An eBook reader is the ultimate must-have gadget for book lovers. eReaders are designed specifically for book reading and offer a better experience for bookworms than mobile devices with eReader apps installed on them.
Most dedicated eReaders have a black-and-white screen with e-ink technology, which renders crisp and readable type, even in bright sunlight. Unlike the backlit screens of most phones, tablets and computers, these displays mimic black ink on paper, and reflect light instead of emitting it. With the best eReaders, you can also enlarge type to huge sizes with little or no loss in sharpness, a great benefit for sight-impaired readers. Finally, eReaders weigh less than comparably sized tablets and allow weeks of reading, rather than hours, before you have to recharge them.
Aside from the reading advantages they offer, the best eBook readers make it quick and easy to get new content. Most, including the Kindle Paperwhite, Nook GlowLight and Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, come equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity or free 3G cellular service. That means they integrate with an eBook store where you can browse thousands of titles and download new books instantly. Use our side-by-side comparison and eReader reviews to determine the best eReader for you. Browse our articles on eBook readers to learn more about these devices.
While all digital readers serve the same primary purpose as reading platforms, not all are created equal. What may work best for one book lover may not be ideal for another. If you aren’t sure where to start in your search for the best eBook reader, we suggest you focus on readability, portability, convenience and features.
With the exception of the Kindle DX, a reading-friendly tablet that has an LCD screen, all the models we reviewed use e-ink technology. In general, e-ink improves readability by reducing glare and improving contrast, although as the Kindle DX showed, a well-designed LCD screen can do just as well. If readability is your most important criteria, also look for an eReader with a built-in light that you can use to read in dim and dark environments. The light tends to add $20 to $30 to the price, and it affects battery life slightly. Even so, you should still be able to read for weeks without recharging the battery.
Other less important readability factors include screen resolution and touch-screen capability. The higher an eReader's resolution, measured in pixels per inch, the better readability it will offer, though resolution alone will not determine the sharpest display. With a touch screen, you can turn pages and adjust settings without using physical buttons. Just interact with the screen as you would on a smartphone or tablet. Some people read better with a larger screen size, while some prefer the portability of a smaller device. We've included the screen sizes in our reviews so you can select the eReader to suit your preferences.
The best eReaders are compact and lightweight, making them convenient to take with you anywhere. They should be easy and comfortable to hold for an extended period of time. All eReaders offer Wi-Fi connectivity, and you can add the capability to download over a wireless 3G cellular network with some models. That 3G capability (on a network the manufacturer arranges) comes with no monthly bills, but the feature will add at least $50 to the price. We have found that this isn't worth the cost with the high availability of Wi-Fi.
Much of the appeal of an eReader comes from the convenience of instant access to new books. Virtually all of the eBook readers we’ve reviewed have an integrated eBook store offering thousands of titles. You'll find modest differences, however, most importantly in how many thousands of eBooks each offers and how much titles typically cost. Additionally, almost all models support loans of eBooks from public libraries. This allows you to borrow titles from the library’s website and download them to your device, either by USB cord or wirelessly.
With their monotone screen and rudimentary processors, eReaders are best suited to books. However, most also support and allow you to buy magazines and newspapers, and a few allow you to download audiobooks, too. You can listen to these through the headphone jack or built-in speaker. International and multilingual readers may also want to consider an eBook reader with multi-language support.
Most buyers don't worry about capacity when choosing eReaders, since all models can hold at least 1,000 titles.
An eBook reader's features are less important than the main benefits of such a device. However, the available features on an eReader could help you make the final choice among contenders. All the eReaders we reviewed come with a one-year warranty. Look for automatic syncing of your digital books across all of your devices. With this feature, you can pick up reading on your smartphone where you left off on your eReader. Further features like adjustable fonts, a built-in dictionary, and bookmarks and annotations can also enhance the convenience and usefulness of an eReader.
Whether you read voraciously or only pick up a book occasionally, a dedicated eBook reader can make reading your favorite novels and other content more convenient and enjoyable – anytime, anywhere. Research suggests that the ease of access an eReader offers may actually encourage you to read more than when your books come in paper form, so choosing the right eReader could even help you finish the books you've been meaning to read.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™