Welcome to our up-to-date buying guide to the best e-readers in retail shops today. As usual, our findings are based on expert performance and market analysis, customer feedback and critical reviews.
Before fully-functional tablets from the likes of Samsung and Apple took over the market, ebook readers were very popular. Every book lover marveled at the thought of having an entire library in a small and light device that could easily be carried around and whose content was easily accessible. Furthermore, these devices could access online bookstores and users could buy any title they desired in a matter of seconds.
Of course now we have smartphones and tablets that can do all this and much more but there is still that significant niche of traditional readers, who prefer a device that is especially tailored for books and magazines. Because of this, manufacturers of e-readers have not relented in developing new products, despite the global domination by modern multi-functional tablets. Amazon for example, has been consistent with its Kindle line of products over the years, making them the most popular e-readers in the market. However, competition from other manufacturers like Kobo and Barnes & Noble continues to rise, and ebook lovers are increasingly finding more devices to choose from. This is why we here at Tabletninja have found it necessary to inform you exactly what the e-reader’s world has to offer.
The devices analyzed here are from different companies and they differ in feature sets as well as retail prices. Are you thinking of getting yourself a reading tablet? If so, we are confident that here, you will find an e-reader that is just for you.
Tablet Buying Guide
Before you get started on your journey be sure to check out our Tablet Buying Guide for a run down on tablet basics or if you would like to learn more of the ins and outs of what makes a tablet without being confused by a ton of technical jargon.
Best E-Readers – Top Pick
Touting itself as “A booklover’s new best friend” the 8th Generation Kindle is currently the cheapest offering from Amazon’s Kindle series. It features a functional, laid-back design that is attractive in its own way, and it is both slimmer and lighter than its predecessor. Kindle’s e-ink display creates crisp text similar to what you would get on a real book, but unfortunately, this means it is black and white. The 6-inch display is not backlit, but it offers outstanding contrast and no glare for excellent outdoor and low-light use, you will need to keep the lights on while in bed, however. Like the rest of the Kindle lineup, it boasts 4GB of internal storage that can store thousands of books from Amazon’s store, you will have to rely on Wi-Fi to download them, however, as no cellular connectivity is supported. It packs a large battery that lasts long enough to see a “low battery” warning barely ever, and combined with no notification pop-ups from e-mails, calls, and messages, the Kindle will keep you lost in your reading for ages.
- Long battery life
- Same performance as more expensive e-readers
- Non-backlit screen
- e-ink display RAM
- Internal Storage: 4GB
- Removable Storage: SD card reader
- 6 inch, 167 ppi pixels
- Fire OS 5
- 0.35 lbs
The Kindle is a great basic e-reader that offers a great reading experience at an affordable price.
Best E-Readers – Runners-Up
With the new Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon have once again shown how much they care about the world’s reading culture. The 2013 version was regarded by many as the best straight-forward reading tablet that year, and with impressive upgrades, this young one does well to uphold its predecessor’s reputation. The ultra-lightweight slim design is nothing short of awesome, making the e-reader super comfortable to hold. The rubber texture offers nice grip and bezels are wide enough to support your fingers as you read. E-readers do not normally have high pixel-density screens and with a 1072 x 1448-pixels resolution 6-inch panel, the Kindle Paperwhite has one of the sharpest displays in the market. The high text clarity and sharp contrast makes reading easy and it is also right enough for use in all environments. A 1GHz processor and 512MB RAM power the device, and the well optimized Amazon software ensures lagging is non-existent. And speaking of the software, tweaks both new and old make interacting with your books very easy. However, like other Amazon e-readers, the Paperwhite is very restrictive with the types of formats it supports. Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, MOBI and PRC are supported natively, but you will have to go through tedious conversion processes with external software to get other formats onto your device. Nonetheless, the bookstore is heavily populated with free and discounted books, and if you’d rather own a book than read it online, you can store thousands of them in your device, thanks to a 4GB internal storage. Albeit lower than its predecessor’s 24 hours, the new Paperwhite’s 21-hour battery life is still stunning.
- Ultra-light and slim design
- Excellent display quality
- Great performance
- User-friendly software
- Lack of external speakers
- A restrictive support of ebook formats
- Internal Storage: 4GB
- Removable Storage: None
- 6 inch, pixels
- Fire OS 4
- 0.45 lbs
The 3rd Generation Amazon Kindle Paperwhite offers a pleasant design, great display and an overall enjoyable reading experience. If you are looking for a quality e-reader that is less expensive than the Kindle Voyage and the Kobo Aura H2O, you will not go wrong with this one.
The new Kindle Oasis has seen some solid improvements, with Amazon clearly paying attention to customer complaints. The display sits to the right side and it features a larger 7-inch display than its predecessor, the 2016 Oasis. The previous model suffered from lighting issues, but this has been rectified thanks to 12 LED lights creating more uniformed lighting. The screen also has a higher pixel density with 300ppi, delivering sharp and clear text, and a neat auto-brightness option that adjusts accordingly depending on the light you are in, be it direct sunlight or in complete darkness. It has an aluminium body and glass cover that look luxurious, but sadly some found it to be a bit slippery to hold, which they attributed to its slightly heavier design compared to the 2016 Oasis. The Audible integration is a new addition that was well received, too, and this allows you to listen to audiobooks purchased off of Amazon’s audiobook store. Oddly enough, however, it doesn’t have a headphone jack or speakers, but instead you will need to pair a Bluetooth device to it such as a speaker or headphones. The IPX8 waterproofing means that it can be immersed in water over 1m deep for around 60 minutes. This is great for reading out by the pool on warmer summer days. The battery life has received quite a bit criticism from customers. While it boasts to have weeks of battery life on the Amazon product page, some found that it drained almost completely after getting about halfway through their books (see here). With Bluetooth active, you will see it drain even faster. The Oasis has excellent parental control features for kids too, so parents do not have to worry about whether or not children are viewing inappropriate content or not. Prime members will also get free unlimited access to over a thousand titles according to Amazon, but the Prime membership is fairly pricey. The 8GB of storage space is more than enough storage, but in case you feel it may be too little, there is a 32GB option too.
- Improved backlighting
- Brilliant display
- Water resistant
- Premium look
- Audible integration
- Great selection of e-books
- Very expensive
- Short battery life
- Internal Storage: 8GB
- Removable Storage: up to 32GB
- 7 inch, pixels (TN)
- 0.42 lbs
The 2017 Amazon Kindle Oasis is a premium e-reader that comes packed with great features, but it has a massive price tag and customers noted that the battery life is shorter than expected.
Despite being released almost two years ago, the Kindle Voyage is still one of Amazon’s high-end ebook readers. The pleasant blend of durable plastic, the angular back-panel, a mere 6.3-ounce weight and a 0.3-inch thickness collectively make this device look and feel premium while in your palms. The Voyage uses a 6-inch display with a resolution of 1448 x 1072 pixels, resulting in a 300 PPI density. While this was a ground-breaking step in 2014, the cheaper 2015 Kindle Paperwhite features a similar 300 PPI panel at a significantly lower price. However, the Voyage has a little more up its sleeve, and that is its adaptive brightness feature. Brightness shifts smoothly in a way that won’t distract your reading, and the page is kept in sharp contrast to suit any lighting conditions. On the edges at either side of the display are pressure-sensitive PagePress buttons which serve as a replacement to the physical buttons that were on earlier Kindles. The number of page-turns depends on the amount of pressure you apply onto a button. Amazon has recently upgraded the Kindle interface across all its devices dating back to 2013, and the Voyage has benefited from this. Its interface looks better and the new typesetting engine as well as added fonts make reading more interesting. There is a wide selection of books available from the bookstore, and thanks to Amazon’s new Family Sharing system, you can share ebooks freely between two Kindles so you don’t have to buy a book twice. Multiple profiles can also be set up on the Voyage and with 4GB internal storage, every profile can be adequately populated with books. With adaptive brightness off, the battery will give you up to an impressive 24 hours of continuous reading.
- Compact, light and thin design
- Outstanding display quality
- Adaptive brightness adjustment
- PagePress buttons
- Great battery life
- Limited support for common ebook formats
- Internal Storage: 4GB
- Removable Storage: None
- 6 inch, pixels
- Fire OS 5
- 0.39 lbs
With its attractive design, gorgeous display and adaptive brightness, the Kindle Voyage is among the best e-readers out there. However, with cheaper devices like the new Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo HD matching its display quality, it is hard to sell it as good value for the money
The Kobo Aura ONE, with its rubberized and textured finish on the back, is a larger e-reader, packing a 7.8-inch e-ink 1,872×1,404 resolution display. Most of Amazon’s Kindles come with a 6-inch display, so it is significantly larger than its competition, and this was a huge selling point for some. The Aura ONE, much like the Aura H20, is waterproof (IPX8: up to two meters for 60 minutes), so using it nears large bodies of water is not an issue. It comes with 8GB of storage space and a 1Ghz processor and users have noted that it’s UI is easy to get the hang of and highly customizable. Kobo’s ComfortLight PRO allows you to adjust both the brightness and the color temperature. Some users have pointed out that there seems to be uneven lighting at times, however, which can be quite annoying. The integrated Kobo Store allows you to shop for e-books, but the list of books available is not as vast as Amazon’s, but there are always ways to convert AZW into a compatible format. CNet have also pointed out that the OverDrive also offers users a selection of books through the online library. It supports PDF, EPUB and MOBI, and HTML and comic book file format. Its desktop app will allow you easily manage your files, which you can connect to via the Micro-USB slot. Kubo mentions that the battery life can last up to a month, but most find that it is significantly reduced when connected to Wi-Fi. The Aura ONE offers users a larger screen and the same waterproofing as the Aura H20, however, Kindle still has a larger selection of books.
The Aura ONE offers users a larger screen and the same waterproofing as the Aura H20, however, Kindle still has a larger selection of books.
With that, our buying guide comes to a close. Surely you now have enough information of what it’s like out there, and buying an ebook reader will definitely not be challenging.
Amazon Kindles are keen with the design, screen quality and populated bookstores, but most of the others strike a compromise on these things to offer better value for the money. However, since no device is perfect, each one has its own ups and downs. It is therefore up to you to weigh your choices and make a sound decision based on your needs as well as your budget. If you require more help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to assist.