Thanks to their excellent readability and significant battery life, eBook readers are an ideal reading device for bookworms. They weigh about a tenth of some books, yet they can store thousands of full books in their tiny form factor. They give you the option to customize font styles and sizes, to look up words in their built-in dictionaries and to download a variety of written works, including magazines and newspapers.
Many modern phones and tablets come with eReader apps, but the backlit displays can cause eyestrain since they direct light into your eyes. Instead, eBook readers use e-ink displays, which look similar to paper. Many modern digital readers offer front lighting, a technology where LED lights surround the screen and reflect light downwards, making the lighting much easier for your eyes. Also, eBook readers have huge libraries of books for you to choose from, including free classics and library books. While you may not want to get rid of your hundreds of paper-bound books, an eBook reader allows you to take them with you everywhere.
For the dedicated bookworm, our eReader reviews focus on e-ink devices, since they are easier on the eyes. These are single-function devices, so you won’t have to worry about getting distracted by extra games and social apps. Our favorite eBook readers are the Kindle Voyage, NOOK GlowLight and Kobo Aura H2O. There are also several articles about eBook readers.
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 can store 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.