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A new version is due out Dec. 15. It will start at $499 and will have a faster processor and a body that’s as thin as the iPad’s.

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If you only want to spend $200 to $250, go for one of these e-reader/tablet hybrids. They add movies, games and other applications to the e-reader’s capabilities, so they’re not just for bookworms.

They have 7-inch screens, slightly less than half the size of the iPad’s screen. (Don’t be fooled by the 7-inch to 9.7-inch comparison, which makes it sound like the Kindle’s screen is only slightly smaller than the iPad’s. The difference in area is much larger than the difference in the diagonal measurement.)

_ Amazon Kindle Fire ($199)

The Fire is Amazon’s first color Kindle. It runs a highly modified, user-friendly version of Android. The selection of apps is smaller than for other Android tablets, however. Notable inclusions are Netflix, Hulu and Comixology, a comic-book reader.

The Fire also streams a selection of movies for free to Amazon Prime subscribers, and you can buy movies for download.

Amazon had to jettison some standard tablet features, such as a camera and a microphone, to keep the price low. The Fire has only 8 gigabytes of memory, which can’t be expanded. Magazines don’t translate well to the smaller screen.

_ Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet ($249)

The bookstore’s answer to the Kindle Fire is an updated version of last year’s Nook Color, a solid and successful e-reader. The Tablet has more memory than the Color or the Kindle Fire, and you can add even more.

Barnes & Noble’s app store has a smaller section than Amazon’s, but it does have Netflix and Hulu. Barnes & Noble allows books from other bookstores to be read, while Amazon doesn’t. However, there’s no video store yet, so you can’t download movies for offline viewing, as you can with the Fire or larger tablets such as the iPad.

The older Nook Color is still available for $50 less. It has less memory and a slower processor, but otherwise does the same job as the Tablet.

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If your budget is limited to $150, you’ll be tempted by some low-end color tablets. But giving one away is like giving away a lump of coal: The color touch screens that go into sub-$200 devices look bad and have problems responding to fingers.

Instead, get one of these lightweight, quality e-readers with black-and-white “electronic ink” screens for the bookworm in your life:

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