Ever since the first ebook reader with an E-Ink screen came out, reading on electronic devices became an entirely different experience. For the first time, you can read an entire book cover to cover on an electronic display while going as easy on the eyes as when you read a traditional paperback book.
Suffice to say, electronic paper technology has made ebook readers a genuinely desirable option for people who consume a lot of printed matter. They allow you to read for long periods without hurting your eyes; they let you store hundreds, if not thousands, of book at a time; and they make getting new books easy with their wireless connectivity. You don’t have to spend a lot money on books, either, as many ebook readers have baked in integration with public libraries and free book repositories, giving you access to countless reading materials at no cost.
These are the best ebook readers today.
Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4e
While it doesn’t offer the same rich features as a Kindle or a Kobo, B&N’s refreshed e-readers allow for a satisfying reading experience all the same. The 6-inch paper-like display on this model is sharp and glare-free, while an auto-adjusting always-on light lets you read comfortably in bright and dimly-lit situations alike. It has large bezels that make it easy to hold the reader in hand, with a pair of physical buttons on one side allowing you to physically turn the pages on a book, while touchscreen controls allow you to tap and swipe your way through your library. There’s 8GB of onboard storage, although only 5GB is available for your actual library (including sideloaded content), as well as wireless connectivity and cloud storage (for books purchased through Barnes & Noble). It only supports ePub and PDF, though, so you’ll want to perform conversions if you have other ebook formats in your collection.
Amazon Kindles are, arguably, the best e-readers around and this one is our favorite of the lot. For one, the hardware is topnotch, with a 6.8-inch e-paper display, auto-adjusting front light for reading in the dark, and IPX8 waterproofing, so you can read while lounging in a tub with no worries. It’s very responsive, too, allowing you to read without awkward pauses. Of course, it has built-in access to Amazon’s store, so you can buy any book you need right off the bat, as well as Overdrive integration, making it just as easy to check out ebooks from public libraries. The standard model has 8GB of onboard storage, which is enough to keep thousands of books onboard, as well as Bluetooth, so you can pair to headphones if you prefer to listen to an audiobook instead. The biggest knock on Kindles have always been the lack of support for the ePub file format, which is the standard for most non-Amazon ebook sources. This year, though, they added a feature that automatically converted ePub books to AZW format when you use the Send to Kindle function, making it a viable option for folks who have an ebook collection in the popular format. If you need something with larger storage capacity, the Paperwhite has a 32GB Signature edition that costs $50 more.
Kobo offers a line of ebook readers comparable to the Kindle in terms of hardware quality and features, making it arguably the best recourse for people who plan to read books in ePub format. Our favorite of their current roster is the Libra 2, which has a 7-inch E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen, adjustable front light, and blue light reduction technology for truly pleasant reading experience. It has 32GB of onboard storage, which is large enough to hold up to 24,000 books, as well as IPX8 waterproofing, wireless connectivity, and a large bezel with physical page turning buttons on one side for a more secure grip. It also has Overdrive built-in for easy access to public libraries, as well as access to Kobo’s book store. Additionally, it’s a more open device that allows access to all sorts of online booksellers and supports practically every format, including Amazon’s AZW and older formats like MOBI, allowing you to purchase your ebooks anywhere you can find them.
If you want a larger e-reader that’s a better fit for consuming textbooks and workbooks, you’ll want to check out the Scribe. With a 10.2-inch Paperwhite screen, it allows you to display the large pages of textbooks without shrinking the layout too much, making it a better way to read the charts, tables, and illustrations frequently found in those materials. It does that while retaining the same qualities that made smaller Kindles so good, including the sharp display (300 ppi), auto-adjusting front light, and fast rendering of pages. More than a large e-reader, it also supports writing on the paper-like panel using the included stylus that magnetically attaches to the side. Writing on the Scribe actually feels natural, with surprisingly imperceptible lag, allowing you to use it as a digital notebook. While you can use the stylus to annotate PDF files and documents, you can’t quite do the same for ebooks in Amazon’s proprietary format. It’s available in 16GB and 32GB versions.
The Elipsa is Kobo’s Scribe alternative, offering both the large screen size (10.3 inches), stylus support, and 32GB of storage. The E-Ink display is not quite as sharp as the Scribe at only 227 ppi, which does make a noticeable difference, although the display quality remains good enough (just not as good as the Scribe). While it doesn’t quite deliver the same writing experience as you get from an iPad, you can jot down notes pretty comfortably, allowing you to use it as a functional digital notebook. Unlike the Scribe, it allows you to annotate not just PDF files, but also ePub books. However, the annotations on ePub books are only available on the e-reader, as they won’t carry over when you transfer the files somewhere else. The annotations, however, can stay permanently for PDF files.
While reading books on a regular ebook reader is great, it’s not quite the same experience for comic books, as traditional ebook readers limit you to grayscale reproductions of the full-color panels. That’s not the case with this pricey reader, whose 7.8-inch E-Ink Kaleido Plus screen can show 4,096 colors, making it a better experience for consuming comic books and graphic novels. It’s not the smoothest e-reader, by the way, as it retains the slower rendering of epaper panels, so you will experience a bit of a lag every time you turn the page. When rendering in color, it can only produce images in 624 x 468 resolution, so you won’t get the sharpest images, either. For grayscale content, it can render in sharper 1872 x 1404 pixels. Apart from being an ebook reader, this functions as a full-fledged tablet running Android 11 with full access to the Play Store, although you’ll probably want to stick to reading-focused apps due to the aforementioned slower loading speeds of the E-Ink panel. Oh yeah, they threw in a stylus, so you can use it for taking notes, too. Is it a fully-realized color e-reader experience? No, that’s why you don’t see Amazon or Kobo releasing color readers, yet. However, it is one of the best options if you want an ebook reader with a color screen today.