Budget iPads, Tablets, and eBook Readers Can Still Get the Job Done

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Budget iPads, Tablets, and eBook Readers Can Still Get the Job Done

There are so many options out there for accessing and using digital information that of course everyone wants to get in on the action. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford top of the line electronics, and certainly not everyone can afford to buy a complete collection of high-end devices, such as a smartphone, an eBook reader , a tablet, and a laptop, all at once. The good news is that buying expensive electronics is not the only way to access digital media.

Budget eReaders and tablets, such as the popular iPad, are available, from entry-level devices more powerful than anything on the market just a few years ago to professional-quality machines available at deep discounts. In order to look for budget tablets and eBook readers, it is a good idea first to get a good understanding of these devices as a group, what they are, and what their similarities and differences are. Then, buyers could benefit from knowing to how to choose tablets and eReaders that fit comfortably within a tight budget.

Tablets and eBook Readers

Tablets and eBook readers have a lot in common, but they are not the same thing. Each kind of device is specialised for a different type of use, so that even though the two have features that overlap, they have different areas of strength. Whether a buyer chooses one of each or only one or the other depends on the buyer's particular needs and interests.


Tablet computers are flat, like the screen of a laptop without the keyboard. They occupy a middle ground in function between the tiny but ultra-portable smartphones and the larger and much more powerful laptops. Tablets can perform many of the functions of both, though few people would actually give up their laptops and phones in favour of a tablet. The first tablet was the iPad, and the iPad product line still dominates the industry, though it does have competition, most notably from Android. Each product line offers multiple sizes, multiple memory models, and multiple ways to access the Internet. Taken together, there are at least several dozen different tablet computers to choose from.

Choosing a tablet begins with choosing a brand, since each brand has its own operating system. Programs, or apps, developed for one brand's operating system do not work on devices made by other manufacturers. Choosing a brand therefore also means choosing an entire online world. From there, major considerations include screen size and resolution, processor speed, and price, with tablets that are able to function as mini-laptops for serious gaming and productive work costing more than the basic models.

eBook Readers

eBook readers generally look like very small tablets and, like tablets, most can browse the web to some degree. Most eBook readers also feature E-Ink displays that look like printed text, even to the point of being invisible in the dark. These displays cause less eyestrain when used for long periods and many eBook readers have their own lights that shine upon the screen for reading in low light conditions. The newer eBook readers can store thousands of books in memory, and many can also complement their memory using online cloud storage.

As with tablets, buying an eBook reader begins with choosing a product line since books issued for one brand's eBook reader do not work on other brands. This means that the buyer's entire collection of eBooks must be replaced if the second eBook reader is not of the same brand as the first. Besides brand, eBook readers vary slightly in size, the way the user navigates through eBooks, and the way the eBook reader connects to the Internet.

The Difference Between Tablets and eBook Readers

eBook readers and tablets increasingly resemble each other, since tablets can display eBooks and eReaders can navigate the Internet. The primary functional difference between the two is one of emphasis. Although, going forward, the area of overlap between the two types of devices is likely to grow, eBook readers are specialised for reading books while tablets are specialised for displaying Internet content and that is not likely to change. This chart compares tablets and eBook readers side by side. Over time, some of these characteristics are likely to shift; however, the overall picture of emphasis is unlikely to change.



eBook Readers

Display Screen

Backlit, in colour, subject to glare

Most are black and white, gentle on the eyes

Video and Audio

Can display and edit video and audio

Only some can display video and audio


Can handle standard e-mail services

Some offer their own e-mail services, but usually require users to create new e-mail addresses


Can run apps

Cannot run apps

Text Creation

Many can run Microsoft Office

Some have simple typing programs, not adequate for professional work

Tablet computers typically cost two to three times what eBook readers go for. Note that some people may want to buy one of each while others prefer to choose a tablet or an eBook reader. Some choose neither, preferring to stay with other electronics and print books.

Buying iPads, Tablets, and eBook Readers on a Budget

There are two basic approaches to getting the most electronics for the money and both approaches apply to both eBook readers, including iPads, and tablets. One approach is to focus on the features the buyer actually considers important, instead of paying for unnecessary features that might not ever get used. The other approach is to look for deals on particular models. Of course, the two approaches can be used together for finding great deals.

What Features Really Matter?

Since eBook readers and tablets overlap to some degree, it makes sense to consider both approaches when planning a purchase. Some buyers initially interested in a tablet may find that one of the higher-end eBook readers is actually a better match. This can happen, especially considering that eBook readers are a fraction of the cost of tablets.

Buyers should keep in mind that an expensive device is not always excellent from any given buyer's perspective. For example, a buyer who likes books but does not enjoy either video games or films might prefer a basic eBook reader over a high-end tablet even if money were no object. Not all buyers have the same needs and interests.

A good way to begin is to list features the device must have to be worth buying, as well as to make a list of features that it would be nice to have. Buyers should focus on what they want the device to be able to do, not technical aspects such as processor speed, since this information gives a better picture of what owning the device might be like. Then decide on a cut-off price above which buying a device just ceases to be an option. When shopping, then, focus on getting a device that has all of the required features and as many of the desired features as possible without going off the budget.

Looking for Budget Tablets and eBook Readers

For tablets, good deals can be found by looking for slightly older models, used tablets, or refurbished tablets. The difficulty is that although older machines are categorically lower cost, the older a tablet is, the more likely it is to have trouble interfacing with the Internet. How early the buyer can go depends on the buyer's particular needs. A related strategy is to time the purchase to just before a new model comes out, when prices are likely to be lower.

Because eBook readers are so much lower cost than tablets, they are themselves the budget option. Of course, basic models do cost less than more advanced models, and the same tips for finding good deals apply to them as to tablet computers. However, the cost of an eBook reader device itself is not usually a serious budget concern. Manufacturers are able to keep eBook reader prices so low because they expect to make their money selling the eBooks themselves. While eBook prices are generally quite reasonable, a person wishing to take full advantage of an eBook reader's impressive memory capacity could easily spend a small fortune on books alone. Fortunately, many eBook manufacturers offer a lending library option where members can borrow as many eBook files as they like in exchange for a flat annual membership fee.

How to Buy Tablets and eBook Readers on eBay

eBay offers many kinds of tablets and eBook readers in the same place for reasonable prices. This kind of convenience is a major advantage. Buyers can look for both used and new models of tablets and eBook readers on eBay.

Looking for Tablets and eBook Readers on eBay

A simple way to look for a tablet, an eBook reader, or anything else on eBay, is to use Advanced Search to go right to the item. For those who prefer to browse, there is the simple search; just type 'tablet', ' iPad', or eBook reader into the search box and then narrow the results according to brand, model, and condition. Accessories, such as cases, may also come up in the same search, or these can be searched for separately.

Buying Tablets and eBook Readers with Confidence

Any questions about any product can be directed to the seller using the contact link on his or her profile page. The profile also lists the seller's feedback score and return policy. It is a good idea to read through the listing thoroughly before buying, so as to avoid buying the wrong thing by mistake. Some sellers offer free shipping, and most insure shipping if asked.


There is no good reason not to buy budget electronics. Even entry-level machines certainly get the job done, and each manufacturer's basic offerings get more powerful every year while prices continue to come down. A little diligent searching can also yield some great deals on high-end devices.

A good way to find a great price is to first be very clear about what features are actually important so as not to spend money buying features that the buyer does not want and might not ever use. Then, look for a used or factory refurbished device from a slightly earlier model, though do not go too early or the device could become obsolete too soon. Obsolete electronics have difficulty fully accessing the Internet, since the Internet is constantly changing and being updated. Even if money is not a particularly serious concern, it is still a good idea to look for a good deal on a tablet or an eBook reader so as to have more room in the budget for a big collection of apps and eBooks.

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