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The best e-readers: Kindle, Kobo, and more

What is the best e-reader? Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is our expert choice for its 10-week battery life, wireless charging, and auto-adjusting light. We analyzed display, storage, battery life, and usability below.

Books take up a lot of space, but an e-reader can allow you to carry hundreds of books (along with audiobooks) in a small, convenient form factor.

Also, unlike smartphones and tablets, e-readers are fitted with e-ink displays and look -- and even feel -- like paper. They're glare-free and are suited to both indoor and outdoor reading. E-ink displays even feature a subtle backlight, which means that you can read in bed without needing a light on.

Combine this with a battery life measured in weeks, and you have the perfect device to replace your big, chunky books.

A close-up of someone using the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition to read a book while camping.
Amazon

Amazon's newest e-reader offers the ultimate e-reader experience.

Tech specs:

  • Beautiful 6.8-inch 300 ppi glare-free display that looks just like paper
  • Adjustable warm light
  • Auto-adjusting light for the right reading experience for you
  • 32GB of storage
  • No ads on the lock screen
  • Waterproof
  • 10-week battery life
  • USB-C and wireless charging

Pros:

  • Everything you could want from an e-reader
  • Solid and reliable

Cons:

  • Price
Close-up of a man in a knit beanie using the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite to read a book.
Amazon

A modern twist on the e-reader experience. It offers pretty much everything that the Signature Edition Paperwhite but comes with 8GB of storage. 

Tech Specs:

  • Beautiful 6.8-inch 300 ppi glare-free display that looks just like paper
  • Adjustable warm light
  • 8GB of storage
  • Waterproof
  • 10-week battery life
  • USB-C charging

Pros:

  • Better price point than the Signature Edition

Cons:

  • No ads option available for $20 extra
  • Price
A Kindle resting on a tan canvas bag next to a pair of sunglasses and smartphone.
Amazon

This is a great e-reader for those who want a cheap and cheerful device to throw into a bag for travel or keep next to the sofa for a quick read in the evening.

Tech Specs:

  • Purpose-built 6-inch 167 ppi glare-free display
  • 8GB of storage
  • Battery life measured in weeks

Pros:

  • Cheap price
  • A reliable, time-tested design

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • No ads option available for $20 extra
An older woman using a Kindle Kids Edition to read a story to her young granddaughter.
Amazon

Everything you get with the Amazon Kindle, with a few special options aimed at kids.

Tech Specs:

  • Purpose-built 6-inch 167 ppi glare-free display
  • 8GB of storage
  • Battery life measured in weeks

Pros:

  • None of the distractions of a smartphone or tablet
  • No ads
  • It also comes with 1 year of Amazon Kids+ (FreeTime Unlimited), a kid-friendly cover, and 2-year worry-free guarantee

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
Close-up of a woman sitting on a purple cushion and using a Kobo Nia to read a book.
Kobo

An alternative for those who don't want to be in the Amazon ecosystem.

Tech Specs:

  • 6-inch 212 ppi glare-free display
  • 8GB of storage
  • Battery life measured in weeks

Pros:

  • You're outside the Amazon ecosystem
  • No ads

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Not as cheap as the Amazon offering
Parital view of a man in a tan cardigan using a Kobo Elipsa to edit a student report.
Kobo

This is an e-reader with some significant differences compared to Amazon's Kindle line. A huge "tablet-sized" display and a stylus help set it apart.

Tech Specs:

  • Huge 10.3-inch 227 ppi glare-free display
  • Included Kobo Stylus allows you to write directly on the screen
  • 32GB of storage
  • Battery life measured in weeks

Pros:

  • Huge display
  • It comes with a handy stylus
  • No ads

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Not waterproof

What is the best e-reader?

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is the best e-reader due to its display and lighting options, as well as its battery life and user-friendliness.

Buy this...

If you need...

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

A well-rounded and affordable e-reader

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

An e-reader with the most features for the price

Amazon Kindle

A basic, budget-friendly e-reader

Amazon Kindle Kids

An e-reader with parental controls

Kobo Nia

An alternative to the Kindle e-readers from Amazon

Kobo Elipsa

An e-reader that also doubles as a drawing tablet

How did we choose these e-readers?

I read a lot, and that's allowed me to test all the devices in this listing.

Each product has been chosen because it offers a good reading experience:

  • The display is nice to look at for extended periods
  • The e-reader provides good battery life
  • The controls are easy and intuitive to use
  • The e-reader is durable enough to put up with being treated like a book

Product

Price

Screen size

Battery life

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

$190

6.8 inches

10 weeks

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

$140

6.8 inches

10 weeks

Amazon Kindle

$60

6 inches

4 weeks

Amazon Kindle Kids

$70

6 inches

4 weeks

Kobo Nia

$100

6 inches

2 weeks

Kobo Elipsa

$400

10.3 inches

2 weeks

Which e-reader is right for you?

If you like books, then an e-reader gives you the closest "book reading" experience while using an electronic device.

Also, if you're someone who likes to have multiple books on the go, then an e-reader helps to lighten the load -- whether you have one book or a hundred, the e-reader stays the same size and weight.

I also like the ability to change the page layout to suit me -- I can tweak the page layout and the font size, and I can even change the font to suit me.

My only remaining wish is that e-readers could smell like paper books!

Isn't a smartphone or tablet a good enough e-reader?

Well, maybe. I do read a lot on my iPhone or iPad, but I find that e-readers have three huge advantages:

  • The e-ink display is much nicer to look at, especially for extended periods of time
  • The battery life of e-readers is much better than any smartphone or tablet, lasting for weeks between recharges
  • There are far fewer distractions on an e-reader -- no emails, social media, phone calls, and so on

Are the ads on the "Ad-supported" Kindles annoying?

I don't find them to be annoying, but if you think that they will be, you can pay extra to make them go away.

How much storage does my e-reader need?

It depends. 8GB is cavernous for books but can fill up quickly if you start to add audiobooks. Also, if you want to keep every book and audiobook, you can find your storage getting full after a couple of years.

Which e-reader is best for your eyes?

That would be my pick for the best overall e-reader, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition. The screen is treated with an anti-glare coating to reduce reflections from overhead and ambient lighting, and it also features both warm and cool lighting to suit your comfort preferences. It even has an auto-adjustment light feature to reduce eye strain and discomfort during both the day and night.

If you want even more protection for your eyes while using an e-reader, you can check out our list of the best blue light blocking glasses.

Is there an e-reader that reads to you?

All Kindle branded e-readers have a feature called VoiceView that acts as a screen reader and text-to-speech software. You'll have to connect a Bluetooth speaker to your Kindle e-reader, since it doesn't have built-in audio output. Then to enable VoiceView, you'll hold down the power button for 9 seconds, then press 2 fingers (spaced slightly apart) on the screen for 1 second. It can take up to 2 minutes for your Kindle to fully enable VoiceView, which you'll activate by holding two fingers to the screen.

Are there alternative e-readers worth considering?

There are lots of options out there if you're looking for a way to read digital copies of your favorite books. Here's a short list of products I thought were great choices.



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