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Nielsen: Tablets Beat E-Readers As Second Living Room Screen

Blackberry-Tablet

Tablets own the living room, e-readers rule the bedroom. That's the upshot of new research released today by Nielsen. Seven out of 10 of tablet owners and 68% of smartphone owners, said they use their devices while watching television, compared to only 35% of e-reader owners.

But nearly two-thirds (61%) of people with e-readers use their devices in bed, compared to 57% of tablet owners and 51% of smartphone users, according to Nielsen's survey of nearly 12,000 connected device owners. So while a larger proportion of people use e-readers in bed, the gap is fairly small with tablets, suggesting people use tablets more at home overall. Which is what you might expect, given their greater versatility as media devices.

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When it comes to time spent, tablet users said 30% of their time on the device was while watching TV versus 21% lying in bed. By contrast, e-reader owner said only 15% of their time was spent watching TV while 37% of their time on the device was reading in bed. For smartphone users, 20% of their time using their handset is spent watching TV, and 11% lying in bed.

Exactly what people are doing with their tablets or smartphones in front of the TV, the Nielsen survey doesn't specify. But a Nielsen/Yahoo study earlier this year found 86% of mobile Internet users are on their devices while watching TV. Of that group, a third were using mobile apps, 37% were Web browsing, 40% social networking, and 56% texting with a friend or family member.

A quarter were browsing content related to what they were watching, "presenting a compelling opportunity for content providers and advertisers alike to complement the viewing experience on the mobile platform," according to the study. But the sustained attention required for reading a book or article clearly isn't well-suited to second-screen viewing.

Devices like Barnes & Noble's Nook Color, however, are starting to blur the lines between tablets and e-readers. Sony recently introduced a pair of tablets capable of serving as e-readers, and Kindle-maker Amazon is rumored to be preparing to launch a tablet of its own to compete with the iPad. Whichever company ends up with the device that crosses over most seamlessly from the living room to the bedroom, is the one that could wind up the winner in the tablet/e-reader wars.

Of course, a critical question the Nielsen survey doesn't appear to answer is, which device is winning the battle of the bathroom: tablet, e-reader or smartphones? I'll let readers weigh in on that one.

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