My Favorite Tablets and eBook Readers of 2011


My Favorite Tablets and eBook Readers of 2011

I’ve tested and reviewed a number of tablets and ebook readers in 2011, and as this year comes to a close, I decided to write down a list of my favorite tablets and ereaders of the year, the ones I personally use the most.

I’ve broken down the rankings into three categories: 10″ tablets, 7″ tablets, and 6″ ebook readers, with a couple of honorable mentions thrown in for good measure. So here it is, my favorite ebook readers and tablets for 2011…

My Favorite 10″ Tablet

ASUS Transformer

There’s no question the ASUS Transformer is my favorite tablet of the year. It even made me get rid of an Apple iPad 2 I had for a few months because I never wanted to use it when I had the ASUS Transformer around.

I use the Transformer virtually every day for web browsing and online reading, sending and receiving email, moderating comments for this blog, streaming music and videos, writing articles, using ASUS’s really cool SuperNote app, playing games, and I’ve even got it setup to access my Windows computer remotely. The Transformer isn’t perfect (the speakers are absolutely awful; headphones are a must) but it is very reliable and very versatile, especially with the optional keyboard dock.

If you can spare the cash, 10″ screens make for better tablets in my opinion. The added screen real estate really makes a big difference in usability. And the ASUS Transformer is among the best 10″ tablets on the market, and is one of the more affordable 10″ tablets starting at $399. There’s also the new upgraded model, the ASUS Transformer Prime. I’m not going to get one because the Transformer 1 does everything I need and still feels new to me, but the early reviews are saying it is the best Android tablet on the market, and I’m not surprised in the least.

My Favorite 7″ Tablet

Kindle Fire

This category was a little harder to choose than the others. There are a lot of good 7″ tablets. But ultimately the Kindle Fire wins for me because it’s fast, it’s open to install 3rd party apps out of the box, it has a nice screen, I do most of my online shopping at Amazon and like the integration of their store and services, and the Kindle Fire is open to hacking so custom ROMs for CM7 and CM9 (Android 4.0) are just around the corner.

Another thing I really like about the Kindle Fire is its compactness. In its Acase cover, the Kindle Fire fits in my jacket pocket and even my jeans’ pockets, unlike the larger Nook Color and Nook Tablet. The ASUS Transformer is nice with its large 10″ screen, but the larger size makes it less portable. When I go out of the house I’d rather stick the Kindle Fire in my pocket and be on my way.

My Favorite eBook Reader

Nook Touch

The Nook Touch is my favorite ebook reader and the one I use most simply because it can be turned into an effective E Ink tablet once rooted. Most ebook apps work surprisingly well, making it the ultimate ebook reader overall. And a few app developers have made apps specifically for the Nook Touch. The number of Android apps that will work on the Nook is absolutely amazing.

To be perfectly honest, if I couldn’t root the Nook Touch I wouldn’t want anything to do with it. It’s just too basic out of the box for my needs. How ironic.

Honorable Mentions

Sony Reader PRS-T1

Sony ended up with the surprise ebook reader pick of the year when they released the PRS-T1. It is one of the most advanced ebook readers on the market in terms of features and is also one of the most affordable ebook readers at $99 on sale and $129 regularly. Lately I’ve started using the PRS-T1 almost as much as the Nook Touch for reading ePub ebooks, the lighted cover is part of that reason.

Nook Color

There’s no question the Nook Color is one of the best tablets and ereaders of the year (technically it was released in 2010 but I’m not going to hold that against it). Stick an N2A card in it and it is still one of the best budget tablets on the market, especially considering the Nook Color can be had for as little as $129 refurbished. Aside from the Kindle Fire, it is the best tablets/ereaders under $200, and I’ve gotten a fair amount of use from mine this past year so it rightfully deserves a place on this list too.

12 Responses to “My Favorite Tablets and eBook Readers of 2011”

  1. Nathan, thanks for this round-up, very helpful.
    I wish you had a chance to get your hands on Acer Iconia A500 10″ tablet. I believe it is even better than Transformer (much better speakers, more outputs [full USB, micro HDMI], much better build quality) and the price point is very similar (if not cheaper at times) than Transformer. I personally have one and love it (though I have to admit that it was a tough choice at the time to pick Iconia over Transformer). Of course, Transformer has this sexy keyboard dock option which could be a huge benefit to some users depending on how he/she typically utilizes a tablet.
    As far as 6″ inch eInk reader, I am very impressed with PRS-T1 (especially given the recent price improvement 🙂 ). I am very much would like to switch to it as my primary reader device but that would mean saying “good bye” to my PRS-950 and that is tough!

    Thanks for all your reviews and other blog content in 2011. It has been very helpful and enjoying to follow your blog.

  2. Assuming I already had a desktop computer or a laptop to do most utilitarian computer activities, and I could only justify owning one tablet, I would probably buy a 7″ tablet. Based on what is on the market, my choice would probably be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″ plus.

    That said, I can justify owning a 5″, 7″, and a 10″ tablet for different activities and degrees of mobility. In fact, I do, with a Galaxy player 5″, Galaxy tab 7″, and HP Touchpad 10″.

  3. i’m sure you know, but in case you didn’t, the T1 is now rooted and can now run anroid apps. with the other features it has, it’s my new fav e-reader

    http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/PRST1_Rooting_and_Tweaks

  4. Wow…you sure will open that “can of worms”. Everybody that reads your blog and purchased a 10, 8, 7, ereader will have strong opinions. As for me..10″ too big….need more 8″ on market…7″ just about right. My favorate .. Nook Color w/N2A Card. $109 w/coupons referb (5 months , 8 hours/day, still OK). But I can see a 8″ or 10″ in my future, after XMas.

    As always Nathan…Great Job Thanks

  5. I still love both my Sony PRS 600 and the much newer Motorola Xoom. I use the Xoom for internet, social media, and banking as well as for reading books and magazines. Actually, I bought it mainly for magazines, as I read many of them and hate to part with them. The Xoom has wonderful colour for the pictures and for graphs, etc. I still use the Sony for reading books that don’t depend upon the use of colour – novels and history books. I was waiting for a colour e-ink reader, but my patience ran out this fall, and the Xoom was on sale. My only complaint with it is that I can’t figure out how to find things in the Android system. It’s unlike either Windows or Apple systems, and i keep losing downloaded books and so on. I live in hope that I’ll find a good book on the system!

    • All your downloaded books should show up in the downloads folder. There’s an app icon for it in the app drawer. A good file manager should help too. Astro, ES Explorer, something along those lines.

  6. i bought the ematic 104b and love it! and its pink!!<<girly
    i wanted an ereader to read books, not a mini computer.

    when the kindle fire price comes down i might think about it………..long and hard lol cause im happy with what i bought.and i want to thank you nathan for all your reviews it was a big help when i was shopping.

  7. Not sure if the Kindle Fire price is going to fall any time soon. Amazon already has it selling for less than it costs for them to make. Perhaps some refurb units will come online in the next few months though.

    Steve

  8. Okay, being an avid reader, I’ve been wanting an ebook reader for awhile. My birthday is coming up at the end of June and I’m researching what would best suit my needs.
    For best all-around versatility and ability to do everything I’m looking for a 7in tablet seems to fit, instead of getting a dedicated ereader like an eInk device and a separate netbook for web surfing with gaming & videos.

    As I have a couple months to wait, things may change, I know. And the Asus Memo 7in should be released around that time, so it’s a top one I’m watching, but there have been conflicting reports saying it’s scraped for a cheaper Nexus tablet or this article
    http://news.pricedekho.com/asus-is-ready-with-eee-pad-memo-370t-in-india-by-may-2012~295.html
    saying it’ll be released in India in May.

    I’m not really sure what to think now. I’m in the US, and the top 2 out right now I’m looking at are the Nook Tablet & the Kindle Fire. I need something under $300 max, under $200 is better. Is there anything in particular you can recommend? I’ve looked through all your reviews of both and I’m still unsure. The Nook Tablet is available on ebay New for around $100-150 but is it still crackable, or did that get completely dropped again, and is it a habit?
    Sorry I’m rambling, but I’m just very unsure now…

    • Any new Nook Tablets on eBay under $199 are surly scams because that’s as cheap as it sells for from B&N. Refurbished Nook Colors, yes. The Nook is just as hackable as the Kindle now, more so with the memory card slot.

      The Asus really is the best looking tablet but it remains to be seen if it even exists. They released a similar model in Asia so I’m still hopeful.

      Summer is usually when we start seeing a lot of new models coming out so the next few months should be interesting.

  9. The Blackberry Playbook is a far superior tablet than the Kindle Fire or Nook Colour. The Playbook has a better browser, screen, cpu and camera.