers evaluated the ease of reading and downloading books, and how fast the pages turn.
Most of the readers, including the Kindle and the Nook, use e-ink technology, which is only black and white. Others use a backlit LCD screen, like a laptop does. They can display color and, unlike e-ink, you won't need a light to read them in the dark. But they are almost impossible to read outdoors. On the other hand, the e-ink screens are almost like reading a real book.
Consumer Reports gave top ratings to the $189 3G Kindle. It's the best reader Consumer Reports has ever tested. The type is crisp and easy to read. The battery life is outstanding, as is the speed of the page turns.
But you can save money buying the $139 Kindle, which is identical to the 3G Kindle except you can only download content via Wi-Fi.
Consumer Reports also recommends the Barnes & Noble Nook. It doesn't score quite as high as the Kindle, but you can use it to download free library books. The Kindle doesn't accept library books.
It turns out that people who use e-book readers are reading more books, according to a recent Harris poll. But be careful. When it takes just a couple of keystrokes to buy a book, it's easy to go over your budget.