Why should you buy a dedicated e-reader over, or in addition to, a tablet (which you must already have)? There are several reasons.
E-reader’s non-reflective e-ink displays give you a better reading experience, much closer to that of reading a physical book. This is especially true if you’re reading outdoors, in beautiful sunshine.
E-readers have less distractions than tablets. You won’t be constantly fighting the temptation of games, videos, social media, emails etc.
E-readers provide much longer battery life.
Best e-readers from 6″ to 8″ (or 10.3″)
Amazon Kindle vs Rakuten Kobo
Amazon Kindle vs Rakuten Kobo
Amazon US has a massive selection of content Sync with Readwise; Bluetooth connection; Audiobook Select-and-Translate is very useful if you read in another language More expensive for similar specs; Charges $20 extra to remove ads Poor support for other formats Less flexibility outside Amazon ecosystem / US market Website: Amazon.com/kindle
Supports all ebook formats; more flexibility, esp. outside US market Simplicity design, clean and easy to use More affordable for similar specs Big sizes available at 8″ Forma and 10.3″ Elipsa Less features; smaller selection of content in US market; no audiobook Website: Kobobooks.com/ereaders
Best 6″ & all around e-readers
Kindle Paperwhite Waterproof; bluetooth; free cellular; 300dpi display Amazon’s massive selection of content Ability to select text and translate Tied to Amazon ecosystem; no native support for EPUB etc Costs extra $20 to remove ads Giant bezel, making it much bigger than 6″ Kobo Clara HD 118,933 Reviews $129.99$89.99 at Amazon
Kobo Clara HD Light; fast; smaller; 300 dpi display; no ads Color changing front light (LED cold / natural warm) Supports all the common file formats No audiobooks; not waterproof No bluetooth; no cellular; no USB-C 525 Reviews $119.99$95.72 at Amazon | Also at Kobobooks.com
Best 7″ premium e-readers
Kindle Oasis Aluminum body. Great overall build quality Dual core processor, very fast Expensive Even at this price, still charges $20 extra to remove ads 17,647 Reviews $249.99 at Amazon
Kobo Libra H20 Much more affordable than Kindle Oasis Clean & simple software and interface; waterproof Supports all the common file formats Build quality not as good as Oasis No audiobook; no bluetooth; no cellular 1,183 Reviews $169.95 at Amazon | Also at Kobobooks.com
Best 6″ budget e-readers
Amazon Kindle Bluetooth and audiobook Amazon’s massive selection of content Charges $20 to remove ads Slightly lower resolution at 167 PPI 39,694 Reviews $89.99 at Amazon
Kobo Nia Slightly higher resolution at 212 PPI Supports all the common file formats Clean & simple software and interface No bluetooth, audiobook 9 Reviews $99.99 at Amazon Also at Kobobooks.com
Best 8″ e-reader
Kobo Forma 8″ screen yet light for its size; Waterproof Vertical and horizontal orientation Public library & Dropbox integration Build quality not as good as aluminum framed Kindle Oasis 70 Reviews $249.99 at Amazon | Also at Kobobooks.com
Amazon Kindle and Rakuten Kobo are the top two brands of e-readers. Their designs are very similar, and they both offer entry- to mid-level e-readers at 6″ and 7″, which directly compete with each other. However, if you want a bigger screen, Kobo is the one to go, with a 8″ Forma and 10.3″ Elipsa. Which one to recommend depends on where you are, how you use it and some other small thing, eg:
Amazon has a massive selection of content that is second to none, especially in the US markets. However, Kindle is pretty much tied to Amazon ecosystem and does not support as nearly many non-Amazon ebook formats as Kobo does. This could be pros or cons. If you’re not an Amazon fan, especially if you’re in a market outside the US, Kobo offers more flexibility.
Amazon does not offer “natural” frontlight on their entry- and mid-level Kindle and Paperwhite; it’s only available in Oasis, their premium model. On the other hand, all Kobo models come with this feature, which is very nice if you read at night — many people find it more comfortable to read than the cold blueish LED light.
Software wise, Kobo is simply and easy to use, but Amazon Kindle has more features, eg. syncing with Readwise, select-and-translate function, which is very useful if you read books in another language. All new versions of kindles have built-in bluetooth and you can listen to audiobooks from Audible (you need a bluetooth speaker or earphone), while Kobo does not support bluetooth or audiobooks.
For the same size and specs, Kobo is more affordable. Kindles are not just more expensive, they also charge extra $20 to remove ads (except Kindle Kids, which has no ads but sells $20 more than its non-kids Kindle model). Some people are fine with these book ads, while others find it ridiculous to need to pay extra $20 to remove them.
Best overall 6″ e-readers: Kindle Paperwhite & Kobo Clara HD
Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Clara HD are direct competitors. They both have 6″ glare free touch screen, however Kindle Paperwhite has a giant bezel, making it significantly bigger than Kobo Clara HD in body size (6.6″ vs 6.28″). Compare it side by side, see the image above, and you can really see the difference. If portability is your priority, you should keep this in mind when making your decision.
For many, 6″ is a perfect screen size: It’s big enough to read comfortably, but small enough to carry around, which is especially true for Kobo Clara HD. This is also one of the reasons why we think the best 6″ e-readers are also the best overall.
Waterproof; bluetooth; free cellular; 300dpi display Amazon’s massive selection of content Ability to select text and translate.
Light, fast, smaller; 300 dpi display; no ads Color changing front light (LED cold / natural warm) Supports all the common file formats
Tied to Amazon ecosystem; no native support for EPUB etc Costs extra $20 to remove ads Giant bezel, making it much bigger than 6″ Kobo Clara HD
No audiobooks; not waterproof No bluetooth; no cellular; no USB-C
Best premium 7″ e-readers: Kindle Oasis & Kobo Libra H20
Reasons to buy Kindle Oasis over Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s premium version of its e-reader. Compared with its most popular Paperwhite model, Kindle Oasis comes with these “improvements”:
A larger screen at 7″ (vs 6″ in Paperwhite), though this is not necessarily a good thing for everyone, because 6″ is generally considered to be a good portable size, while 7″ can feel a little large for many to carry around. Interestingly, despite being larger, Oasis weights slightly less (6.6 oz) than Paperwhite (6.8 oz).
Frontlight has 25 LEDs (vs 5 on Paperwhite), which makes it brighter, with better uniformity. Also importantly, the color temperature of frontligh on Oasis is adjustable, similar to its Kobo counterpart; you can enjoy a warmer backlight if you don’t like the cold, blueish light, especially at night.
Better build quality. Notably, Oasis has an aluminum frame (vs plastic on Paperwhite), instantly feeling more premium.
Larger 7″ screen; better build quality. brighter frontlight, color temperature adjustable; auto-adjusting light sensors. Auto rotating page orientation; physical page turn buttons. Oasis ($249.99) costs significantly more than Paperwhite ($89.99). Glass screen reads better but is prone to damage.
Reasons to buy Kobo Libra H20 over Clara HD
A larger screen (7″ vs 6″). Libra H20 is waterproof, IPX8 (hence the name “H20”). Clara HD is not. Libra H20 has physical buttons. Libra H20 costs more ($169.95 vs $95.72). 7″ may feel a little large for some to carry around.
Kobo Libra H20 vs Kindle Oasis
Kobo Libra H20 and Kindle Oasis are, again, direct competitors. They look very similar, however are priced very differently — Kindle Oasis is $80 more expensive, and some say it’s worth it, thanks largely to its premium feel of aluminum body (Kobo Libra H20 is plastic) and overall build quality. It’s a shame, though, that even at this price point, Kindle Oasis still charges $20 extra to remove ads.
Most of us don’t need 32 GB storage (that’s 8,000 ebooks) anyway, but if you want a higher resolution (crispier reading experience) and / or are worried that your e-reader might get spilled on by coffee or your child, then you should pay the $30 extra to get a Paperwhite. One thing interesting, though, both have 6″ screen, but Paperwhite has a much bigger bezel and is 0.3″ (6 mm) taller than Kindle.
Amazon Kindle Kids
If your kids are big enough to warrant their own e-readers, there’s also a “Kindle Kids Edition,” which is essentially the same Kindle, with a few tweaks. It costs $20 more, but has no ads (the non-kids version charges $20 to remove ads); it comes with a free cover (available in blue, pink, rainbow birds & space station), one year free Amazon Kids+ subscription and 2 year worry free guarantee (the non-kids version is 1 year limited). It’s still not waterproof, though, so it’s probably a good idea to ask your kids not to read while eating and drinking.
Amazon Kindle and Kobo Nia are more similar to each other, than Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Clara HD are; that’s because they removed some of the “premium” features that differ Paperwhite and Clara HD. For example:
Paperwhite has one light color, while Clara HD can adjust color temperate (colder or warmer). This is gone on Kobo Nia, which has cold light only, same with Amazon Kindle.
Clara HD lacks Paperwhite’s waterproof ability, which is also gone on Amazon’s entry model. Amazon Kindle is not waterproof, same as Kobo Nia.
Elipsa, Kobo’s most high-end model, is essentially an ebook reader in a giant size, while Boox Note Air and 3 are more like media tablets with a black and white e-ink display. Running on Android and Google Play, Boox Note Air and 3 can do a lot more — for instance, web surfing, as shown on the image above — than just reading and making notes, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your need. If you’re interested in one of these big boys, check out below review videos.
Last update on 2021-10-26. Affiliate links and images from Amazon Product Advertising API.
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