eReaders are portable electronic devices created with the sole purpose of storing books and, nowadays, audiobooks for you to read and/or listen to when you have the time and are in the mood. They are made using specially developed technologies to keep your eyes safe and eye strain at the minimum, unlike smartphones and tablets. And while for many book-addicted boys and girls (and non-binaries) out there nothing can ever come close to the feel and the smell of a real physical book, carrying one around is not always convenient, especially if you’re the collector type and prefer hardbacks with authors’ signatures. Slipping an eReader into your bag is much easier, isn’t it? Besides, you can carry your whole library around when it’s in electronic format, and read the one book you’re in the mood for.
eReaders Buying Guide
Here’s a small neat list of parameters you should probably check before making a decision to buy or not to buy. We are keeping it quite short for a quick cursory look and we advise you to see our reviews on some model for more insight and exact numbers.
|Parameter||What to Look for|
|Size||E-Readers have originally come into existence as the temporary replacement for physical books when the latter are inconvenient to carry around due to size and fragility. That is why it is common sense to have them within the dimensions where you can put yours into a bag or even a pocket, depending on what you have at your disposal. Today, you can find these electronic devices as small as 4.5” and as big as 10” like a tablet. Most of them, though, are either 6” or 7” in diagonal as these have been concluded the most comfortable sizes for users.|
|Display||There are two main points of interest regarding display: the touchscreen type and the resolution. The type of the touchscreen can be one of the following:
And the second parameter to check is the resolution. With lower resolution, your texts will definitely be larger but also somewhat blurred at the edges. High resolution makes the image (or, in this case, the book pages) sharper and more pronounced. Besides, you can adjust the font size in all eReaders. The resolution in the eReaders is usually shown in ppi (pixels per inch).
There used to be an issue with brightness but today, these gadgets come with it adjustable enough, some even auto-adjust for your surrounding lighting like the difference between the room light and the bright sunny day in a park. Moreover, many models even have backlighting that help read in the dark.
|Connectivity||Connectivity is crucial for an electronic book reader since this is how you get books inside. Most models have a USB input and a Wi-Fi module for you to transfer or download books and magazines but the latest readers have Bluetooth as well as a slot for cellular card. This way, it is hard to find a place where you can’t get books into your eReader.|
|Storage||Well, the more the better, of course. With larger storage, you can keep more files right at your fingertips. At the same time, book files (epub, fb2, pdf, and others) do not usually take up too much space so you can store a lot in an eReader with mere 1~2GB of space.|
|Battery Life||The majority of eReaders nowadays use the E Ink technology that only needs power when some action is taken, like you browsing you library, opening a book, or turning the page. Thanks to this technology, these compact electronic pocketbook devices usually hold charge for weeks of regular use but you would still be better off checking in advance.|
|Housing||Same as with regular tablets, the body of a reading device can be made of plastic or metal. Metal is obviously more durable but it also makes the device a bit heavier. Plastic is light and cheap to use so the devices in plastic are more popular—they are cheaper and lighter (read—more portable). However, today, the plastic is also quite sturdy, which has converted quite a number of metal ebook reader worshippers to plastic.|
And, without further ado, let’s see the best ebook reader selection.
The best E-Readers of 2018
- Waterproof IPX8
- Optimized for Audible with Bluetooth-connected headphones
- The highest resolution on the market currently
- Quite expensive for an eReader
- Metal body, so it is a bit heavier than it used to be
Kindle Oasis is a revolutionary device in several ways. The number one innovation in this model is that it is waterproof. And we are not talking about just basic waterproofness but about the IPX8, the second strongest water protection that means the device will live through continuous immersion to the depth of over 1 meter (2 meters and 60 minutes, according to the manufacturer). Now, you can take your reading with you when you are about to have a nice long soak in the bath or you are to enjoy some floating in the sea. Isn’t it nice? One less limit for your reading.
The second major update to the Kindle’s popular electronic book reader family is that you can now use it for audiobooks, too—by connecting the headphones wirelessly, using the built-in Bluetooth module. This feature is now available for two Kindle models only, the Oasis and the new 6” Kindle. If you have the Amazon’s Audible Premium, you can enjoy it anywhere without having to bring along a tablet, too. Or, alternatively, if you ever wanted to get Audible but found it unwise economically for the lack of proper gadget, now you can get it and listen to books with an eReader.
Now to the more average features. This Kindle pocketbook reader is 7” in diagonal so it is not too big, nor it is too small. At the same time, it has 300 ppi resolution that makes reading books a joyful ride with the quality image displaying. There is a backlight with the whole 12 LEDs and an adaptive light sensor that will adjust the screen brightness depending on your ambient light (which you can change if you find it insufficient) The screen is, of course, glare-free, like it is with most Kindle models today. There is a touchscreen, too, or you can choose to turn pages with buttons instead.
The battery of this reading device will live for weeks between charges, it is one of the strongest and long-lasting within the industry. As for connectivity, Kindle Oasis has the ability to use both Wi-Fi and mobile networks for downloading books and magazines. With 32GB of storage space, you can have thousands of them stored for when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi to use. A 4GB storage option available.
Finally, the model is offered in Champagne gold and Graphite Aluminum Black housing colors, which is a nice break from the simple black and white options we are so used to.
- The front light lessens the eye strain
- Long battery life
- Family Library feature is very convenient
- No page turning buttons
- The AC adapter is bought separately
The Paperwhite is a bestseller within the Kindle family, and for a reason. It is the middle ground model—cheaper than Oasis but with some of its most convenient features that are absent from the regular 6” Kindle. Well, it is neither waterproof nor Audible-supported but it has some other peculiarities most users find vital for an eReader.
For starters, the Kindle Paperwhite has the resolution of 300 ppi on its 6” display. This means that the text on the screen will be crisp and easily readable. It is the same resolution that Oasis has but on a smaller screen. It is also almost twice the resolution or a base Kindle model, which is 167 ppi. Another distinction is that Paperwhite does have a backlight the base model lacks. Though, it is not 12 LEDs of the Oasis, there are only 4 here. Still, it makes a difference just the same. Besides, the light used here is front one, not back used by tablets and smartphones (so maybe it is not quite right to call it backlighting). The pros of a front light is that it makes for far less eye strain due to not shining as bright and right into your eyes.
Paperwhite is the first eReader to use Bookerly, the font created specifically created for digital screens like pocketbook readers, tablets, and smartphones. Not too long ago, this font was exclusive for Paperwhite, even, though now it is used in more models and even on the Amazon’s main website. Besides the font (that can be changed if you don’t like it, of course), there is the enhanced typesettings engine that is able to adjust every aspect of your text so that it is displayed with the most convenience for you and for the best experience when you are reading.
This Kindle reading device has both the Wi-Fi module and the ability to work with a free cellular connection. Or you can transfer files via a USB cord, of course. At the basic brightness settings and without the Wi-Fi or Cellular connectivity constantly on, the battery will hold up for close to one month of reading books half an hour per day.
There is a variety of useful settings for the greatest experience. The Time to Read feature, for example, is adaptive, it will show you how long it will take for you personally to finish the book while most reading apps and many eReaders use the average time spent by the general populace. This is quite a nice feature, especially if you are reading in a foreign language or just simply read faster or slower than most people. Or another one—the shared library. With it, you can share the books in your Kindle library with your family and borrow theirs as well. It’s all little things but there is a lot of them.
Kobo Aura H2O
- IP67 protection against water and dust
- A variety of font customization options
- Large display despite compact overall size
- The original reading app is a tad slow-ish
- The housing attracts fingerprints
Kobo was offering waterproof eReaders before Amazon Kindle, their Aura H2O has a lower water resistance compared to the latest Kindle Oasis but only slightly, at IP67 and immersion to a 1-meter depth for half an hour. By the way, the “6” in IP67 is for high dust and sand protection, which is absent in Oasis. What we’re trying to say is that the Aura H2O is as beach-friendly as they come.
There are other nice features. For example, at a more or less similar size to the Kindle Paperwhite, for example, the Aura H2O reading device has a larger active display—in Paperwhite, it is 6” and in Aura it is 6.8”—and thus offers more reading area. This gadget is also praised by the customers for its front light, which is said to be more even than that of any other electronic book reader. You can customize a lot of things here, too, from fonts size to spacing to margins and all, which is ultimately valuable for the best possible reading experience.
The model has 4GB of storage space, same as the Kindle Paperwhite, but it is expandable with the SD card to up to 32 GB. Together, these make 36 GB, which is more than the Oasis. Yet, this device is a little cheaper.
Another feature that users love about the Kobo Aura is that it supports epub files, one of the most popular formats today in regards to books. Kindle eReaders do not support this format while Aura does. In fact, Aura H2O has a nice selection of supported file formats besides epub: pdf, mobi, txt, RTF, HTML, and even jpeg and png images and comic book formats like cbr and cbz. Truly, an all-around solution, especially for kids and young adults who are more often into comics today than the older generations.
The Kobo Aura H2O will work for weeks on a single charge at moderate use and it takes little time to recharge so that you can grab it and go anywhere to read.
Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3
- Compact and comfortable to hold one-handed
- You can choose between blue and orange light
- The purchases can be secured with a password
- Sometimes it might be slow turning on
- Limited file formats support
The GlowLight 3 is exceptionally comfortable to hold even one-handed since it has a rather large bezel. When you read standing in a bus or on the go, this comes as extremely useful feature—you’re not touching the screen, leaving fingerprints everywhere. The glass on the screen is scratch-resistant, too, in case you happen to put it in your bag or purse without protection. And yes, the size is, in fact, compact enough to fit in a purse. Well, most purses.
This Nook model has a 6” screen and a fairly high resolution so the letters in your book are crisp and clear. The device features a GlowLight lighting technology (hence the name) that makes reading equally comfortable in a dark room at night and during a sunny day in the park. There is a Night Mode, too, and you can either customize it manually or trust the device to adjust the brightness based on the sun’s movement. The light is more yellow-ish than white, more like amber, even, making it softer and warmer, more gentle on the eyes for you to read longer without feeling any eye strain.
The battery in this pocketbook reader lives for ages. At certain energy-saving settings, you can have it last for up to 50 days without any need to recharge; you can have a stay on a deserted island with little more to entertain yourself than an eReader, isn’t that nice? Well, this is obviously a joke but the long battery life is completely true.
With this edition of Nook GlowLight, several enhancements were made as an answer to the users’ complaints and comments. There is now a better slider for brightness adjustment and the dictionary search has become easier to use without additional clicks. Overall, it is a great electronic reading device at a good price, suitable for students.
- Reinforced glass screen
- PagePress sensors offer little to no distraction when you turn the page
- Multiple sharing options
- Expensive, but that goes for many Kindles
- PagePress does not work in Landscape mode
Another Kindle eReader, the Voyage is also one of the most popular ones. It is probably the closest any electronic book reader comes to the thickness of a sheet of paper today, it is mere 7.6 mm thin and really light. Despite that, it offers a 300 ppi display featured in more expensive models of Kindle and other brands alike. High resolution makes for a comfortable experience in reading books thanks to the clarity and crispness of the text. In addition to that, the Voyage eReader has a light sensor that will evaluate the conditions you are in at the moment and will adjust the screen brightness to better fit it and cause less eye strain. These settings can be overridden manually, of course, but we do find the feature to be a useful one.
This compact reader uses buttons to turn the pages but these buttons are specifically crafted to not distract you from the actual reading: the PagePress sensors are carbon-and-silver in composition and react to the slightest change in pressure; turning a page has never been easier. In fact, it is too easy for some people. Well, if it is, you can still use the touchscreen for it. In addition to that, the Voyage has a reinforced glass on the screen to make it more durable and help live through the hardships of everyday use and certain mishaps.
Other features of this reading device are the usual ones for a Kindle. It syncs to your Goodreads page, which is actually quite cool, if you think about it. You can add your highlights and quotes directly to your Goodreads page from the reading app. The sharing is also possible to your email in either printable pdf format or as a spreadsheet. The Kindle app dictionary is a handy feature for kids and anyone looking to read more complex books—it takes literally a second to call up the word’s definition and if you wish, you can set them to be displayed constantly above the words generally considered not in the top of known and used.
The Kindle shop interface is known to be the most user-friendly and convenient among all the variety of electronic bookshops available today. The reading app in Kindle readers sync between the devices and it also remembers the place you’ve stopped reading—when you decide to look up some name or event earlier in the book, the app will return you to the last reading point when you are finished.
Barnes & Noble NOOK GlowLight Plus
- Nice price for the offered functionality
- The backlight is very even and comfortable to the eyes
- The store navigation takes time to master
- Not many file formats supported
Being on the cheaper side of the eReaders range, the NOOK GlowLight Plus still does offer quite a number of nice features. For starters, it is waterproof. Now, it is not the first waterproof electronic reading device (that honor belongs to Kobo), there are still not too many such models around and generally, they are plenty expensive, like the Kindle Oasis that costs around $250. It is also the first to be waterproof in the NOOK family so B&N lovers can rejoice now.
The GlowLight Plus is one of the lightest devices in its class, too, it only weighs 6.9 ounces so you will have no trouble holding it for long streaks of time, there will be little to no fatigue. Another feature in favor for this model if you are an avid reader spending hours on end glued to the book is that here, you will find enhanced crispness and nice contrast to lessen the eye strain and preserve your eyesight. There is a backlight for night reading, too, of course, since that’s when most of us find the time to dive into the imaginary world of fiction or explore the many sides of real-life stories, theories, and knowledge of non-fiction.
There is a 4GB storage space here and it is enough for a couple thousand books, at least. Mind that we are talking about the files you actually store in the device because the electronic books you buy from the Barnes & Noble store can be stored in the cloud for free, thus freeing the space for your sideloaded files. The built-in reading app can recognize pdf and epub files. No Kindle books, though, since they are in Amazon’s own file format not supported anywhere else but in the Kindle app.
Tested under the standard conditions (half an hour of reading at low brightness), this model holds the charge for about a month and half or so. That’s approximately 22~23 hours of straight use so if you’re a passionate reader and go at it with “Who needs sleep anyway?” you will be able to gobble a book or three in one go. Though we do recommend to take breaks for eating and sleeping to be healthy.
This member of the NOOK family looks more expensive than it is, more flashy and attention-grabbing: it is white at the front and gold-ish at the back. If you like to look elegant and stand out from the crowd, this might be your perfect eReader.
Kobo Aura ONE
- Good option for people with poor eyesight
- Large selection of supported formats
- Not a pocket-sized reader
- The navigation could still use some work
Now, this one is BIG. The Kobo Aura ONE has a 7.8” display so it is not exactly the pocket size eReader. It is, however, the best eReader for visually impaired or simply people with poor eyesight. On the bigger screen, you can set a larger font and yet have a decent amount of text per page, which is important for comfortable reading experience.
The coolest thing about this model is that it was developed with the direct involvement from the actual customers. The Kobo company has asked their clients to contribute with what they would like to have in an eReader and their answers were all considered and put to work. This resulted in one of the most popular models among bigger ones, at least.
For one, being challenged by their direct customers, the manufacturer has improved the front-light technology—the current ComfortLight PRO is a step forward compared to its predecessor and it offers a more uniform lighting in a dark environment, healthier for your eyes and less straining; there is little to no blue light emission so after you had your bedtime story, you will fall asleep easily and will rest fully.
Next, there is a wide selection of interface localization languages. Besides English and Spanish, which are the most widespread, there is also French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Portuguese, and Turkish. The reading app can also recognize books in Cyrillic languages like Russian and also Greek alphabet.
Like most Kobo electronic reading devices, this one also supports a wide range of file formats, which has always been a distinguishing feature for this company. Be it epub, pdf, txt, mobi, jpeg, png, cbr, or many others, you will be able to easily read any book or comic out there. Which is why it is also good to have 8GB of storage space.
Oh, and it is also waterproof. IP67, in fact, so it is water and dust/sand protection, you can take this model to the poolside or beach. Makes for a good change in scenery for your reading.
Putting the line under everything listed, we’d like to say that in the latest years, the eReaders have come a long way in their flexibility. Today, many of them offer weeks and even months of operation on a single charge, are waterproof, and connect to social networks to share your thoughts, highlights, and quotes. Now, everyone can find a device to fit their wallet without having to surrender the most valuable features. Amazon’s Kindle still leads the crowd as the most popular and fast upgrading but others like Kobo and B&N are on Kindle’s heels, sometimes getting ahead in some innovations. If you need a short recommendation for where to turn you attention first, here it is:
- Go for a Kindle if you shop on Amazon a lot and are not too budget-strapped, Kindle has the widest selection of books and magazines and their Unlimited Premium is a top bargain for avid readers.
- Kobo is the choice of those who sideload files to read and/or reads in a lot of different formats since their reading app recognizes the widest range of file types.
- Budget eReaders with solid performance and decent functionality—your best bet is Barnes & Noble. Their store is also really good but there are little extra to the devices.
These are the most popular companies today on the market of electronic reading devices. There are others, many of them, but these are the top three in reputation and quality so most customers come to them first thing.