Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

Summary: Since the sales of ebooks and the use of e-readers are exploding, we've put together this list of the top 10 e-readers, along with a companion photo gallery.


According to Amazon, ebook sales have already surpassed hardback book sales and will surpass paperbacks sometime in 2011, and then both hardback and paperback combined sometime shortly thereafter. That's a much faster timeline than most of us expected and it speaks to how fast the e-reader market is accelerating.

With that in mind, we'd like to help TechRepublic readers in selecting an e-reader, since many of you are using them not just for reading books but business documents as well. Take a look at our photo gallery of the top 10 e-readers. You can also read the list in text format below.

1. Apple iPad

The premier e-reading device is the Apple iPad, for two reasons: 1.) Its high-quality full color screen, and 2.) It's ability to handle everything from ebooks (from multiple ebook stores and in multiple formats), magazines, PDFs, newspapers, web pages, emails, and many other electronic files. It's the information omnivore's device. If you just want to read books, there are better options.

2. Amazon Kindle

If you're only interested in books and newspapers and don't want the distraction and expense of all that other stuff on the iPad, then the Amazon Kindle is the best choice. The third generation Kindle was just released in August and it is smaller, thinner, and less expensive than ever. And, the Kindle ecosystem is bigger than ever, with Kindle apps on iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, PCs, and Macs so that you can read and sync your Kindle ebooks across lots of different devices.

3. Barnes & Noble Nook

Brick and mortar bookseller Barnes & Noble has gotten into the e-reader mix with the Nook. You can try one out at a kiosk in one of its book stores. The device itself has a much more clunky experience than the Kindle or the iPad, but it offers the largest ebook library with over a million titles (Amazon offers 700,000).

4. Apple iPhone

Not to be overlooked as an e-reader is the iPhone. You can read Kindle and Barnes & Noble ebooks on it as well as lots of news sources via apps and web pages. You may not want to sit down and read on it for hours, it's great for reading when standing in lines, waiting at the doctor's office, and traveling, for example. You'd be surprised at how much reading you can get done just by using these short snatches of time.

5. Borders Kobo

The Kobo is Borders' answer to its chief rivals Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the e-reader race. It's a lightweight, low-cost device that does a good job of syncing with a PC and reading ebook files that can be loaded from your PC (including ones from the Borders ebook store) but doesn't offer wireless book buying like Amazon and Barnes & Nobile. It also doesn't do highlighting or note-taking.

6. Sony Reader, Touch Edition (PRS-650)

Possibly the most elegant e-reader is the Sony Reader Touch, with its metal exterior, ultra-slim form factor, and integrated touchscreen. Like the Kobo you'll have to transfer ePub and PDF files to the Sony Reader Touch from a PC. But, the Sony includes annotation ability, even freehand drawing notes on the touchscreen using the included stylus.

7. Amazon Kindle DX

Amazon's oversized Kindle, the DX, is made for people who read larger format books or simply want more screen space to read regular books. You'll pay for that extra space since the Kindle DX is over twice as much as the smaller standard Kindle. This is a niche product aimed primarily at textbooks for students.


Just as we talked about the iPhone as an e-reader, we also have to keep in mind that Android phones can be effectively used as e-readers as well. Like the iPhone, the three major ebook stores -- Kindle, Nook, and Kobo -- all have apps for Android. The best of the Android phones, in my opinion, is the HTC EVO 4G and its large 4.3-inch screen make a great e-reader as well. Other top Android choices for e-reading: Samsung Vibrant and Motorola Droid X.

9. Spring Design Alex

The Alex is an e-reader that runs Android. It looks fairly similar to the B&N Nook (and Spring Design has sued B&N over that) in that it combines an e-ink screen for reading and a touchscreen at the bottom. But, the Alex is a little more sophisticated, not nearly as sluggish as the Nook, and a lot more expensive. It's an interesting experiment in e-reading nonetheless.

10. Pandigital Novel

Another interesting e-reader that we're starting to see in a lot more retail stores is the Pandigital Novel. At first glance, it actually bears some resemblance to the iPad -- although it has a lot more plastic and the screen size is only 7-inches (vs. 10 inches on the iPad). Like the Alex, it's based on Android. It's not nearly as polished of an experience as the iPad, but it's much cheaper and it's still an attractive touchscreen e-reader with a lot of future potential.

Honorable mentions: Copia Ocean and Bookeen Cybook

This article was originally published on TechRepublic.

Topics: Amazon, Android, Google, Hardware, iPad, Mobility

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  • How did the Kobo rank above the Sony?

    Was it price alone? The Kobo feels cheap so I was wondering about the rank.
  • Apple at number one?

    Seriously, a reading device that only works well indoors made number one? Are you clinically insane?
    • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

      @trickytom3 Or are you just disappointed/annoyed that an Apple product is number one? Jason gave sound reasons [i]why[/i] he placed the iPad at number one. If your read the entire blog post, you'd have seen him say that kindle is actually better for reading books, but for the shear amount of formats supported [i]and[/i] the fact that it has a color screen (can be handy), iPad is number one. Is that [i]really[/i] hard to comprehend, or as a fanboi, can you not get beyond your hate?
      • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

        @webmaster@... I do not get his order either, his statement @ the end of the iPad indicates it is not the best e-reader "If you just want to read books, there are better options."
      • Master Joe Says...Context

        @webmaster@... This is an article about e-readers. Anything else that the iPad can do is completely unnecessary in this context. So, if the iPad is not the best e-Reader, then it should nto be listed at #1. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the Kindle, and do think the color screen is a big deal. I am legally blind, and the e-ink displays just don't work well for me, even on enlarged font sizes. But, I'm in the minority there, and see the Kindle as being ahead of the iPad as an e-reader, and JUST an e-reader. If you factor in the other stuff the iPad can do, then you are talking tablets, and comparing the Kindle to a tablet is apples to oranges. Then, the Dell Streek and other TABLETS would have to come into the mix. But, notice that the iPad is the ONLY multi-purpose device on a list of dedicated e-readers? That is what I think the above poster's point was, and I agree with him.

        --Master Joe
      • If you read the title...

        @webmaster@... <br><br>The article aims to find the best e-reader; not the best "all-around" device. It's like saying that Chevrolet makes the best air-conditioner because you can also drive it around town.<br><br>The iPad can't be read outdoors, which is a pretty big flaw for an e-reader.
      • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

        @webmaster@... your right. Since this article is about e-readers alone. The other features of the iPad are irrelevant. Also I want to know how the iPhone has a better rank than the evo 4g. Because it has a bigger screen, more storage, the same apps for reading (if anything the evo might support more formats), and has multitasking, so you can do other thing while you are reading.
    • I agree...

      The iPad is an eReader in same regard as my computer or Droid X. Its a multi-purpose device, not an eReader.

      Clearly the Kindle should be number one with its flexibility to locate on virtually any device (PC, iPhone, Andoid, Kindle eReader, etc.). The Amazon Kindle store is amazing in its ease-of-use, speed on *FREE* 3G connectivity and super easy to set up Wifi. It hits it out of the park on all fronts. Its truly a "suite" of components that make it very unique in the industry.

      There is nothing else like the Kindle and its a shame the author displays his bias toward Apple to anoint the iPad the best eReader when clearly it is nothing more than a small PC.
      • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

        @ryork272 - The Kindle does hit a lot of home runs, but strikes out on 3 pitches regarding ePub books. Until I can use a Kindle to check out books from my local library (which uses both PDF and ePub formats) I won't get one. My current reader is a Sony personal edition, which has MANY faults but can use ePub books. BTW, Sony still has not fixed the firmware issue that causes books to be temporarily locked when going back and forth between PDF and ePub books.
      • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

        @ryork272 its actually lacking too much to be considered a small pc. It's actually an oversized ipod touch.
      • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

        Kindle 3 can be used to read PDFs, though the format does not allow for text flowing to fit the display as eBook versions do.
      • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

        @ryork272 <br>If those are your reasons, then the nook should be up there. It has PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. apps as well. It has an amazing store as well, boasting more book choices and ease of use. It runs on "*FREE*" 3G and had wifi first. And to add on top of that, it can also read more formats - the most important of which is epub, allowing the use of local libraries/other ebook stores and better formatting options than PDFs. Basically, the nook matches the Kindle on those items and then adds more, such as free in-store reading and book lending.<br><br>The Kindle is good, but not always the best. The iPad definitely should not have been on the top either way though, since this is about e-readers and not multi-purpose devices. If that was the case, I'd say my laptop with multiple operating systems, reading programs, production software, and unhindered internet use would be up there.
  • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

    @webmaster - as you say, read -- in this case the headline. This is supposed to be about e-readers, not all the other things it might do, assuming you want them. Kindle has never been intended to be about anything but reading. Not better or worse, just different.
  • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

    Nook has a clumsy interface ???? Have you ever tried it and a Kindle talk about clunky. Also the Nook supports multiple formats. At least with the Nook you get page numbers(Kindle NO) also it has a go to page feature.
  • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

    Why is little thought or discussion put into what readers preferred before ebooks arrived? Most readers went for fairly plain and small books, especially while traveling; certainly you never saw coffee-table monstrosities, which were primarily for flipping through in your living room. People wanted cheap and conveniently small. They still do.
    • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

      @geneven Speak for yourself! I love coffee table books and books that offer me more than the written word. Sure that is fine when reading fiction, but when I'm reading a book on gardening or a cookbook I want lot's of pictures to spark my imagination and help me to understand the possibilities of doing something a certain way. When a reader comes out that can do all of this, then I will buy it in a heartbeat...until then, will wait...
  • Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

    The Pandigital Novel has more features than what is stated here. First it has a colorful scree instead of the dull black/white, as most e-readers have. It is also a MP3 player, a picture viewer and a web browser. So you can have more fun besides reading ......
    • And so is the iPad ...

      @johnnychow8@ ... the difference is the price-points. Dedicated devices can be easier for the consumer to use. Non-dedicated devices offer the more sophisticated consumer more choices. Readers of this blog are in the latter group.

      The vendor who wins is the one who can deliver a rock-solid dedicated device at a reasonable price (soon to be ~$100) for the entry-level consumer and who can also deliver their code to more sophisticated devices. Right now, that's Amazon, Apple, and Sony. And maybe the nook.

      Whether any of the others are around in a year remains to be seen.
      M Wagner
  • 4.3-inch LCDs are a game changer

    I borrowed a Droid X for a couple minutes and found book reading practical and pleasant. For many of us, the 4.3-inch screen found on the X and other new smartphones has eliminated the most compelling argument for "needing" a tablet.
  • RE: Ready to ditch paper? Here are the 10 best e-readers

    Doesn't the iTouch work as well as the iPhone as an ebook reader? Cheaper -- but not necessarily always with you, since it isn't a phone...