The Internet may have reduced our appreciation for printed newspapers and magazines, but many of us still find it relaxing to read books. The latest and best e-readers let you use a handheld digital device to store thousands of e-books at once, and read them at your leisure – indoors or outdoors – whether you’re commuting to work, lying in bed, lounging at a beach, or traveling on an airplane. The possibilities are truly limitless.
The best e-readers use e-ink (also known as Paperwhite) displays, that — unlike displays on smartphones, tablets or laptops — are designed to look like real pages of real books. They also eliminate glare and are readable in any lighting. So whether you’re in a dark room or in direct sunlight, the screen of an e-reader will display crystal-clear text. Some e-readers are also waterproof, so you can catch up on your reading in a bathtub, or even floating around in a swimming pool.
The best e-readers can do it all
The latest e-readers do more than just let you read digital books — including bestsellers from your favorite authors. They also play audiobooks and podcasts (when you pair the reader with wireless Bluetooth headphones or earbuds). You can also subscribe to digital editions of newspapers and magazines or read PDF files of printed documents for school or work.
Another benefit of an e-reader (as opposed to reading a printed book) is that you choose the font and font size in the display text, making it even easier to see and read. And when you take a break, the e-reader will automatically generate a digital bookmark, so you can pick up exactly where you left off.
Best of all, e-readers are thin and lightweight, as well as easy on your eyes. You can hold one for extended periods without developing hand, wrist or eye fatigue. Their battery also lasts for weeks, not mere hours. Whether your budget is around $100 or $400, there’s an e-reader that will meet your needs and let you truly enjoy whatever you’re reading.
At the moment, our favorite e-reader is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. It’s affordable (especially when it goes on sale), can hold literally thousands of e-books or hundreds of audiobooks, and it’s waterproof. It’s also compatible with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, Audible and Kindle Vella services. These services give you lower cost-access to e-books and audiobooks, plus other content you’ll likely enjoy reading or listening to. A slightly enhanced version of this e-reader is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, which we also highly recommend. Let’s take a closer look.
Best all around e-reader: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Display Size: 6.8 inches | Display Resolution: 300 pixels per inch | Screen Lighting: 17 LEDs offer adjustable warm light | Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.32 inches | Weight: 7.23 ounces | Storage Capacity: 8GB or 16GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Kindle eBook Store, Kindle Unlimited, Audible | Battery Life: Up to 10 weeks | Special Features: Waterproof (IPX8 rated), Wi-Fi connectivity, glare-free display
The Kindle Paperwhite falls into the mid-priced category in Amazon’s lineup of dedicated e-readers (that can also play audiobooks and podcasts). It offers a 6.8 inch Paperwhite (e-ink) display that can clearly be viewed in any lighting situation, including direct sunlight or a pitch black room. Battery life is up to 10 weeks and with either 8GB or 16GB of storage, the device can hold thousands of e-books or hundreds of audiobooks.
What people love about the Kindle Paperwhite is its compact, easy to hold design. It’s also waterproof, so you can take it into the tub or enjoy a book while floating in a pool. This version of the e-reader offers 20% faster and smoother page turning and 10% brighter display than previous models. A wide range of protective cover colors and styles are sold separately.
The main differences between the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition (besides the price) are that this model lacks wireless charging, a self-adjusting light and automatic rotating page orientation. The device itself comes in three colors. At the time of purchase, you could also choose between 8GB or 16GB of internal storage (which can not be upgraded later). The last option is deciding between an ad-supported lockscreen or an ad-free lockscreen. The ad-support version is a bit cheaper, but displays passive ads (e-book suggestions) on the screen as a screensaver anytime you’re not reading or listening to content.
- Enjoy an easy-to-read, glare free display that’s just as readable in direct sunlight as it is in a dark room.
- It’s waterproof and lightweight, making it easy to hold during extended reading sessions.
- The battery life lasts up to 10 weeks (not mere days or hours) and can be recharged via its USB Type-C port.
- The device easily connects to Wi-Fi for acquiring content, but can then be used for reading (or listening) without Internet access, such as on an airplane or aboard a cruise ship.
- The less expensive version displays ads when the screensaver is on.
- A protective cover for the display is sold separately.
- This e-reader comes with access to Kindle Unlimited for 3 months, then it costs $11.99 per month for unlimited access to more than four million e-books and audiobooks.
- E-books borrowed from a public library need to be downloaded to a computer and then transferred via the supplied USB cable to this e-reader.
Best budget e-reader: Amazon Kindle (2022 version)
Display Size: 6 inches | Display Resolution: 300 pixels per inch | Screen Lighting: 4 LEDs | Dimensions: 6.2 x 4.3 x 0.32 inches | Weight: 5.56 ounces | Storage Capacity: 16GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Kindle eBook Store, Kindle Unlimited, Audible | Battery Life: Up to 6 weeks | Special Features: Glare-free display shows 16 levels of grayscale
Especially when it goes on sale, the Amazon Kindle (2022 version) is the least expensive Kindle e-reader in Amazon’s lineup. It offers a six-inch display, but it’s not as sharp as a Paperwhite display, especially in direct sunlight. And in dark areas, it only offers four non-adjustable LEDs. But the 16GB of internal storage is enough to store thousands of e-books or hundreds of audiobooks. This Kindle can also play audiobooks or podcasts. Without a built in speaker, you’ll need to pair the device with wireless headphones or earbuds to listen to any audio content.
Unlike the Kindle Paperwhite e-readers, this model is not waterproof, but it does offer a compact and easy-to-hold design. It comes with a three-month trial subscription to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Service, which provides unlimited access to more than 4 million e-books and audiobooks. The device also works seamlessly with an Audible subscription for listening to audiobooks and podcasts.
If you like to buy your content one title at a time, this can be done directly from the Kindle — when it’s connected to Wi-Fi — by accessing the Kindle store. Once content is loaded into the device, however, no ongoing Internet connection is needed. You can easily read on an airplane, cruise ship, or anywhere Wi-Fi service is not offered.
- This Kindle holds thousands of e-books or hundreds of audiobooks.
- The rechargeable battery lasts up to six weeks.
- You get easy connectivity to Wi-Fi for acquiring content, but you can then read or listen to content without Internet access.
- This is the most affordable Kindle e-reader, especially when it goes on sale.
- It’s not waterproof, so keep it out of the bathtub or pool.
- The less expensive version displays ads when the lock-screen/screensaver is shown.
- A protective cover for the display is sold separately.
- This e-reader comes with access to the Kindle Unlimited service for 3 months, then it costs $11.99 per month for unlimited access to more than four million e-books and audiobooks.
Best value Kobo e-reader: Kobo Clara 2E
Display Size: 6 inches | Display Resolution: 300 pixels per inch | Screen Lighting: Adjustable front light | Dimensions: 6.26 x 4.41 x 0.34 inches | Weight: 6.03 ounces | Storage Capacity: 16GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Kobo eBook and Audiobook Store | Battery Life: Up to 8 weeks | Special Features: Waterproof, 1x USB Type-C port
Amazon is the industry leader in e-readers and related content. But if you want to go with a non-Amazon product, the Kobo Clara 2E from Rakuten is a viable option. It looks and operates much like an Amazon Kindle, but instead of getting content from Amazon, Kobo has its own online-based e-book and audiobook store. One benefit to the Kobo e-readers: They make it easier to borrow e-books and audiobooks from a public library and then transfer them to the e-reader without needing a computer.
The Clara 2E has enough internal storage to hold about 12,000 e-books or 75 Kobo audiobooks. Since the device lacks a speaker, you’ll need to pair it with wireless (Bluetooth) headphones or earbuds to listen to any type of audio. And if you’re interested in protecting the environment, you’ll be happy to know that this e-reader is constructed from 85% recycled plastic.
Rakuten has done a really nice job creating a lineup of e-readers and an e-bookstore that’s easy to use, well designed and affordable. This device’s display is not quite as sharp as a Paperwhite, but it’s very close. A variety of protective covers, available in different colors and styles, are sold separately. If you’re an avid reader, Kobo offers its optional KoboPlus subscription service for $7.99 per month. It provides unlimited access to more than 1.5 million e-books. For $9.99 per month, the service also offers access to more than 150,000 audiobooks (in addition to the e-books) – with both content libraries constantly being expanded with new titles.
- The e-ink display helps to prevent eye fatigue during long reading sessions.
- The 16GB of storage holds up to 12,000 e-books.
- Kobo makes borrowing e-books from a public library much easier compared to using an Amazon Kindle.
- This e-reader does not work in landscape mode (held sideways).
- Protective screen covers, available in a variety of colors, are sold separately.
Best premium e-reader: Kobo Elipsa 2E
Display Size: 10.3 inches | Display Resolution: 227 pixels per inch | Screen Lighting: Adjustable front light | Dimensions: 9.94 x 7.56 x 0.31 inches | Weight: 13.76 ounces | Storage Capacity: 32GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Kobo e-book and Audiobook Store | Battery Life: Up to 2 weeks | Special Features: E-ink display is glare free, comes with the Kobo Stylus 2 stylus used for digital note taking or annotating e-books or PDF files, supports 15 e-book and file formats
If you like reading e-books on a 10.3 inch display, listening to audiobooks (using wireless headphones or earbuds) and using the same device as a digital notepad or annotator, the Kobo Elipsa 2E is an alternative to Amazon’s Scribe. Both devices are offered for about the same price and offer similar functionality.
The Elipsa 2E can display 12 different fonts, more than 50 font styles and a wide range of font sizes, so you can customize how an e-book looks during each reading experience. This device comes with the Kobo Stylus 2 for handwriting or drawing directly on the e-ink display. The 32GB of storage will hold thousands of pages of your own notes (organized into virtual notebooks), up to 24,000 e-books, hundreds of audiobooks or any combination of content.
When using this device for digital note taking, you can create any number of separate notebooks and then fill them with any number of pages. The only limit is the storage space within the e-reader, but it comes with plenty. Built into the note-taking app are dozens of pre-formatted page templates, including lined sheets, grid sheets, checklists and planner pages. And as you’re writing and drawing, if you make a mistake and need to erase something, simply turn the stylus around and use the virtual eraser. It works just like an actual pencil. Like all e-ink displays, the one built into the Elipsa 2 is designed to resemble paper–whether it’s a sheet from a notepad or the printed page of an e-books.
- The virtual note taking app integrated into this device comes with dozens of notebook and paper templates.
- Virtual notebooks can be stored locally, backed up to Dropbox or Google Drive, or shared with others.
- Keep your handwritten notes as is, or automatically have them converted into typed text.
- Makes borrowing e-books from a public library much easier than when using an Amazon Kindle.
- Offers all of the e-books reading features as the Kobo Clara 2E, including access to the Kobo Bookstore.
- A protective cover for the display is sold separately.
- Battery life is shorter than other e-readers, but is still up to two weeks.
Best e-reader with a color display: Boox Tab Mini C
Display Size: 7.8 inches | Display Resolution: 1,404 x 1,872 pixels, 300 ppi (B&W), 702 x 936, 150 ppi (color) | Screen Lighting: Front light | Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.4 x 0.33 inches | Weight: 9.3 ounces | Storage Capacity: 64GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Any e-bookstore with an app | Battery Life: Up to 7 days | Special Features: Runs Android 11, offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, supports 24 file formats, internal microphone and speaker
The Boox Tab Mini C is being promoted as a full-featured, Android-based tablet. What sets it apart is that it utilizes a full-color e-ink display. This dramatically increases its battery life and makes the display easier to read in direct sunlight or any lighting situation (including a dark room). The drawback is the tablet is sluggish. Yes, it can run all Android-based apps, but in reality, this is more of a souped up e-reader than a tablet when it comes to functionality. For example, it can display or stream video, but the viewing experience is so sluggish and blurry, the experience is very disappointing.
What the Boox Tab Mini C does really well, however, is serve as a digital notebook that allows you to use a stylus to write or draw on the screen, create individual notebooks, and then organize and store individual notes within those notebooks. You can use the preinstalled Notes app, or acquire a more robust note taking app from the Google Play Store. There are literally hundreds to choose from.
The Tab Mini C is also an excellent e-reader that can display color. From the Google Play Store, you’re able to download and install any e-books reading app, such as Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Libby by OverDrive or Kobo Books, and then acquire and read content using that app. For example, using Libby by OverDrive, it’s very easy to borrow e-books from a public library. Then as you’re reading, you can add handwritten notes to the pages for later reference.
You can also acquire an app for listening to music, audiobooks and/or podcasts. For this, options include (but are not limited to) Audible, Amazon Music, iHeart, SXM or Spotify. Then, either use the tablet’s internal speaker or connect wireless (Bluetooth) headphones or earbuds to listen to that audio content, which can be localled stored or streamed through the device. For these types of applications, the Tab Mini C works wonderfully and the color e-ink display makes the experience even more enjoyable.
- This tablet is lightweight and easy to hold.
- The full-color display is useful for viewing e-books or PDF files and being able to annotate them using different colored virtual inks.
- It’s a really good digital note taking tool and able to run Android-based apps.
- Works with any Android-based e-book reader or audio streaming app.
- E-books containing color text or content can be viewed in color, unlike when using other e-readers that can only display black or shades of gray.
- Very sluggish when working with many business, productivity, communications or game apps, for example.
- Between the speed and lack of sharpness in the colors, the tablet can’t be used for watching video content and does just a so-so job displaying digital photos or graphics (including social media feeds).
Best waterproof e-reader: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
Display Size: 6.8 inches | Display Resolution: 300 pixels per inch | Screen Lighting: 17 LEDs offer auto adjusting or manually adjustable warm light | Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.32 inches | Weight: 7.3 ounces | Storage Capacity: 32GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Kindle eBook Store, Kindle Unlimited, Audible | Battery Life: Up to 10 weeks | Special Features: Wireless charging, comes in three colors (black, agave green and denim blue), auto-adjusting screen brightness and contrast
As its name suggests, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature edition is a slightly more feature-packed edition of the popular Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. For example, this version supports wireless charging using any Qi-compatible charger, or it can be charged via a wired USB Type-C connection.
The display’s brightness and contrast is also auto-adjusting, based on the ambient light where you’re reading. But you can manually adjust the brightness and color temperature of the display to accommodate your preferences. And this version of the Kindle is also waterproof. Plus, it can serve as an audio player for audiobooks or podcasts. Since they are no internal speakers, you’ll need to pair the device with your choice of wireless headphones or earbuds (sold separately).
This e-reader also comes with a three-month trial subscription to Kindle Unlimited that offers access to more than 4 million e-books, audiobooks and related content. After that, the monthly fee is $11.99. However, you can also purchase e-Books or audiobooks individually from the Kindle eBook Store directly from the device when it’s connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. To then read e-books or listen to downloaded and stored content, no Internet connection is required.
- The device is about the same size as a printed paperback book and the display makes on-screen text look like it’s a printed page.
- Choose the font and font size of text as you’re reading e-book content.
- The e-reader can also be used to read PDF files.
- E-books borrowed from a public library need to be downloaded to a computer and then transferred to your Kindle using the supplied USB cable, while content purchased from the Kindle eBook Store can be acquired directly from the e-reader via a Wi-Fi connection.
- The less expensive version displays ads when the lock-screen/screensaver is shown.
- A protective cover for the display is sold separately.
Best e-reader for reading and note-taking: Amazon Kindle Scribe
Display Size: 10.2 inches | Display Resolution: 300 ppi | Screen Lighting: Front light uses 35 LEDs | Dimensions: 9.0 x 7.7 x0.22 inches | Weight: 15.03 ounces (Scribe), 0.49 ounces (Basic stylus) | Storage Capacity: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Kindle eBook Store, Kindle Unlimited, Audible | Battery Life: Up to 12 weeks | Special Features: Handwrite or draw on the display using a stylus, choose the amount of storage you need at the time of purchase
The Amazon Kindle Scribe is a full-featured e-book reader and audiobook/podcast player, but it also serves a key feature that other Kindle e-readers do not. It’s able to work as a digital notepad. This means you can handwrite or draw directly on the display using a stylus. Using the integrated note taking app, you’re able to create custom digital notebooks and then fill them up with individual pages containing your notes or sketches. These notes are stored within the Scribe, but can easily be shared when the e-Reader is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
As you’re reading, you can also annotate the content of e-books with handwritten notes, or annotate PDF files transferred to the Scribe using the Internet-based Send-to-Kindle feature. A “basic” stylus comes with the Scribe, but a “Premium Pen” can be purchased separately ($60). The benefit of the Premium Pen is that the top serves as a digital eraser (just like on a pencil). When not being used, either stylus attaches to the side of the Scribe using magnets. A three-month trial subscription to the Kindle Unlimited service is included, as is a USB Type-C charging cable.
The Scribe uses a manually adjustable e-ink display that can be viewed in any lighting situation, including direct sunlight. In a dark room, the 35 integrated LEDs brighten up the screen so you’re easily able to see everything displayed. With the Scribe, you get all of the features of a Kindle e-reader combined with useful note taking tools that allow the device to be used as a versatile digital notepad.
- With a Microsoft 365 subscription, documents can be transferred to the Scribe directly from Microsoft Word running on an Internet connected computer or mobile device.
- Handwritten notes can automatically be transferred into text and then stored or shared digitally.
- Using its WI-Fi connection, any type of content can be transferred or downloaded to the Scribe, so no computer is needed.
- At the time of purchase, choose between 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, based on your needs.
- Save 20% on the purchase of the Scribe when you buy it from Amazon and trade in any older Kindle e-reader.
- The Scribe is not waterproof.
- You don’t get a wireless charging option.
- A variety of protective display covers, in different colors and styles, are sold separately.
Best e-reader for kids: Kindle Paperwhite Kids Edition
Display Size: 6.8 inches | Display Resolution: 300 pixels per inch | Screen Lighting: Front light uses 17 LEDs | Dimensions: 6.9 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 11.32 ounces | Storage Capacity: 16GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Amazon Kids+, Kindle eBook Store, Kindle Unlimited, Audible | Battery Life: Up to 10 weeks | Special Features: Waterproof (IPX8 rated), comes with a two-year “worry free” guarantee, includes a one year subscription to Amazon Kids+ and a cover.
This e-reader is ideal for kids between 6 and 12. One huge benefit of purchasing a Kindle e-reader for your child is that it offers a distraction-free reading and audiobook/podcast listening tool. There are no games to play, no social media accounts to manage and no opportunities to exchange text messages with friends. The Kindle Paperwhite Kids Edition offers all of the features and functions of the regular version of the Kindle Paperwhite, but it comes with a few added perks.
For example, you get a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, a service that offers unlimited access to age appropriate e-books, audiobooks and related content. (After one year, the subscription can be continued for $4.99 per month.) This kid-friendly version of the e-reader also comes with a protective case and a two year “worry-free guarantee.” If the device gets damaged, Amazon will repair or replace it for free.
While the Amazon Kids+ service offers a nice selection of curated, age-appropriate content, this Kindle also has parental controls. An adult can set limits regarding what a child can read or listen to, what times of day they can use the device and how much screen time per day they can have. For example, you can set the device to turn itself off and lock down every night at your child’s designated bedtime. This is all easily managed using the Parent Dashboard via a smartphone.
- The Parent Dashboard is accessible anytime from a smartphone.
- This version of the Kindle supports OpenDyslexic, a specialized font that’s easier for some people with dyslexia to read.
- Pairs wirelessly with any Bluetooth headphones or earbuds for listening to audiobooks, podcasts or music.
- The included case comes in a choice of colors.
- The “Worry-free” guarantee does not cover loss of the e-reader, only damage.
- The Amazon Kids+ subscription lasts just one year, but can be renewed for a monthly fee of $4.99 per month (with no long-term contract).
Best tablet for reading e-books: Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen)
Display Size: 8.3 inches | Display Resolution: 2,266 x 1,488 pixels | Screen Lighting: LED backlit | Dimensions: 7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches | Weight: 10.4 ounces | Storage Capacity: 64GB or 256GB | Primary E-Bookstore Compatibility: Apple Books | Battery Life: Up to 10 days | Special Features: Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + Cellular version available, access millions of optional apps from the App Store, touch ID sensor built in, supports Wi-Fi 6, built-in front- and rear-facing cameras, supports Apple Pencil 2nd Gen stylus (sold separately), works with any Bluetooth keyboard (sold separately)
The iPad Mini is a full-featured tablet that can handle any task a full-size Apple iPad, iPad Air or iPad Pro can handle. However, this model is smaller, lighter and makes for a more convenient e-reader. The tablet comes with the Apple Books app preinstalled. This is an e-reader application that offers seamless access to the Apple Books Store for purchasing e-books and audiobooks. However, from the App Store, it’s easy (and free) to install the Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo Books, Libby by OverDrive or any other third-party e-reader app. For audiobooks and podcasts, the iPad Mini comes preinstalled with Apple Music, but you any install any music, audiobook or podcast app, such as Audible, Spotify or Pandora.
The benefit to an iPad Mini is that it offers a full-color Liquid Retina touchscreen display which is also ideal for watching high-definition video (including TV shows and movies), viewing and editing photos, or playing graphic-intensive games. While the screen brightness can be adjusted, it’s not as easy on the eyes as an e-ink (or Paperwhite) display for extended reading sessions. This type of display is also hard to read in direct sunlight or in brightly lit rooms with overhead lighting that can causes glares.
- It’s a full-featured tablet that can serve as an e-reader or audio player.
- The iPad Mini has integrated speakers for listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts, but you can also pair it with any Bluetooth headphones or earbuds (such as the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen).
- This smaller version of the iPad is easier to hold with one hand during extended reading sessions.
- iPad Mini Smart Covers (available in a variety of colors and styles) are sold separately.
- The optional Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) stylus and a Bluetooth keyboard are sold separately.
- Battery life is up to 10 hours, which is fine for a tablet, but short compared to e-readers with an e-ink display.
- If you plan to store e-books, video files, digital photos and lots of other content, we recommend the 256GB storage option.
- It’s not waterproof.