Best eBook Readers 2018

For years, Kindle has remained the top choice for eBook reader enthusiasts worldwide — and for good reason. The devices that Amazon delivers are some of the most polished eReaders money can buy. However, Kindle isn’t the only rooster in this fight – there are other competitors out there that offer their own unique take on the eReading experience.

From robust file type compatibility, to large-screens, to waterproofing and beyond, the Kindle’s competitors are familiar, yet different enough to warrant a second look. But are they really worth it? In this review, we take a look at all of them, pit them against each other, and see if they can take on the mighty Kindles. Are you ready? Check them all out below!

 

CompanyRankingRatingPriceResolutionFront-lit?Waterproof?Description

Kindle Paperwhite

1st9.8 out of 10$119.99 One Time1448x1072 (300ppi)YesNo

Kindle Paperwhite Review

With a built-in light and an improved screen resolution, the Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best affordable eReaders aroundFull Kindle Paperwhite Review »

Kindle Oasis

2nd9 out of 10$289.99 One Time1448x1072 (300ppi)YesNo

Kindle Oasis Review

The Kindle Oasis is one of the most well-crafted eBook readers in the market, but its expensive price might no be for everyone.Full Kindle Oasis Review »

Nook GlowLight Plus

3rd8.7 out of 10$129.99 One Time1448x1072 (300ppi)YesYes

Nook GlowLight Plus Review

The Nook GlowLight Plus, with its sharp screen and premium look, comes close to matching the Kindle Paperwhite. Some issues hold it back though.Full Nook GlowLight Plus Review »

Kindle Voyage

4th8.5 out of 10$199.99 One Time1448x1072 (300ppi)YesNo

Kindle Voyage Review

The Kindle Voyage brings improved resolution and brightness to the table, along with great durability.Full Kindle Voyage Review »

Kobo Aura H2O

5th8.3 out of 10$179.99 One Time1430x1080 (265ppi)YesYes

Kobo Aura H2O Review

The first of its kind, the Kobo Aura H2O offers a gorgeous 6.8-inch display, SD storage, and waterproofing - but It's a bit sluggish at times.Full Kobo Aura H2O Review »

Kindle

6th8 out of 10$79.99 One Time800x600 (167ppi)NoNo

Kindle Review

The newly updated Kindle sports the same low price as its predecessors, but now with an improved hardware and build - though the sceen isn't the best.Full Kindle Review »

Kobo Aura One

7th8 out of 10$229.99 One Time1872x1404 (300ppi)YesYes

Kobo Aura One Review

Kobo Aura One sports a durable, waterproof build and large 7.8 inch screen with LED lighting. It comes with a few caveats though.Full Kobo Aura One Review »

Kobo Touch 2.0

8th7.5 out of 10$89.99 One Time800x600 (167ppi)NoNo

Kobo Touch 2.0 Review

In many ways, the Kobo Touch 2.0 doesn't feel like a true upgrade to the previous Touch. Still, it is an okay enough alternative to the basic Kindle.Full Kobo Touch 2.0 Review »

Kobo Aura Edition 2

9th7 out of 10$119.99 One Time1024x768 (212ppi)YesNo

Kobo Aura Edition 2 Review

While offering good ergonomics, a front-lit display, and the flexible Kobo ecosystem, the Kobo Aura Edition 2 still feels like a step back.Full Kobo Aura Edition 2 Review »
Also, here are some important things we looked at for our rankings.

Though most eBook readers share a lot of similarities with each other, both in terms of aesthetics and technology, the truth is that they are not created equal. Though most differences are minimal, some can impact a reader’s overall reading experience. So, to help you make a more informed decision, we took an in-depth look at the most important aspects of eReaders. Here they are:

Ecosystem or Infrastructure

The best eBook reader is only as good as the ecosystem or infrastructure that fuels it. They all offer a great selection of affordable eBooks, magazines, newspapers, manga, graphic novels, audio books, and more. That said, it makes sense to research the devices before making a purchase.  Here are some features that you may want to consider:

  • Capacity - How many books do you want to store in your eReader?  Do you want to keep them forever or once read, hit the delete button?
  • Battery life - Life will be a drag if your device runs out of juice in the  middle of a page turner!
  • Multiple device capability - Is switching from eBook reader to desktop computer to smartphone important to you?
  • Sharing - Do you want to share eBooks with family members?
  • Wi-Fi capability - Do you want to download books anywhere in the world using a 3G connection instead of Wi-Fi?
  • Waterproofing - Face it, we all spill and drop stuff. Whether we are accident prone or just unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (like sitting next to an excitable 5-year old on a plane with a cup of orange juice!), waterproofing might be a feature worth considering!
  • Content - Are you interested in downloading books that are in the public domain? Do you want to “borrow” an eBook from your local library using the Overdrive app?
  • Performance - Do you want to customize font styles and sizes? How do you navigate between chapters?
  • Audible playback - Do you want to listen as you read?
  • Add-free version - Do you want to pay more to be ad-free?

File Type Compatibility

On top of deciding which ecosystem best suits your needs, it is also important to consider what eBook file types you are going to be using. Not every eReader out there supports all file types.

Amazon’s Kindle, for example, does not support ePub, which is a free and open source format and one of the most popular eBook file types around. While this is not an issue for many, it is for some.  The upside of this downside is that it’s possible to convert an ePub file into a format that Kindle can read. One popular program is calibre, a free, open source downloadable program to manage your eBook reader.

Nook and Kobo have easily accessible lists of file formats for their eBook readers. Here’s a partial list of popular file types for most eBook readers on the market today:  AZW, MOBI, PRC, AZW1, TPZ, TXT,  EPUB, LRF, LRX, RTF, PDF, TXT, etc. Don’t get too worried or confused with this mumbo-jumbo - most of the popular eBook readers can support multiple formats.  And as technology advances, some formats will be discontinued or morphed into a new format.

Screen Size, Resolution and LED Lighting

Yes, size and clarity matters in eBook readers. The industry has settled on a universal size which hovers between 6-7” and 300 pixels per inch which allows for sharper, clearer text.

Glare-free screens are popular so you can enjoy reading in the sun, sitting at the beach or pool. Blue light controls are also a top priority -  you can read in the dark whether in bed or on a transatlantic flight so you don’t disturb your bedmate or seatmate! And with E Ink screens to display text, it feels like you are reading a paper book!

During the early days of eReaders, LED-lit screens were a luxury – today, it has become the norm. The best eBook readers allow you to easily and manually adjust the brightness of the LED lights, as well as the temperature of the screen. The ability to filter out blue light should help with eye strain when reading at night.

Performance

While eReaders aren’t exactly on par with modern tablets in terms of pure performance, it is still important to measure how an eReader succeeds (or fails) in providing a smooth reading experience. After all, anyone would get pretty irritated if their device slows down to a crawl in the middle of reading, or if it takes several tries just to get your touch command recognized.

Touchscreens are an integral part of all the best eBook readers on the market today.  Some readers like the feel and convenience of the old-school page turn buttons. The software on a touchscreen may misinterpret your swipe and the highlighting function or dictionary feature will pop up. And some devices give you the option of reading single handedly.  Yes, this is good for those of you who switch sides as you read in bed - the screen has both page forward and page backwards buttons on both sides of the screen!

Hardware

As with any other device, durability is also one of the important factors one should consider when choosing an eReader.  To me, plastic or metal and thickness is a personal choice. No one’s hands are the same size and there’s no one profile that fits an eBook buyer.  A sleek, aluminum eReader in the hands of an eight-year old is just asking for trouble.

As the size of eBook readers and smartphones converge, it’s getting harder to tell them apart!  Just as with an iPhone or Android device, buying a case and screen protector for a metal eBook reader will safeguard it against spills and cracks.  A waterproof eReader is a feature to consider, especially if you love reading in the bath or at the beach!

Headphone jacks and/or speakers are a consideration for those sight-impaired or physically disabled readers. Or maybe your book club wants to download an audio eBook on LibriVox and listen together while sipping a cocktail!

Pricing

Prices range from less than a hundred dollars to more than three hundred for an eBook reader. However, more expensive doesn’t always mean it is the best. Take your time and do research on features of the best-selling devices on the market today.

Some eReaders that go for much cheaper tend to offer more in the way of value. After all, why pay more if you can pay less to get the same (or better) performance?

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