So, you wanna buy an eReader? The truth is, even with the advent of smartphones and tablets, eReaders are here to stay. The devices still offer more advantages than a smartphone, such as special screens for extended reading without straining the eyes.
Most eReaders feature a no-frills design, are light (with a weight of around 200g) and relatively affordable. The best part is that eReaders have a longer battery life than phones, which translates to weeks of use. Almost every model comes with a six-inch e-Ink screen, which is nothing like the LCD screen of a tablet or smartphone.
That said, if you are scouring the market for an eReader, you need to keep a few things in mind. You must know which files the devices you intend to buy supports. Check if it can handle files such as RTF, TXT, or ePub.
The device’s connectivity is essential too. Ensure that its cellular connection can allow you to download content while on the go. A memory card slot will come in handy as it boosts the eReaders capacity for storage of videos, music and other media.
Most importantly, check the content. Some manufacturers, such as Amazon, restrict their devices to their own bookstores. Some, like Kobo eReaders, allows you to browse other stores.
Below, we'll break down the most popular eReaders and what makes them stand out -- or fall behind the crowd.
Best Overall eReader: Kindle PaperWhite
The Amazon Kindle PaperWhite offers an outstanding eight weeks of battery life on regular use with a reading experience superseding that of a tablet. In fact, as far as readability goes, this eReader can match the Kindle Voyage at 330ppi (pixels per inch). It features a crisp, black and white screen with a distinct contrast, with no glare even in direct sunlight. The PaperWhite is ideal for late night reads, with its four integrated LED lights.
The Bookerly font reduces eyestrain for faster reading. This font is justifiably crisp, contemporary, and easy to read. Plus, the PaperWhite doesn't have a lot of extras and is simple to operate, making it a great choice for older people. The typesetting engine is remarkably responsive, which translates to fewer misplaced letters and purged words.
While it is relatively slow to navigate this eReader, you can always browse the Kindle bookstore via a laptop or your smartphone and send an eBook wirelessly to your gadget. At almost half a pound, the PaperWhite is not one of the lightest eReaders on the market but is light enough that handling it isn’t much of a hassle. It doesn’t have a microSD slot but comes with up to 4GB of internal memory, allowing you to store thousands of eBooks.
Close Second: Kobo Aura H2O
The Kobo Aura H20 will take your experience with eReaders to the next level. It is one of the very few waterproof (with a certification of IP67) eReaders. It is dustproof as well. One thing that sets this device apart from other units in its class is the no-glare 6.8 inches screen that reads like a regular printed paper. The ClarityScreen+ technology allows you to use the Kobo even when the sun shines directly on it.
While the Kobo Aura H20’s readability is not in question, its resolution is not one of the best. Nonetheless, at 265ppi, it isn’t that bad. This eReader won’t strain your eyes, thanks to the ComfortLight technology that works by steering light away from your eyes and directs it onto the screen. Be sure to choose from the 24 size font options when your eyes start to get tired.
The Kobo Aura H20 professes a better reading experience. It allows you to make notes or highlight passages to avoid missing anything. All you need to do is to click on a word, and the device will define it! On the downside, using this eReader with the library is not as smooth as you’d expect. You'll have to connect your Kobo to a laptop with a USB cord to download library books.
Best for Android Users: B&N Nook GlowLight Plus
First things first – the B&N Nook GlowLight Plus comes with a crisp six-inch screen, and a 330ppi E-ink backlit display. With such features, it could very well rival most Amazon Kindles. If the Kindle PaperWhite size doesn’t do it for you, this eReader could make a great alternative. It is lighter too despite having an identical screen and resolution to the PaperWhite.
The B&N Nook GlowLight Plus’s battery will give you up to six weeks of use. Just like the Kobo Aura H20, this eReader has an IP67 waterproof certification. It can remain underwater for about half an hour to ensure that accidents don’t slow you down while enjoying your favorite read.
Even though the GlowLight Plus may strain your eyes, it runs on the Android platform, giving you more control over your device. In essence, this means that you can install custom software and use third party apps such as
The B&N Nook GlowLight Plus online store may not be sensational, but it is moderately better than
Best Budget Pick: Amazon Fire
The Amazon Fire Tablet is arguably one of the best selling tablets of all time. It could as well be the eReader to go for if you’re on a tight budget. However, you get what you pay. Its performance is wanting and the display mediocre.
As you’d expect, it allows you access to Amazon’s online bookstore and also doubles up as a multimedia device. You can use it to browse the web, play music, and watch videos as well as a host of other things with Android apps. Unfortunately, the Fire is fairly slow and can be buggy. And since it's an Amazon app, you don't have full access to the Google Store - just the Amazon app marketplace.
The Fire Tablet has a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels which is nowhere near high definition. This means that you may strain your eyes with extended use. The screen is luminous to give you a comfortable view indoors. The color range is limited too, with a prevalent green hue on the screen.
If you’re a frugal shopper or don’t care about the latest technology, the Fire Tablet is indeed an attractive option. Unlike the PaperWhite, though, the Fire Tablet is not a great option for the more technologically challenged.