E-readers have been around for years now and unlike in the beginning, there are a number of options available on the market. We would like to see more companies making eReaders, but unfortunately, the market entry into this space requires a mammoth amount of work and investment. This is because a complete ecosystem hosting e-books is also required to be provided. Despite the limited number of options available on the market we fine pick the best eReader 2018 has to offer.

Although some may question the eReader practicality, it is more popular now than ever. There are multiple factors that made eReaders even a greater choice in 2018:

  • Screen designed for easy reading and less eyestrain
  • Glare resistant
  • Water resistant (some models)
  • Lighter and cheaper than a tablet
  • Long battery life (weeks long)
  • Book-like feel when reading

The days of Amazon Kindle being the only eReader option are long gone. The market now offers other alternatives, however not as many as we would like to. Given the alternatives available – should you still go for a Kindle or there is a better fit for you?

We have reviewed multiple eReaders and have shortlisted five. Additionally, we have picked the best eReader 2018 has to offer in each category and highlighted their cons and pros. At the end of the article, you will find a quick table summarising eReader features between all five models for easy comparison.

How to chose?

There are a number of factors you would need to consider when buying an eReader. Below I have listed some handy tips for you to consider.

Screen Size

It appears that the market has established the 6″ screen size to be the most popular amongst the readers. But don’t worry, if your screen size preferences are different, we have couple more options on our list that we would be happy to recommend.

Outdoor use

If you are someone who likes reading outside then sun glare and the water exposure may be important to you. If you like reading out on a sunny day, then having a screen that is glare resistant is a must. If on top of that you like reading on the beach or next to a pool, then some level of water resistance would be highly recommended.

Connection

Most eReaders these days come with Wi-Fi, so I’d be really staying away from the ones that don’t. The question is more about whether you need the cellular internet connection or not. I personally do not find this feature useful, as I never run out of books to read whilst on the move. In fact, I tend to upload the books on my eReader way in advance. For the ones that do have a need to download books whilst on the go – the cellular internet connection would be required.

Ecosystem

The downside of ebooks is that there are multiple different formats as there is no universally agreed format amongst the publishers yet. This means that your Kindle ebook would not work on Kobo’s or Barnes & Noble’s devices and vice versa.

There are also free or open formats such as ePub. You may know, but Google, for example, offers over a million of free books in that format. This is great, but if you are Kindle user – ePub is not supported as Amazon only allows books from Amazon ecosystem to be used. There are ways around it by using a third-party application, yet natively the ePub support does not come with Kindles.

Our suggestion is that you start by browsing the online stores such as Amazon, Kobo or Barnes & Noble to make sure that the types of books you like reading are available there. It is also handy to compare the prices to ensure you are getting a good deal as they vary between the stores.

eBook Apps

If you are planning to read books on multiple devices, such as your phone or tablet then you need to ensure that there is an application available for your device.

Price

Although the prices for eReaders have recently fallen, the price range is still significant. There are now eReaders available on the market for under $100, whereas the premium models can get close to $300. As most of the time, the price is driven by the features available, so you need to make sure that you are not buying an eReader that has some cool features that you will never use.

1. Amazon Kindle Oasis

The Bottom Line: The best Kindle ever made. If money is not an issue, this eReader is as good as it gets.

The Amazon Kindle Oasis is the new flagship product in Amazon’s e-readers line replacing the Kindle Voyage.

The first things you notice holding the eReader is the solid build quality and amazing ergonomics. Although the e-reader gets down to 0.13″ in thickness it still feels incredibly solid and sturdy. The narrow bezel and the premium materials such as the metal back and the soft cover give the Kindle Oasis a premium look and feel.

In addition, the Kindle Oasis is extremely comfortable. Holding the eReader in one hand is a breeze due to the right size, perfect balance, lightweight and tapered design.

The bump that forms the tapered design serves two purposes. It is your handle for one-hand reading as well as the expanded compartment for a bigger battery. Amazon claims that the battery allows for three weeks of reading given the 1-hour a day reads. Based on our testing, this claims appears to be true.

The Kindle Oasis features the biggest 7″ screen of any other Amazon Kindles. With 300 points per inch, the display quality is crisp and clear. The bigger screen gives you an additional paragraph (on average) per page which results in fewer page flips. It also makes the picture books and comics appear a lot more readable.

It is also the first Kindle made to get an IPX8 certification, which allows it to be submerged (up to six feet deep) in freshwater for up to an hour.

The e-reader comes with a number of fancy yet super practical features. First, it has a physical button to turn pages. Yes, this may be going back in time, yet when your hands are wet, unlike touchscreen, it works like a charm. In fact, after the prolonged use, we found ourselves using the button all the time as it is just so much more comfortable than a touchscreen.

Secondly, it has the ability to listen to your Audible audiobooks, which is simply amazing. I found myself using both as I am one of those readers who doesn’t have a strong format preference and likes switching between e-books and audiobooks. If you are like me, keep in mind that you would also need to have a pair of Bluetooth headphones as there is no 3.5mm jack.

Thirdly, it features the new adaptive 12-LED front light which automatically changes the brightness based on the environment. This is especially handy when reading at dusk or dawn time, indoors or outdoors.

Lastly, the white-on-black view feature which reverses the colors and makes the font white and background black may appeal to some. This is definitely not the feature for everyone, but I can see some people finding it very useful.

The innovative features listed above are actually not that innovative as most of them we have previously seen on Kobo Aura One, we do think however that Amazon has done a great job of taking those features and bringing them into the Amazon ecosystem.

Rounding up – the Kindle Oasis is the “Rolls Royce” of e-readers and the best e-reader the money can buy in the US. It is ergonomically designed, well built, lasts long and has all the features you could ever expect from an e-reader. In fact, its only competition in terms of features is the Kobo Aura One, but practically, it is not big enough in the US to compete with Amazon dominant market share. According to the e-book sales report, Amazon has 83% of the ebook market with Kobo taking only 0.3%. We like both e-readers equally well, but being in the US, we think it makes much more sense being part of the Amazon’s ecosystem than Kobo’s.

9/10

  • Design & Build Quality 100%
  • Features 95%
  • Battery Life 90%
  • Value 70%

Positive

Negative

Great design and build quality
Waterproof
Great screen
Lighweight
Long battery life
Expensive
Not able to read non-Amazon e-book formats out of the box

2. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The Bottom Line: The best value Kindle available. With $40 more than the basic Kindle and tons of extra features, the Kindle Paperwhite is worth every penny.

The Kindle Paperwhite is a big step forward compared to the previous model. It features some enhancements found in the Amazon’s flagship e-reader Kindle Oasis.

In terms of the look and feel, not much has changed compared to the original Paperwhite. The e-reader still looks and feels sturdy and solid. It still has a matte finish made of soft plastic that has plenty of grip making it quite comfortable to hold with one hand.

The things that have noticeably changed are the screen quality, performance and a tighter integration with the Amazon content ecosystem.

The third generation Kindle Paperwhite has inherited its screen from the Kindle Voyage which uses a 6-inch Carta E Ink HD touchscreen display with 300 pixels per inch density. Compared to the previous generation, this represents twice as many pixels being available on the same screen size, which ultimately results in a sharper and crisper display quality. This is especially noticeable when reading a smaller text size. Despite the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Voyage having the same display, the latter has higher levels of contrast which overall results in a slightly better display quality.

The additional benefit of the new E Ink screen is the improved energy efficiency, which gives Kindle Paperwhite up to 8 weeks of use on a single charge. It also makes it one of the most energy efficient e-readers on the market today. To further push the energy efficiency or to simply adjust your comfort level you could change the level of lightning produced by four built-in LEDs. The backlight, however, is not as evenly distributed as on Kindle Voyage or Kindle Oasis which have 8 and 12 backlight LEDs respectively.

The new Kindle Paperwhite also comes with an updated software including the new Bookerly font. It was specifically designed for use on digital devices with improved character spacing, justification, kerning, hyphenation and capital letter support. It supposedly allows the user to read faster and reduce eyestrain.

Talking about drawbacks, the main complaint with Kindle Paperwhite, and all Kindles for that matter is their total dependency on Amazon’s ecosystem. I still don’t quite understand why Amazon would not make it easy for us and integrate the support for ePub files which would allow reading free books, including the ones from Google. Don’t get me wrong – it can be done by installing a third party application, but should it really be that hard?

The Kindle Paperwhite is not the most sophisticated e-reader but a great all-rounder. It has a solid build quality, great screen and an amazing battery life. It is also quite comfortable despite being the heaviest Amazon Kindle in the line. If the additional ounce of weight is a deal breaker, then there are other options to chose from, otherwise, the Kindle Paperwhite is a consistent performer that represents an amazing value for the money.

8.6/10

  • Design & Build Quality 90%
  • Features 75%
  • Battery Life 90%
  • Value 90%

Positive

Negative

High resolution, crisp display quality
Improved performance
Great value
Long lasting battery
No adaptive backlight
Quite light on features
Cheapest package comes with ads

3. Amazon Kindle Voyage

The Bottom Line: The ex-flagship Kindle at a reduced price. It represents a good value for someone who needs a premium Kindle with physical page turn buttons.

With almost double the asking price of Kindle Paperwhite, you might be asking if the additional cost of buying the Kindle Voyage has its merits? Additionally, there is a new flagship in Amazon’s line – Kindle Oasis, so how does the Voyage fit in the new e-readers landscape? Let’s find out.

The Kindle Voyage shares the screen with its lesser siblings, yet delivers better levels of contrast which improves the readability slightly.

It has the 6″ screen that produces 300 points per inch and a crystal clear display quality as a result. In fact, the display makes the reading experience so good that this is the closest we’ve seen to a real book.

To further improve the readers’ experience, especially in the dark, Amazon has integrated an adaptive backlight level adjustment into the Kindle Voyage. There is a sensor on the device that takes the external light reading and adjusts the screen backlight level accordingly. You can change the backlight level manually, but the automated system works so well that we never felt a need for it. The backlight is supported by 6 LEDs, which is two more than you get on the Kindle Paperwhite. This results in a more even backlight distribution across the screen.

The battery life has always been a strong side of Amazon Kindles. It has slightly taken a punch due to the backlight being introduced, yet still remains quite solid providing the Kindle Voyage with up to 6 weeks of reading time given it used for 30 minutes a day on average.

Unlike its lesser siblings, the Kindle Voyage supports PagePress controls. Those are physical controls that trigger the page flip by applying the pressure on each side of the e-reader. We did find it clunky at first, but within minutes it became a second nature and we have genuinely found them to be practical and useful.

The Kindle Voyage looks and feels great as it really is a great e-reader in every respect. It is the lightest Kindle in our review which makes it comfortable to use with one hand. It has PagePress controls to flip pages, which we have really enjoyed. In fact, for some, it would be a good enough reason to pick Kindle Voyage over Kindle Paperwhite. With everything else, it is a small step forward compared to the Kindle Paperwhite and ‘small’ is the word. Being almost double the price of the Kindle Paperwhite and only $50 less expensive than the feature loaded Kindle Oasis – we see very little reason picking the Kindle Voyage over Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Oasis.

7.8/10

  • Design & Build Quality 80%
  • Features 80%
  • Battery Life 90%
  • Value 60%

Positive

Negative

Amazing screen quality
Great page turning controls
Comfortable for one hand use
Reliable and even backlight
Hard to justify the price

4. Kobo Aura One

The Bottom Line: The most feature-packed e-reader on the market. Amazing reading experience in any conditions if Amazon ecosystem is not a must for you.

You may not have heard a lot about Kobo due to the Amazon Kindle dominant position in the US market. For the rest of the world, the picture looks slightly different as people use Kobo’s e-readers more an more and it is rapidly gaining popularity.

We actually have a deep respect for Kobo as it is a highly innovative company. You will find that many new features that you see today on Kindles have actually first appeared on Kobo’s e-readers. Larger screen size or water-resistant body, just to name a few.

The Aura One is the flagship e-reader in Kobo’s line up. It has a solid build quality and the design with a strong durability focus. The back of the device has a rubberized, textured finish that makes it more comfortable to grip and hold the e-reader with one hand.

The Aura One features a 7.8″ screen with simply amazing display quality. With 1872 x 1404 resolution and 300 pixels per inch – it packs more pixels than any other e-reader on the market. The text is crisp whether you use it in the shade or in the sun. Though the screen size may not appeal to everyone, I personally found it to be perfect for my reading experience.

It is also quite enjoyable to use at night time. The Aura One has an integrated backlight which automatically adapts to your environment. Although it works and it works well, I feel the backlight is not evenly spread with more light being available at the bottom of the screen.

One of the newer additions is the night mode, which gives your screen an orange shade to reduce the strain on your eyes. This may not be for everyone, yet some users may find it quite useful.

The user interface is slick, clean and intuitive. The home screen displays the details of the current book you are reading as well as articles that you have saved in your Pocket account. Overall, it feels more user-friendly and informative compared to Kindle e-readers.

The biggest advantage that Aura One has over any Kindle e-reader is the support of open ebook formats such as ePub, PDF or Mobi. It allows you to host all your ebooks in one place irrespective of where they came from.

The areas where the Aura One seems to underperform is actually the Kobo’s ecosystem. It is not as dynamic, offer-rich or complete. it also appears to be less competitive in terms of the price compared to Amazon (at least the books I’ve checked).

In terms of battery life, the Aura One can last up to a month on a single charge. This is not the most outstanding result we have seen, yet more than sufficient for a practical use.

Whilst Kobo e-readers are still making their name in the US, I think they deserve a lot more attention than they currently have. The build quality is great, the screen is crisp and the user interface is slick. The Aura One is probably one of the most feature-rich e-readers on the market which also delivers one of the best reading experiences out there. I really wanted to recommend the Aura One as the best e-reader of 2018, yet their ecosystem is just not as mature as Amazon’s. Before you make a decision to buy Aura One, I suggest you drop by their online store and check the books you are interested in. Make sure that not only the selection is there but also the prices are being competitive. I found some books to be more and some to be less expensive than on Amazon. If you are happy with the books and prices in Kobo’s online store, I can ensure you that you will be more than delighted with Aura One as it probably is the best e-reader the money can buy today.

8.5/10

  • Design & Build Quality 90%
  • Features 90%
  • Battery Life 80%
  • Value 80%

Positive

Negative

Water resistant
Big screen, crystal clear display quality
Clean and intuitive user interface
Support any ebook format
Blue light night mode
No page turning buttons
A little too expensive
Ecosystem not as strong as Amazon

5. Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight 3

The Bottom Line: The ultra-practical and comfortable e-reader which beats Kindle Paperwhite, as long as Barnes & Noble is your library of choice.

The Nook Glowlight 3 is the latest e-reader from  Barnes & Noble. The device is positioned as a mid-level model, which makes the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite its direct competitor.

Unlike its older sibling – the Nook Glowlight Plus, the Nook Glowlight 3 looks and feels basic, which actually happens to play to its advantage. It does not have an aluminum body, glass screen or water resistance rating, yet what it does have is a stunning level of practicality for indoor reading. Perhaps the best we’ve seen in e-readers so far.

The Nook Glowlight 3 features a 300 ppi screen which we have previously seen in Nook Glowlight Plus. The display quality is crisp and has a real paperback book feel. The screen is complemented by an advanced backlight system which has 7 white and 6 yellow LED lights. Not only the 13 LEDs result in an even light distribution across the screen, they also allow the e-reader to change the tone from cool white to warm orange in order to make your night reading experience more pleasant. The tone adjustment can be done manually or you could let the Nook Glowlight 3 seamlessly adjust it for you. It does not have the ambient light sensors to control the tone level, as it uses the timezones and time of the day instead.

The large screen bezel initially looked dated to us, yet we have quickly changed our minds as soon as we have started using it. The thicker bezel has actually allowed the placement of two physical page turn buttons on each side. Tapping the buttons flips the pages forward or backward, whereas double tapping flips the whole chapters. We have actually liked those buttons so much, that despite it being such a simple feature – it made all the difference for us.

The Nook Glowlight 3 also comes with an updated software which improves the user experience. The user interface has adopted a flat design coupled with higher resolution graphics. The book shopping experience has also been improved and became quite robust and clean.

The e-reader has the Barnes and Noble Readouts integrated, which allows the readers to discover new books by featuring author interviews, previews and free content. It also supports EPUB format which opens the door to so many free ebooks out there.

Like any device, the Nook Glowlight 3 has its flaws. Although it supports the PDF format, the experience it delivers is poor and inconsistent. The e-reader takes too long to respond to the zoom commands or sometimes does not even register them. If you are planning to extensively use PDF files, the Nook Glowlight 3 is probably a suboptimal choice.

Overall, the rubbery coating, lightweight design and thick bezel with physical buttons have created an exceptional level of comfort and ergonomics. The reading experience is also great, especially at night. The e-reader works equally well with the books downloaded from the free public resource or Barnes & Noble library. The comfort light feature is truly an icing on the cake, which completes the Nook Glowlight 3 as one of the best e-readers for internal use we have ever reviewed.

In fact, if we had to put the ecosystem preference to the side, we found Nook Glowlight 3 to provide a more pleasant reading experience than Kindle Paperwhite, which is quite a statement to make.

8.8/10

  • Design & Build Quality 90%
  • Features 90%
  • Battery Life 80%
  • Value 90%

Positive

Negative

Crisp display quality
Comfortable and ergonomic fit
Physical page turn buttons work exceptionally well
Backlight system is amongst the best on the market
Supports ePub format
PDF support is subpar
Slow performance at times

Feature Comparison

Amazon Kindle Oasis Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Amazon Kindle Voyage Kobo Aura One Nook Glowlight 3
Screen Size 7″ 6″ 6″ 7.8″ 6″
Resolution 300 ppi 300 ppi 300 ppi 300 ppi 300 ppi
Storage 8 or 32 Gb 4Gb 4Gb 8Gb 8Gb
Built-in Light Yes – 12 LEDs Yes – 4 LEDs Yes – 6 LEDs Yes – ComfortLight Pro Yes – 13 LEDs,  6 White and 7 Yellow
Page Turns Touchscreen + button Touchscreen Touchscreen + page press Touchscreen Touchscreen + buttons
Battery Life up to 6 weeks up to 8 weeks up to 6 weeks up to 4 weeks up to 6 weeks
Connectivity Wi-Fi + Cellular Wi-Fi + Cellular Wi-Fi + Cellular Wi-Fi Wi-Fi
Waterproof Yes – IPX8 No No Yes – IPX8 No
EPUB suport No No No Yes Yes
Audible Yes No No No No
Weight 6.8 oz 7.6 oz 6.6 oz 8.11 oz 6.5 oz
Dimensions 6.3″ x 5.6″ x 0.33″ 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ 6.4″ x 4.5″ x 0.3″ 7.68″ × 5.45″ × 0.27″ 6.93″ × 5.0″ × 0.38″
SCORE 9 8.6 7.8 8.5 8.8
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