eReaders have been around for years now and unlike before, but with early Amazon dominance, there were not many other alternatives, until now.
Despite more options being available, we would like to see more companies making ebook readers, but unfortunately, the market entry into this space requires a mammoth amount of work and investment, hence the limited competition and weakening, but nevertheless – Amazon dominance.
Despite that, the days of Amazon Kindle devices 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 device or there is a better fit for you?
We have reviewed multiple eBook readers and have shortlisted seven of the best eBook readers currently on the market in each price category and highlighted their cons and pros. At the end of the article, you will find a quick table summarising eReader features in detail or a quick summary table right below.
|Image||Screen size / Storage / Page Turn Controls / Battery Life|
|Best Kindle Ever Made – Kindle Oasis (Editor’s Choice)|
|The top Kindle in the line up. Great build quality, waterproof, ergonomic design and the richest set of features in the Kindle range.|
|Best Value Kindle – Kindle Paperwhite|
|Great all-around mid-level Kindle that has all the features to make an average reader happy. Best battery amongst Kindles.|
|Best Paperwhite Alternative – Kobo Clara HD|
|A very capable and lightweight eBook reader with a comfortable grip, adjustable backlight and a crisp HD screen. Almost identical in price and features to the latest Kindle Paperwhite, but uses Kobo ecosystem.|
|Best eReader Overall – Kobo Aura One|
|Premium eReader with the second biggest screen in our review. Crisp and high-resolution display quality. Feature packed and supports almost all digital book formats that exist.|
|Best Value eReader – Nook Glowlight 3 (Editor’s Choice)|
|One of the best budget eBook readers around. Lightweight design, rubber coating, and physical page flip buttons set a new ergonomic benchmark in the budget segment.|
|Best Large Screen – Kobo Forma|
|Despite having the largest screen in our review, it is also one of the lightest eReaders we have ever tested. Packed with features and supports both portrait and landscape modes.|
|Top 6 eBook Readers|
Kindle Oasis is the flagship eBook reader in Amazon’s line up replacing the retired 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 softcover give the Kindle Oasis a premium look and feel.
In addition, Kindle Oasis is extremely comfortable thanks to its asymmetrical design. 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 claim appears to be true.
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 screen 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 is a great feature that reverses the colors and makes the font white and background black, but it may not appeal to everyone. 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.
Kindle Oasis is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of e-readers and the best Amazon Kindle e-reader ever made. It is ergonomically designed, well built, lasts long and has all the features you could ever expect from an eBook reader making it one of the top eReaders on the market.
In fact, its only competition in terms of features is the new 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 still makes more sense to be part of Amazon’s ecosystem than Kobo’s.
- Design & Build Quality 100% 100%
- Features 95% 95%
- Battery Life 90% 90%
- Value 70% 70%
|Great design and build quality|
|High quality display|
|Only supports Amazon format e-books|
The new 4th generation is the all-new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite that represents a massive step forward compared to the previous model. It features some enhancements found in the Amazon’s flagship e-reader Kindle Oasis which is always good to see.
Kindle Paperwhite is the best selling Kindle ever made by Amazon. The previous generation was released over two years ago which is the longest any Kindle has been out for without getting an update. Despite its huge success, many additional options came out to the market, making the face-lift long overdue.
On the outside, the eReader now features a flush-front design, which looks neat modern. Also, it has become slimmer and lighter compared to its predecessor.
The e-reader looks and feels sturdy and solid. The back has plenty of grip making allowing you to hold the eReader comfortably with one hand.
In short, the main improvements are the larger storage capacity, lighter and thinner body, waterproof design, and Amazon Audible integration.
The fourth-generation features a glare-free display found in the ex-flagship Kindle Voyage models. It uses a 6-inch screen with Carta E Ink HD touchscreen display with 300-pixel density per inch. The benefit of the 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 we’ve come across. To further push the energy efficiency or to adjust your comfort level you can 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 internal memory capacity has received a welcome boost from 4Gb to 8Gb or 32Gb. In practice, the latter can fit up to 150 Audible audiobooks which would be plenty for an average user.
Just like its bigger brother Kindle Oasis, Kindle Paperwhite now features a waterproof design and IPX8 certification. It allows the ebook reader to be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes, so you can now easily take it to the beach or enjoy it by the poolside.
Lastly, the most significant change, in our opinion is the Bluetooth connectivity. With its help, you can listen to audiobooks by connecting Bluetooth Speakers or Wireless Headphones to it.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite also comes with updated software including the new Bookerly font. The font 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 the new Paperwhite, and all Kindles for that matter is their total dependency on Kindle eBooks and Amazon’s ecosystem approaching a million titles.
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 – you can install a third-party application to achieve that, but should it be that hard?
Kindle Paperwhite is not the most sophisticated e-reader out there, but it is not an entry-level Kindle either. It found a sweet spot to become an amazing all-rounder and has everything an average eBook reader needs. Component quality is solid, screen resolution is fantastic and the battery life is amongst the best out there. 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, with $40 more than the basic Kindle and tons of extra features, the Kindle Paperwhite offers great value and is worth every penny.
- Design & Build Quality 90% 90%
- Features 75% 75%
- Battery Life 90% 90%
- Value 90% 90%
|High resolution, crisp display quality|
|Long lasting battery|
|No adaptive backlight|
|Light on features|
|The cheapest subscriptions comes with ads|
Clara HD is the latest release in a value eBook reader line up from Kobo.
The eReader is designed to be a direct competitor to a highly successful Amazon alternative, Kindle Paperwhite.
The front of the e-reader features a sharp six-inch screen that offers a 300 PPI resolution. The screen is housed in a super compact casing that is small enough to fit in the back pocket of men’s jeans.
At the back, Kobo Clara HD has a unique textured grip that feels nice in the hand and improves grip and comfort allowing you to hold it with your fingertips.
The eReader is very comfortable to hold over long periods of time due to its ergonomic and lightweight design. With only 166 grams on the scale, Kobo Clara HD is the lightest ebook reader in our review.
Despite being a budget eReader, it features an impressive three to four weeks of battery life given an hour a day use.
Similarly to the Nook Glowlight 3, Kobo Clara HD features a ComfortLight PRO – color-changing LCD backlight. The smart technology allows you to adjust the color warmth setting to suit your liking and environment. You can pick a color between a standard blue and softer yellow backlight. In addition, the backlight can dynamically change color based on the time of day and the amount of light available.
Borrowing eBooks from your local library has also been made easier with a new software update. If your library has Overdrive, you can see the contents of the ebook library on your device. If a book is available you will be able to borrow it virtually by downloading it. Conversely, Kobo Clara HD has a smaller library (over 5 million books) than Amazon but it appears that most books we’ve checked are available on both marketplaces.
Kobo Clara HD is the lightest eReader in our review. Despite being a value eBook reader, it comes with all the important features. The adaptive LCD backlight is smart and can automatically adjust the display color temperature based on the environment to ensure the least amount of strain is put on your eyes. If you are looking for a non-Amazon e-reader with comparable features to Kindle Paperwhite, Kobo Clara HD is one of the best eBook readers around that is worth having a good look at.
- Design & Build Quality 90% 90%
- Features 80% 80%
- Battery Life 90% 90%
- Value 80% 80%
|Great battery life|
|Multi color LCD backlit|
|Can borrow books from the online library|
You may not have heard a lot about Kobo due to the Amazon Kindle dominant position in the United States 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 or water-resistant body, just to name a few.
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.
Being a premium eBook reader, Kobo Aura One features a 7.8″ screen with the simply amazing display quality. With 1872 x 1404 resolution and 300 pixels per inch – it packs more pixels than any other e-reader we’ve tested. The text is crisp whether you use it in the shade or in the sun. Though the size of the screen may not appeal to everyone, I personally found it to be perfect for my reading preferences.
It is also quite enjoyable to use for late-night reading. The Aura One has an integrated backlight which automatically adapts to your environment. Although it works well, I feel the display is not exactly evenly lit 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 and browse 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 eReader 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
Whilst Kobo eBook readers are still making their name in the US, I think they deserve a lot more attention than they currently have. Part of the reason is the dependency on the eco-system which is 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.
Aura One is a great eBook reader with the outstanding build quality, crisp screen, and slick user interface. It is also one of the most feature-rich e-readers on the market which also delivers one of the best reading experiences out there.
The downside is the ecosystem that is still not as rich and as refined as Amazons. At the same time, if the Kobo’s store and the eco-system, in general, is not amongst your priorities the Aura One is the best e-reader the money can buy today.
- Design & Build Quality 90% 90%
- Features 90% 90%
- Battery Life 80% 80%
- Value 80% 80%
|Big, clear high definition screen|
|Supports more eBook formats than other eReaders|
|Blue light night mode|
|No page turning buttons|
|Perhaps too expensive for what it is|
|Ecosystem is not as strong as Amazon’s|
Nook GlowLight 3 is the latest e-reader from Barnes & Noble. The device is positioned as a mid-level model, which makes the waterproof Kindle Paperwhite its direct competitor.
Unlike its older sibling – Nook GlowLight Plus, the new version 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 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-turning 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.
Nook Glowlight 3 also comes with 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 & 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 mediocre 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, there are better options from Kobo to choose from.
Overall, the rubbery coating, lightweight design and thick bezel with physical buttons have created an exceptional level of comfort and ergonomics. It feels easy and comfortable to use, especially at night. It works equally well with books downloaded from the free resource or the Barnes & Noble public library. The comfort light feature is the icing on the cake, which makes the Nook Glowlight 3 as one of the best value eBook readers for home use we have ever reviewed.
In fact, if we had to put the ecosystem preference to the side, we found Nook Glowlight 3 to deliver a more pleasant experience than Kindle Paperwhite, which is quite a statement to make if you think of it.
- Design & Build Quality 90% 90%
- Features 90% 90%
- Battery Life 80% 80%
- Value 90% 90%
|Comfortable and ergonomic fit|
|Physical buttons to turn pages work exceptionally well|
|Backlight system is amongst the best on the market|
|Supports ePub format|
|PDF support is sub par|
|Slow performance at time|
Kobo Forma is the latest addition and the flagship of the Kobo’s e-reader range.
It features an asymmetrical design similar to Kindle Oasis where the page-turn buttons are located on the right side of the device.
The eReader was specifically designed for ravenous booklovers who tend to spend extended time reading eBooks.
Kobo is known for being innovative as they were the first ones to make eReaders waterproof, pioneered the backlight color temperature system and support almost all eBook formats you can think of.
Kobo Forma is a worthy successor that brings a couple of innovative and handy concepts to the eBook reader world.
First, it features a large brand new high-resolution display that supports 1440 × 1920 pixels and boasts 8″ of real estate. Despite the biggest screen in the lineup, Kobo Forma strikes the best screen size and weight ratio we have seen in eBook readers. The display uses both Carta HD and Mobius technology which is not common as manufacturers tend to pick one or the other. Utilizing both technologies allowed to deliver extremely crisp image quality, yet remain surprisingly lightweight at 197 grams and thin at 0.17 inches.
The eReader also comes with an innovative backlight system that can change the color temperature and the color itself. You can pick between blue, white or yellow to adapt to the environment and make it easier on your eyes, especially when reading in the dark. The option to change colors may sound unnecessary at first, yet when you start using it, you will find it hard to revert to the standard white Kindle backlight. Also, the quality of the backlight is significantly better than any Kindle made so far.
Another handy feature is the built-in gyroscope that allows the reader to flip between portrait and landscape modes automatically by changing the
Most eReaders allow users to control the text format by using presets that change line spacing, font sizes, and margins. This time, Kobo takes the text format customization to a whole new level as each parameter can be fine-tuned using individual sliders.
When the eBook reader was designed, careful consideration was given to PDF and EPUB format support, which Kobo managed to execute almost flawlessly. In addition, the CBR and CBZ file format support is great and allows manga, graphic novels, and comic books to be displayed cleanly and well-formatted.
The rapid page turn system, first seen on Kobo Aura One Limited Edition, has also been incorporated into Kobo Forma. The system allows fast page turns by dragging your finger from the right or left part of the screen into the center and holding it down. Page turns are noticeably quick, and the text on pages being flipped is always clean and readable.
Lastly, the oversized eReader features a unique Overdrive integration and Pocket support. It allows users to browse local book libraries and make them available on the eReader. Pocket, however, allows website and blog content to be pushed on to the eReader. That can be achieved using the Pocket browser extension that is available for all major browsers.
Kobo Forma is the new flagship in the Kobo’s lineup and rightly so. It has all the features you can expect a premium eReader to have. It is waterproof, extremely light, has an amazingly clear display and allows you to customize the settings to get the best reading experience like no other eReader on the market.
If you consume lots of graphic content, read for hours on end, especially in low or no light conditions Kobo Forma is the reader to buy. It does come with a hefty price tag, but for some of us, it will be worth every penny.
- Design & Build Quality 90% 90%
- Features 90% 90%
- Battery Life 90% 90%
- Value 60% 60%
|Large, bright and crisp display|
|Lightweight and comfortable to use|
|A lot of free content using OverDrive or Pocket|
|Blue and yellow backlight|
|Expected more than 8 GB of storage for a base model|
Best Rated Ebook Raders – Feature Comparison
|Kindle Oasis||Kindle Paperwhite||Kobo Clara HD||Kobo Aura One||Nook Glowlight 3|
|Resolution||300 ||300 ||300 ||300 ||300 |
|Storage||8 or 32Gb||8 or 32Gb||8Gb||8Gb||8Gb|
|Built-in Light||12 LEDs||4 LEDs||8 LEDs||8 LEDs||13 LEDs|
|Page Turns||Touchscreen + button||Touchscreen||Touchscreen||Touchscreen||Touchscreen + buttons|
|Battery Life||< 6 weeks||< 8 weeks||< 4 weeks||< 4 weeks||< 6 weeks|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi + Cellular||Wi-Fi + Cellular||Wi-Fi + Cellular||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi|
|Weight||6.8 oz||6.8 oz||5.8 oz||8.11 oz||6.5 oz|
|Dimensions||6.3 x 5.6 x 0.33″||6.6 x 4.6 x 0.3″||6.3 x 4.3 x 0.3″||7.7 × 5.5 × 0.27″||6.9 × 5 × 0.4″|
Ebook Reader or Tablet?
So if you are like me and enjoy ebook reading, chances are you would like to have your library organized and most important of all – have it with you on the go. If you do, there are a couple of options to consider for your digital library.
Although some may question the eReader practicality and debate about eReader vs tablet thinking that if you have the former, you do not need the latter.
We actually disagree, as we believe the two devices have been intentionally designed for two different purposes and should not be compared as equivalents. There are multiple reasons that make eReaders a better reading choice in 2020:
- Screen designed for easy reading and less eyestrain
- Glare resistant
- Water-resistant (some models)
- Lighter and cheaper than a tablet
- Longer battery life (weeks long)
- Book-like feel when reading
Overall, if it is reading you are after, no tablet can really beat an eBook reader and we can help you pick the top eReader of 2020.
If you would like to watch an expanded version of the differences between eBook Readers and Tablets, see the video below:
Alternatively, you can always opt for ebook reader apps such as a Kindle app or others compatible with your mobile device, iPad or a tablet. They provide the most cost-effective solution to e-reading but deliver the least impressive experience of all.
How to choose the best eBook Reader?
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.
It appears that the market has established the 6″ screen to be the most popular amongst the readers. But don’t worry, if your preferences are different, we have more options on our list ranging from 6″ to almost 8″ in diagonal that we would be happy to recommend.
If you are someone who likes reading outside, then sun glare and the water exposure may be necessary for you. If you love 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.
Most eReaders these days come with Wi-Fi, so I’d be 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 while on the move. In fact, I tend to upload the books on my eReader way in advance. For the ones that do need to download books while on the go – the cellular internet connection would be required.
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 ebook reader 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 books in that format without asking for anything in return. This is great, but if you are a Kindle user – ePub is not supported as Amazon only allows books from the 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.
We suggest that you start by browsing the online eBook 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.
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 ebook reader app available for your device.
Unlike tablets and mobile devices, eReaders can last for weeks. Typically modern eBook readers can last between four and eight weeks. If you are doing a lot of travel, this factor may be important to consider.
If you are looking for the best budget ebook reader you might be pleasantly surprised as the prices for eReaders have recently fallen. 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.
eBook Reader Formats – Which eBook Reader Supports What?
One of the main things you want to get right when picking the new eBook reader for yourself is to make sure it can read your file types. The truth is that there are close to 30 different file types, and most ebook readers would not support all of them. Below is the breakdown of Kindle and Kobo e-readers and the file formats they natively support.
- Kindle Format 8 (AZW3)
- unprotected MOBI
- Kindle (AZW)
Formats including HTML, GIF, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, BMP, and PNG files can be supported, but require conversion. Although EPUB format is not natively supported, you can convert it to a supported file type. At the same time, the process is cumbersome, and it breaks Digital Rights Management. Lastly, Apple iBooks are not supported.
As you see, Kobo e-readers support most ebook file types with
Frequently Asked Questions
What eBook File Standards Are Available?
What is ePub?
The format is supported widely by most ebook readers except Amazon Kindles.