Over the last few years, eBook readers have gotten closer to surpassing books in fidelity and availability. In fact, the best eReaders offer adjustable fonts, multiple contrast settings and the ability to store thousands of eBooks, magazines and newspapers on a half-pound device.
Recent eBook readers use front-lit touchscreens. This means that the screen is lit by LED lights reflecting down on the screen. eReaders are superior to phones and tablets for reading because they don't use back lighting to display images. Phones, tablets, computer monitors and televisions light the pixels from behind, shining the light directly at you, which can lead to eye fatigue. Like paper books, you can read your e-ink reader for hours without eyestrain. Because eBooks are digital, free books are truly free. There are thousands of classics available on multiple digital bookstores that you can download whenever you'd like. Lastly, eBook readers usually have far superior batteries to other electronic devices. There are eReaders that allow you to read for up to two months before recharging.
Our eReader reviews focus on dedicated e-ink devices. Most of these readers lack apps and games, so you don't have to worry about getting distracted. The best eBook readers have similar features and capabilities, but each has something that sets it apart. Our favorite eReaders are the Kindle Voyage, Nook GlowLight and Kobo Aura H2O. We have written several articles about eBook readers, and if you'd like to see more Kindles, we compare the Kindle eReaders to the Fire tablets.
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.
Most eReaders we reviewed use e-ink technology. In general, e-ink improves readability by reducing glare and improving contrast. 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.
Other readability factors include screen resolution and touchscreen capability. The higher an eReader's resolution, measured in pixels or dots per inch, the better readability it will offer. Screens that use pixels look similar to the font you'd see on any monitor, phone or tablet, while screens that measure resolution in dots look more like printed pages. With a touchscreen, you can turn pages and adjust settings without using physical buttons. Just interact with the screen as you would on a smartphone or tablet.
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. However, you'll find modest differences, 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 monochromatic screens 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 most models can hold at least 1,000 titles.
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 some models offer free domestic 3G data. Devices with 3G data are noticeably more expensive than Wi-Fi-only eBook readers, but if you travel a lot and don't always have access to reliable wireless internet, the data is a fast way to buy and download new eBooks.
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. Also 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.
If you love to read but hate lugging books around with you, 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.