Best E-Readers

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

88 Models Considered
33 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
198 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best e-readers

Last Updated November 2019

Print may be dying but reading sure isn’t — so if you’re ready to catch up to the latest innovations in digital publishing, you’re going to need an e-reader.

E-readers are small tablets designed with “e-ink” screens; an e-ink screen is a unique type of screen that displays text in grayscale. E-ink screens are easier on the eyes, which is what makes them perfect for reading large amounts of text. E-ink displays also use a fraction of the power that traditional tablet and smartphone screens use, so they last a lot longer (sometimes up to a month, depending on how frequently you use yours). And because e-book files are so small, it’s easy to keep hundreds of books loaded on your e-reader at all times.

Whether you’re a seasoned reader with a taste for the classics or a younger reader first discovering the magic of words on a page, here’s everything you need to know to pick out the perfect e-reader for yourself.

E-reader screen resolutions are measured in pixels per inch, or PPI. An e-reader’s PPI tells you how many pixels the display uses per physical inch of the screen, so a product with a higher PPI (close to the 300 mark) is much clearer and easier to read than a lower one (around 167).

Key considerations

If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers will help point you toward the right e-reader for you.

  • Do you want an e-reader or a tablet? E-readers and tablets are different devices, but they have some overlapping functionality — namely, you can use any tablet as an e-reader if you have the right app. Many users prefer tablets over e-readers because they include reading functionality along with apps that let you do a ton of other things (like reading email, streaming video, crushing candy, or listening to music). But while tablets are more versatile and only slightly more expensive, their screens expose your eyes to a lot of light, which can get uncomfortable while reading and can cause long-term issues with eye strain. Users more focused on having a standalone reading device that they can read for hours on end without their eyes getting tired typically opt for a proper e-reader.
     
  • Which screen size is right for you? The screen size you pick is probably the most important decision you’ll make during the purchase process. E-reader screens range between six and 11 inches, so there’s a lot of variety, although most e-readers feature seven-inch screens. If you’re accustomed to paperback books, a six- or seven-inch screen may be perfect. If you’re more into hardcovers, you may want to look at the larger models. Just be forewarned: the bigger the screen, the higher the cost.

As relaxing as it sounds

The Kindle Oasis is one of the few luxury e-readers out there, and it sets the bar high. The Oasis is the e-reader that pulls out all the stops. It’s available in graphite or champagne gold; you can get it with up to 32GB of on-board storage; it’s waterproof, and it’s got Bluetooth. While it’s expensive when compared to other e-readers, it’s still an incredible value.

E-reader features

All e-readers have the same base functionality: they display e-books on e-ink displays. Beyond that, there are some key differentiators that help the best and brightest stand out. Here are the features we love.

  • Waterproof enclosures: Having a waterproof e-reader is more about peace of mind than it is convenience. If you like to read near the pool, or if you’re gearing up for a beach vacation, you may want to get a waterproof e-reader to help keep your digital library safe from damage.
     
  • Auto-adjusting light sensors: While this might not sound like much of a marquee feature, it’s a really big deal. With automatic light sensors, e-reader screens can adapt to the optimal brightness based on the current conditions at any time. That means they’re smart enough to get bright in the dark … and darker in the bright sunlight. Most e-readers include manual settings for brightness but having them automated is a lot more useful.
     
  • LTE connectivity: Most e-readers nowadays have built-in WiFi, but sometimes, WiFi isn’t enough. If you want to be able to download content onto your e-reader when you’re away from WiFi, you’ll need one with LTE functionality, so you can pair it with your mobile wireless provider and add it to your data plan. Keep in mind that LTE subscriptions cost money, so if you plan on buying an e-reader with LTE on board, you’re going to need to pay the additional monthly charges.

If you’re only going to be reading traditional e-books, you don’t need much onboard storage; even a 2GB e-reader will easily hold hundreds of titles. However, if you’re planning to read content with images, you’ll need more storage (4GB or 8GB).

E-reader prices

Basic e-readers typically cost between $75 to $125. In most tech gadget product categories, the cheapest models on the market are usually not the best. E-readers definitely buck this trend. It’s easy to find a durable e-reader with a solid feature set for less than $125. If you want an e-reader with plenty of battery life and conveniences like auto-adjusting light sensors, you don’t have to spend a lot.

Mid-range e-readers cost between $125 and $200. Models in this price range look just like their less-expensive counterparts but are often lighter and include more storage. You’ll even find waterproof models in this price range. If you read more than a few hours a week, or if you want an e-reader that’s got bells and whistles like Bluetooth functionality for listening to audiobooks, this is the price range to look at.

High-end e-readers cost between $200 and $300. E-readers in this price range go all out: they’ve got 300 PPI screens, they’re often waterproof, and they come with more storage than cheaper models. At this price, you may want to consider a tablet instead.

EXPERT TIP

Many e-readers are compatible with digital comic books, so you can enjoy your favorite superhero titles alongside your traditional books. If you’re a comic buff, check ahead of time to make sure the model you buy supports comic book files.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • If you have an existing e-book collection, check to see what format the files are in, and make sure the e-reader you buy works with that format. E-books come in a variety of formats, including *.PUB, *.MOBI, and even *.PDF files. If you’ve got lots of e-book files, check to see what format they’re in before you go shopping. If you buy an e-reader that doesn’t work with your e-book files, you may need to find conversion software to create compatible versions.
     
  • If you’re buying an Amazon Kindle, download the Kindle app to your smartphone so you can pick up where you left off in a book anytime and anywhere you want to. The Kindle smartphone app can sync with your Kindle e-reader to create a unified experience across both devices, which is perfect for when you’ve got a book you just can’t put down. Reading entire books on your phone isn’t great for your eyes, but if you just want to pick up where you left off for a little while, having a synchronized app is perfect.
     
  • Get a protective case for your e-reader. A scratched or cracked e-reader screen can make it really difficult to read, so it’s worth it to invest in a case that’ll keep yours from getting damaged. Take your time browsing e-reader cases; some include useful features like built-in reading lights.
EXPERT TIP

An entry-level e-reader usually requires you to adjust screen brightness manually, but many higher-end e-readers offer the convenience of auto adjustment.it.


Rafe  | Technologist, Product Review Professional

A happy compromise

Amazon’s Paperwhite Kindles set themselves apart by being the thinnest and lightest e-readers Amazon has — and they offer a good compromise between pricier and more spartan Kindle offerings. If you need a few key conveniences like Bluetooth, but you don’t need the whole kit and caboodle (like a larger screen or dedicated page-turning buttons), this is the Kindle to buy.

Other products we considered

We’re big fans of the 2018 Likebook Mars E-Reader because it’s so ambitious. Not only is it a 300-PPI e-reader with a gorgeous 7.8-inch screen, but it also happens to have the Android mobile operating system on board. That makes it practically a unicorn in the e-reader market: it can run apps from the Google Play store like a tablet, but because it uses an e-ink screen, it gets much better battery life than your average Android tablet.

Another good under-the-radar e-reader is the reMarkable Paper Tablet. The idea behind the reMarkable is that it’s an e-reader, but it’s also got a touch-sensitive screen and a stylus, so you can use it to write and take notes as well. (It easily converts anything you write into text that can be copied, pasted, or saved.) It’s got a giant 10.3-inch screen, too, so it’s perfect for digital illustration. The reMarkable Paper Tablet is one of the most expensive e-readers around, but the convenience is definitely worth the money.

While it’s possible to find a good deal on an older or refurbished e-reader, we recommend buying a new one. Modern e-readers have better screens, and a lot of older e-readers don’t have built-in WiFi. Without WiFi, you’d have to manually add your books to a memory card.

FAQ

Q. What are the differences between tablets and e-readers?
A.
The lines are definitely blurry, because you can use a traditional tablet to read e-books, and you can use some e-readers to browse the web. That said, there are three key factors that generally distinguish them from each other.

  • Tablets have full-color screens that project light while e-readers rely on e-ink, which is grayscale and much better for your eyes.
  • Tablets can usually only survive a few hours on a single battery charge, while e-readers can last for weeks.
  • Most importantly, e-readers don’t run apps. Functionality is much more based upon reading, whereas tablets are useful for plenty of other activities.


Q. If I buy an Amazon Kindle, can I get digital books from other sources, like my local library?
A.
It depends on the library, but it’s definitely possible. Most modern libraries have digital lending programs where you can check out e-books at no cost. Check with your local library to understand what digital programs they offer. Some even have video streaming services like Kanopy for card-holders.


Q. I sometimes have a hard time reading small text. Can I still use an e-reader?
A.
Absolutely. All e-readers have built-in controls that let you adjust the size of the text, so you never have to worry about squinting. When you first open your e-reader, spend some time picking out the perfect font size and setting it as your default, so you never have to think about it again.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
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    Amos
    Director of Photography
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    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
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    Jaime
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
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    Melissa
    Senior Editor
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    Steph
    Web Producer

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