When using an eBook reader, you may hear people ask, "Why don't you just use a phone or tablet?" or "Why don't you just use a book?" Unfortunately, many people do not understand the many benefits of a dedicated eReader, like the ability to travel with a library of thousands of books in a device that weighs no more than a pound, or the screen resolution that is much more comfortable on the eyes than the bright OLED and LCD screens on tablets and phones.
The eBook reader is the next evolution in literary technology, offering the most comfortable reading platform ever invented. While some will complain that you cannot duplicate the smell of a new book, few would want to duplicate the pain of packing and moving hundreds of books. Also, eReaders allow you to change the font type and size, access a digital dictionary and leave annotations without marking up your books. The most recent technology is front lighting, a way to illuminate the screen without shining a light in your eyes. The best eBook readers give you instant access to a digital library, so you can buy and download books whenever you want. Thanks to the technology of e-ink, you can read virtually any book with the comfort of a book and none of the weight.
We limited our reviews to eReaders that primarily utilize e-ink and have minimal apps and games to distract you from your books. The best eReaders are the Kindle Paperwhite 3G, the Nook GlowLight and the Kindle Paperwhite, each of which utilizes front lighting and a wide range of features. If you'd like to compare the best Kindles, we have a review site that looks at each Kindle device. We also have several articles about the advantages of 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 less important readability factors include screen resolution and touchscreen capability. The higher an eReader's resolution, measured in pixels or dots per inch (ppi or dpi, respectively), 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. 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 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. 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.