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The best ebook reader you can buy, no matter your budget

By Steven Winkelman


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Over the past decade or so, how we read and consume books has changed drastically. Books don’t always comeon paper anymore and are often read on ebook readers and tablets that allow you tochurn throughas many titlesas you want, whenever you want. Ebook readers are better than tablets for reading in a number of ways. Most of them nowutilizeE Ink technology, which is better for your eyes, your device’s battery, and for reading in direct sunlight.

Of course, there are plenty of ebook readers out there. So which one should you get? If you’re willing to spend the money, the Kobo Aura One is the best for those who use EPUB ebooks and the Kindle Oasis is best for those who’ve always used a Kindle. Here are the best ebook readers money can buy.

Our pick

Kobo Aura One

Kobo Aura One
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this:You want a waterproof ebook reader with a big screen that supports more ebook formats.

Who’s it for:Readers who buy books, use EPUB ebooks, borrow ebooks from the library, or like to read near water.

How much will it cost: $230

Why we picked the Kobo Aura One

The Kobo Aura One boasts a massive 7.8-inch E Ink HD touchscreen. It also has 300 PPI resolution, so letters appear as crisp and clean as they do in print. Since even ebook reader cast blue light, which can keep you up at night, Kobo offers a night setting you can use to eliminate blue light from the screen. When it’s all the way up, the displaytakes on a warm, yellowy hue devoid of blue light.

The Aura One is also fully waterproof, with an IPX8 rating, so you can read in the bath or at the beach. The battery on the Kobo Aura one should last around amonth and its powered by a 1GHz chip.The Aura can evenhandle a large number of ebook formats, so you can download your booksfrom Google Play, your public library, or elsewhere. Overdrive library borrowing is built right into the Kobo store, so getting library books on your ebook reader has never been easier. You can add thousands of books to the Aura One, too, thanks to a commendable8GB of storage.

You will still prefer the Oasis (see the next entry) if you’re deeply embedded in Amazon’s Kindle ebook system, but if you’re not, the Aura One is objectively a better ebook reader. It stifles blue light, supports more ebook formats, has a larger screen, and has built-in borrowing from your public library. Oh, and it costs less.

Our full review

The best Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle Oasis (2017)

amazin kindle oasis review (2017) page
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this:You already have a library of Kindle ebooks, use your ebook reader for audio books, or just love the WhisperSync feature.

Who’s it for:The hardcore reader who’s heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem.

How much will it cost: $250-plus

Why we picked Amazon’s Kindle Oasis (2017)

The original Kindle Oasis was tough to beat, but the 2017Kindle Oasis built upon its outstanding features. It’s currently the best Kindle available, though it’s also the most expensive.So what makes it such a great device? The Kindle Oasisrevels in anexcellent design — featuring a beautiful 7-inch display, a pixel density of 300 pixels per inch, and well-placed navigation buttons.

While the 2017 Oasis doesn’t come with a battery cover, the battery life has improved and can last up to six weeks on a single charge. That is assuming you’re only reading half an hour a day and not extensively using the Bluetooth or backlight, but it only took about an hour to fully charge. This type of battery life is still impressive, especially given how thin the device is. There are also built-in ambient light sensors, which adapt to your surroundings so that you don’t have to constantly adjust the screen.

Ebooks are pretty lightweight, so internal storage isn’t generally as important for an ebook reader as it is for a tablet or smartphone. The Kindle Oasis now offers 8GB of storage, which is enough for thousands of books. It’s possible to get library books on your Kindle, too. Overdrive has a simple interface that lets you send ebooks to your Kindle over the internet — no plugging in required. You can also highlight passages from your favorite books and share them on social media.

As far as new features go, the 2017 Kindle Oasis is a long-awaited waterproof version with an IPX8 rating, which means it’s protected against immersion in up to 6.5 feet of fresh water. It’s also the first to support audiobooks from Audible. If you own both the audiobook and ebook of a certain title, you can easily switch back and forth between formats.

Sadly, it still only accepts select ebook formats and, as previously mentioned, is pricey. Regardless, it’s our favorite Kindle and the one you should buy if you don’t mind shelling out extra money for this innovative ebook reader.

Our full review

The best Kindle for less than $150

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle-Paperwhite_0037
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this:You have a lot of Kindle ebooks, but you want a cheaper Kindle.

Who’s it for:If you can’t splurge on the Oasis, the Paperwhite is the next best thing for a Kindle user.

How much will it cost: $120-plus

Why we picked the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite was last updated in 2015, but it’s still an excellent choice for the bookworm. Ebook readers generally have a longer lifespan than smartphones or tablets, largely because they’re built for one thing and one thing only — reading. The Kindle Paperwhite delivers on that front.

First off, the Kindle Paperwhite offers a beautiful high-resolution display, with a 300 pixel-per-inch pixel density — the same one that is on the Oasis, in fact. It is inset, however, so there are rubbery bezels around it. Those can be good for gripping while reading, but they make the Paperwhite a tad bulkier. Even so, this 6-inch ebook reader is light and easy to hold with one hand while reading. There aren’t any page turn buttons, sadly, but if you prefer using the touchscreen instead, you won’t be bothered.

The Kindle Paperwhite ships with 4GB of onboard storage — about enough for 3,000 ebooks. You have access to Kindle Unlimited, the ability to download library books, and the option to share your favorite passages on social media.

As far as battery life goes, the Paperwhite will last for up to six weeks on a single charge. The Paperwhite isn’t waterproof, though, and remains limited to select ebook formats, so no EPUB files unless you want to get into the file conversion process. Regardless, it’s the best midrange option for anyone who wants a Kindle.

Our full review

The best ebook reader for less than $150

Kobo Clara HD

Kobo Clara HD review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this:You’re looking for an inexpensive ebook reader with a front-lit HD display and plenty of storage.

Who’s it for: The reader who enjoys purchasing media in multiple formats.

How much will it cost: $130

Why we chose the Kobo Clara HD

While Kindle may be the best-known brand of ebook readers, it’s not the only company who makes them. In fact, Kobo ebook readers have been around for nearly a decade and have become a cult favorite among heavy readers.

The Kobo Clara HD is basically what we would expect from the next Kindle Paperwhite refresh. It features a gorgeous 300 PPI screen, 8GB of storage, and the battery is large enough that you should get you around a month of reading on a single charge. It also offers an innovative illumination feature called ComfortLight Pro that uses red and orange LEDs to illuminate the screen without the need for blue light, which can cause trouble sleeping.

So why would go for a non-Kindle ebook reader? The primary reason is because Kobo is compatible with many more formats than Kindle, giving you the freedom to purchase your ebooks directly from the publisher, as well as dozens of other third-party retailers.

Our Full Review

The best cheap Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2016

Why you should buy this:You want a cheap ebook reader with no frills, or maybe you just like the white color option.

Who’s it for: Kindle users on a budget who want the best deal.

How much will it cost: $80-plus

Why we chose the Kindle

Amazon offers a wide range of Kindles to accommodate different budgets, so you don’t have to pay $200-plus to own one.The basic Kindle ships with a 6-inch E Ink display with a 167 PPI. As such, it’s good for daytime reading, but at night, you still need your reading light to see the words on the page. It comes packed with 4GB of storage, which should hold around 3,o00 ebooks.

Amazon updated the basic Kindle in 2016 with an improved design that comes in both black and white color options. It weighs just 5.7 ounces — which means it’s 16 percent lighter, but also 11 percent thinner than the previous model. It doesn’t have page-turning buttons, but the screen is touch sensitive. There is not much else that has changed in design, but internally you will find double the RAM at 512MB. It features Bluetooth audio, which can boost accessibility with VoiceView — a tool that reads out everything on your screen.

You will pay $80 for this Kindle if you don’t mind ads, but there is always the $100 ad-free model for those of you who can’t stand them.

How we test

Testing ebook readersis one of the best parts of the job. It’s every bookworm’s dream to get paid to read! Testing is about more than just reading, though. To put an ebook reader through its paces, we test the screen’s brightness in different lighting conditions, we test its toughness in a variety of environments, and if it is waterproof, we dunk it in the tub to see how it handles a spill into a bubble bath.

We go through the process of buying ebooks from the provided stores, borrowing ebooks from public libraries, and transferring existing ebook files onto the ebook reader itself. We’ve also gone through the pain of converting ebook files to different formats to fully understand just how annoying exclusionary ebook file types are for readers.

But most of all, we read, just like you would at home, so we can tell you what it’s like for a book lover to go digital.

Which ebook reader support which ebook formats?

One of the most annoying things about ebooks is that there are many file types, and certain ebook readers don’t support certain formats. Here’s a breakdown of which ebook readers support which formats.

Kindle

  • Kindle Format 8 (AZW3)
  • Kindle (AZW)
  • TXT
  • PDF
  • unprotected MOBI
  • PRC

HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP files are only supported through conversion. EPUB files are not supported, and conversion requires breaking Digital Rights Management, which is a real hassle. Apple iBooks are not supported either.

Kobo

  • EPUB
  • EPUB3
  • PDF
  • MOBI
  • JPEG
  • GIF
  • PNG
  • BMP
  • TIFF
  • TXT
  • HTML
  • RTF
  • CBZ
  • CBR

Kindle files and Apple iBooks are not supported, however, Kobo supports the most file formats natively of any ebook reader.


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