Buying Guides Entertainment

The Best Ebook Reader: 7 Models Compared

Dann Albright 21-06-2016

If you’re an avid reader How to Use Your Kindle to Read More Books Many of us have a desire to read more books, but it's hard to find the time and inclination to do so. Your Kindle can help you achieve this goal. Here's how... Read More — and even if you’re not — an ebook reader is a must-have item. You can carry thousands of books in your pocket, read for days without recharging the battery, and buy new books on the go. There’s even a ton of free content How to Find Free Unlimited Content for Your Kindle Looking for more things to read on your Kindle? Here are all the websites, tools, and tips to fill your e-reader with high-quality free content that will keep you reading for hours Read More out there that you can download for your e-reader.


But if you’re going to buy one, which one should you buy? It seems like new options come out all the time with a range of new features and even more widely varied prices. Which ones are worth shelling out for? Let’s take a look at your options.

The Ultra-Premium Range


There’s really only one e-book reader that falls into this range, and that’s Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis. At almost $300 for the reader with ads, and a staggering $380 for the ad-free option with 3G, you can actually buy a small computer Best Laptops Under $300: Everything You Need to Know Finding a good laptop for less than $300 is almost impossible these days, but can be done if you know what to look for. Here's everything you need to know to make a purchase you... Read More for the price of this e-reader. But it’s by far and away the best one out there.

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Kindle Oasis E-reader (Previous Generation - 9th) - Graphite, 7" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi), Waterproof, Built-In Audible, 8 GB, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers (Closeout) Kindle Oasis E-reader (Previous Generation - 9th) - Graphite, 7" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi), Waterproof, Built-In Audible, 8 GB, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers (Closeout) Buy Now On Amazon $188.17

The thinnest part of the Oasis (our Kindle Oasis review Amazon Kindle Oasis Review Would you pay $290 for an eReader? Amazon bets that bookworms neck-deep in Amazon's eBook market will buy the Kindle Oasis. But you might come to find a bone-dry Oasis. Read More ) is 0.13″ thick, and without the cover, it weighs just over 4.5 ounces. Ten built-in LEDs provide eye-friendly illumination (though it lacks the adaptive light sensor of other models), a 300 pixels per inch (PPI) screen gives you great resolution for reading or viewing images, and the battery life is phenomenal — Amazon says you can go “months” without plugging in, depending on your usage.


The Oasis also has page-turn buttons that harken back to the original Kindle; while it might seem like a step backward from touch screen page turning, it’s actually really nice. The entire Oasis has been designed for ergonomic comfort for both right- and left-handers, and the included leather cover adds a touch of class (as well as added charging capabilities).

In short, it’s the best ebook reader out there 3 Compelling Reasons to Buy an Amazon Kindle Oasis Once you get over the shock of the price of the Kindle Oasis, you'll find that it actually offers a lot of bang for your buck. Here are three reasons to consider buying one. Read More .

The Premium Range

Of course, not everyone is able — or willing — to spend that much on an e-reader. If you still want a top-of-the-line experience, though, you’re in luck, as there are a number of good options. As you might expect, Kindle e-readers feature prominently in this range.



Before the release of the Oasis, the Kindle Voyage was Amazon’s most expensive reader — even today, when it starts at $200, it’s still a significant investment. It packs a lot of the same benefits as the Oasis, just in slightly budget-friendlier versions. There are six LEDs instead of 10, for example, and the battery life is estimated at “weeks” instead of “months.” There’s no included charging cover, and the PagePress buttons are more similar to touchscreen page-turning (though they’re still on the bezel, which is great).

Amazon Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage E-reader, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers Kindle Voyage E-reader, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers Buy Now On Amazon $85.22

All that being said, the Voyage is still a phenomenal reader, as it packs non-backlight illumination, an adaptive light sensor, 300 PPI resolution, and comes in at under 7 ounces. This is the reader that I use myself, and I absolutely love it.



Instead of opting to compete directly with the Voyage, Kobo decided to go down a different road: their high-level ebook reader, the Aura H20 is waterproof (they say it’s rated up to 30 minutes in one meter of water with the port cover closed). This is perfect for summer reading on the beach or reading in the bath. Another big advantage of the Kobo is that its base price is its only price: you don’t pay extra to go ad-free, like you do with Kindle. And at $180, it’s cheaper than a Voyage.

Kobo Aura H2O

Kobo Aura H2O 6.8-Inch Comfort Light, Water Resistant E-Reader (Black) Kobo Aura H2O 6.8-Inch Comfort Light, Water Resistant E-Reader (Black) Buy Now On Amazon

Besides the waterproofing, though, you’ll see a couple compromises. The screen, for example, is 265 dpi, which is less than that of the Voyage. There’s no option for 3G connectivity, so you’ll always need to be connected to Wi-Fi to get new books.  It does pack the Kobo ComfortLight, which is easier on your eyes than a backlight, and battery life is listed as two months, depending on usage, though, which is great.

At just over 8.5 ounces, it’s a bit heavier than the competition, but some of that weight likely comes from the microSD card slot, which lets you add up to 32GB of storage to your device, a unique bonus among popular e-readers. And the screen is larger than any of its competitors at 6.8″ (everything else is 6″). The Aura H20 — along with the other options presented below — proves that you shouldn’t only look at Kindles Which Kindle Device Should You Buy? A Comparison Guide There are four different Kindle e-readers available to buy for various kinds of users. But which Kindle device is right for you? Read More .



Barnes and Noble’s Nook GlowLight Plus also packs waterproofing, and a 300-dpi screen, but comes in at a more reasonable $130. The rest of the features are much as you’d expect: glare- and scratch-resistant screen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and an always-on GlowLight that lets you read in the dark or in bright sunlight without straining your eyes. And with battery life for six weeks of 30-minutes-per-day reading, you won’t be charging it much.

Since this article was published, a newer version has been released, the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2.
Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 Buy Now On Amazon

Barnes and Noble Nook GlowLight Plus

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Plus eReader - Waterproof & Dustproof (BNRV510) (Renewed) Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Plus eReader - Waterproof & Dustproof (BNRV510) (Renewed) Buy Now On Amazon

The biggest worry with a Nook is that Barnes and Noble’s reader hasn’t sold as well as they’d hoped, and they’re reportedly cutting costs in their e-reader division. While there’s no indication that the Nook itself is going away, it’s a worrying trend.


The Voyage’s little brother, the Kindle Paperwhite, has come down quite a bit in price to a much more reasonable $100. You don’t get the PagePress functionality (it’s touchscreen page-turning only), you come down to four LEDs instead of six, and you gain about an ounce in weight. Like the Voyage and Oasis, the Paperwhite can be purchased with 3G functionality, as well as in an ad-free form, though both of these will cost you extra on top of the base price of $100.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader (Previous Generation - 7th) - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers Kindle Paperwhite E-reader (Previous Generation - 7th) - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers Buy Now On Amazon $74.99

The Standard Range

If you’re thinking that ebook readers are way more expensive than you expected, you’ll be happy to hear that you can get the introductory-level Kindle and Kobo readers for less than $100.


Kobo’s Touch 2.0, at $90, has most of the same features as the Glo HD, but without a light. You still get the anti-glare touchscreen, solid battery life, and 6.5-ounce weight, but you won’t be doing any reading in the dark. You’ll also have to settle for a 167 dpi screen, but you don’t have to look at ads when you lock the device.

Kobo Touch 2.0


The standard Kindle is the same; at $60 for an ad-enabled version, you get a 167 dpi touchscreen, no option for 3G, and a 6.7-ounce body.

Amazon Kindle

Kindle E-reader (Previous Generation - 8th) - Black, 6" Display, Wi-Fi, Built-In Audible - Includes Special Offers Kindle E-reader (Previous Generation - 8th) - Black, 6" Display, Wi-Fi, Built-In Audible - Includes Special Offers Buy Now On Amazon

Both of these readers come without any frills, but they still let you take advantage of the best parts of owning an ebook reader: you can download thousands of books, read in bright sunlight, and carry them in your pocket.

Ebook Readers You Already Have

You might not know this, but you probably already have a device that you can use to read ebooks. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can download the Kindle, Kobo, or Nook apps and use them to buy and read books (you can also use these apps to supplement your e-reader; I often use the Kindle app on my phone for a few minutes of quick reading if I don’t have my Kindle with me).


The obvious advantage of this is that the apps are free; you’ll just have to pay for books. This is a great way to take advantage of ebooks without shelling out for an e-reader. However, there are some disadvantages Should You Buy a Kindle or Just Use the Free App? Just about everyone owns an e-reader these days -- and most people own Kindles. But do you really need a Kindle when you can just use the Kindle app? Let's find out... Read More , too. Ebook readers are very light and ergonomic, whereas holding your phone or tablet for long periods of time isn’t really ideal. The presence of a backlight on your current mobile devices is also hard on your eyes, even when in night mode.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, iBooks is also a great choice for an e-reader; in fact, maybe people prefer the reading experience Kindle vs. iBooks: Which Is The Best eReader For Your iPad or iPhone? Apple's iBooks and Amazon's Kindle are two of the best apps for reading a book and each has its own strengths and weaknesses – but which is right for your reading habits? Read More to that of the Kindle or other ebook reader apps. Again, if you already have the device, you don’t have to pay for the app, and that’s a great deal.

You can also download ebook reader apps for your computer, which, while also not terribly ergonomic, is great for when you want to take a quick break from whatever you’re doing to read.

The Best Ebook Reader

As you may have guessed, the Kindle Oasis runs away with the title of best ebook reader when price is no object. The extreme thinness and light weight combined with ambidextrous page turn buttons, 10 LEDs, huge battery life, and an included leather charging cover make this one a no-brainer. If you want the best e-reader out there, get the Oasis.

amazon kindle oasis profile lockscreen

Most people, however, aren’t going to be willing to spend that much on an ebook reader, which is why the premium range of readers offers a much better overall value proposition. It’s hard to choose between the Kindle Voyage and the Kobo Aura, as they both provide a lot of value for their respective costs. The Voyage, however, has a higher-resolution screen, weighs less, has PagePress buttons, and gives you the possibility of 3G, making it the all-around winner for features and price. If you can spend the $200–$290, it’s absolutely worth it.

The fact that it’s not waterproofed is a bit of a drawback compared to the Aura, but there’s a good chance that Amazon will add a water-resistant Kindle to the lineup in the near future. Whether you want to hold off buying one to see if they do depends on how likely you are to drop your ebook reader in the water.

Of course, everyone has different priorities, and yours will determine which reader is best for you. But all things held equal, the Voyage is the best bet for features and price.

Do you have an e-reader? Which do you think is best? Which features are most important? Share your thoughts below!

Related topics: Amazon Kindle, Ebooks, eReader.

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  1. Gabor Banoczi
    August 5, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    It is interesting that this is the umpteenth review that I come across as I am researching e-readers that do not mention Android based e-ink display devices, like the Icarus, the ONYX BOOX, or the inkBOOK devices.
    These are completely open in their software design, and therefore not restricted to the particular ecosystem of the above mentioned devices. I, for example, like to read my daily news fix and email without the backlight of common LCDs. Those devices let me do that with a Wi-Fi connection.

  2. Bob
    June 23, 2016 at 1:51 am

    I still use my nook simple, with my phone and tablet as backup readers. After 5 years, the nook's charge lasts for days, so I only plug it in weekends. Only two faults, no backlight and earlier models had an mp3 player. (I miss reading with music!)

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Five years is great life for an electronic device . . . ereaders do seem to have really good lifespans. My wife's original Kindle has been going pretty much forever. I've never used an MP3 player on an ereader; that's an interesting idea! What kind of music do you listen to when you read? I go back and forth on whether or not I can. Currently in silence mode.

  3. Ky
    June 22, 2016 at 12:58 am

    The rendering of content is far more important than other.

    I have a Nook and it doesn't render PDF well, most of the time it will just show whole page in the 6" screen, and I hardly to read the tiny word.

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Yeah, PDF support on ereaders is really hit or miss . . . usually miss, as far as I can tell. PDF reading is best on a tablet, I think. If it's a text-based PDF and you can use an OCR program to turn it into text, that'll work, but if you just have an image, it's often not even worth it.

  4. Chris
    June 21, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    PocketBook is defintely worth mentioning, too.

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 25, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      They're also coming out with an 8-inch e-reader. If the rumor is true, it might reveal how ridiculously overpriced the Kindle Oasis is. Better hardware and a lower price.

      • Dann Albright
        June 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

        I don't know a whole lot about PocketBook, but I'd definitely be interested in learning more about an 8" reader. What makes you say the hardware is better than the Kindle, Kannon? The Oasis is crazy overpriced, and if anything can bring the price down, that would be awesome. It's a phenomenal reader, but the price is just out of control.

        • Kannon Yamada
          June 27, 2016 at 5:57 pm

          Oops, it was Kobo, not PocketBook, that's coming out with a 7.8-inch device. PocketBook is mainly a European producer of e-readers, although their devices are really good, too.

          That's a great question. The current generation of e-reader processor and screen technologies are 3-4 years old. The next generation is hitting products this year and next year. The main difference between the old and new stuff is going to be in battery life and page turns. Basically, you should be able to turn pages faster. Unfortunately, the battery life bump of the i.MX7 processor will probably translate into thinner devices. Even so, we might even see solar-powered e-readers over the next couple years.

          I agree with you on the Oasis -- best in class, at a ridiculous price point. However, it's also using the older standard of technology, which means there's a lot of room for improvement.

        • Dann Albright
          July 7, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          Faster page turns would be really nice! I don't generally notice the speed of the page turns on my current Kindle, but that's probably just because I've gotten so used to using it. And increased battery life is always great!

  5. Anonymous
    June 21, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    "If you’re an avid reader — and even if you’re not — an ebook reader is a must-have item."
    Not so. A book is a must.

    "You can carry thousands of books in your pocket"
    Big, fat, hairy deal! You only read one book at a time. When are you going to read all those "thousands of books in your pocket"? How much will those "thousands of books in your pocket" (most of which you will never get around to reading) cost you?

    "read for days without recharging the battery"
    Hard copy books need NO batteries that need recharging.

    "There’s even a ton of free content out there that you can download for your e-reader."
    ALL content is free at the public library, not just a ton.

    • Doc
      June 21, 2016 at 8:52 pm


      Hardcopy books also require a light, and must be carried with you; each new book adds weight.

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Whether an ereader or a book is a must is totally up to personal opinion. Also, I know a lot of people who read multiple books concurrently, and ereaders help a lot with that, especially if you want to do any reading away from home. As for how much thousands of books in your pocket will cost you, it's exactly like with hard copy books; it depends. It's easy to find free Kindle books, they go on sale all the time, you can get them from friends, you can get them from the library (where, yes, all content is free, including ebooks).

  6. Mike Marshall
    June 21, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    I bought a Kobo Aura H2O last year and I love it.

    The deal breakers for me were the larger 6.8" screen and the inclusion of a Pocket client. Much of the stuff I reader is saved via Pocket and being able to keep up with a daily reading list on an ereader is much easier on my aging eyes that using a tablet.

    As for the DPI, I can't tell any real difference from my original Kobo Glo (213dpi) and the Kobo Aura H2O (265dpi), beside both are superior to most printed books.

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Built-in Pocket support is great! I have an IFTTT recipe set up to deliver some articles to my Kindle, but I don't use it nearly as much as I should. I should really use that more; reading on the e-ink screen is just so much better. Glad to hear that you liked the bigger screen; I wasn't sure if the tradeoff between more screen real estate and a slightly less easily portable size was worth it or not. Maybe I'll have to check it out!

    • Anne Edwards
      June 28, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      Mr Mike Marshall: Did you mean "deal makers", because "deal breakers" would mean (to most) characteristics that made you decide not to buy; i.e. "sorry, no deal".