_ Amazon Kindle Touch 3G ($149)
Amazon still has a variety of monochrome Kindles, including its first touch-screen model. The screen is more legible than color screens in bright daylight and uses very little power. But it’s slow to respond, making navigation tedious. The lack of color takes the joy out of children’s books, magazines and comics. The device’s touch sensitivity does make navigation easier.
The 3G version comes with access to AT&T’s cellular network, with no monthly fees. That makes it a good gift for someone who travels a lot or doesn’t have Internet access at home.
For $149, this model comes with screensavers that display ads for cars, beauty products, Amazon gift cards and so forth. Pay another $40 to get rid of those. You can go the other way and save $50 by getting a non-3G version.
_ Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch ($99)
This slim, light e-reader is very similar to the $99 non-3G Kindle Touch. Barnes & Noble’s version has two advantages: It doesn’t display advertising, and it can load books from other bookstores, including Google Books. It can’t load Kindle books, though.
A postscript: None of these devices come with a case, and they all need one for protection. Consider including one if you want to be extra thoughtful. If you can’t afford it, you can always say that the choice of a case is a matter of taste best left to the new owner.
Peter Svensson can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/petersvensson
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