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Best e-reader 2021: Kindle, Kobo, and more


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.


The best of the best


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:


A premium e-reader at a not-so-premium price


2021-10-06-11-35-57.jpg
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 basic e-reader at a decent price.


Woman holding baby and reading from a tablet
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 Amazon Kindle with a kid-friendly twist


2021-10-06-11-41-57.jpg
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 all e-readers are amazon e-readers


2021-10-06-11-45-25.jpg
Amazon

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


An e-reader you can draw on


2021-10-06-11-47-48.jpg
Amazon

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

Why do you need an e-reader?

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!

How these products have been chosen?

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

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.

Are some books badly suited to e-readers?

I find that books with a lot of diagrams or color images are better suited to smartphone or tablet viewing.



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