Packing thousands of books into one little box, e-readers can be the saviours of book lovers who are looking for something to take on holiday or their commute, or just a way of shrinking down a library. But there’s a huge range out there – with different screens and shops – so we’ve picked through the best.
It’s worth thinking about whether you want an e-ink display or a classic tablet. E-ink mimics the look of the printed page – so you get none of the eye strain or glare that you get on a normal display. But it is slow to change, isn’t as detailed and often comes in a smaller package, so photos and illustrations won’t show up anywhere near as nicely.
And it’s also worth remembering that e-ink, like a real book, depends on light around it to be read. To fix that, some models add in a backlight so that you can read in the dark.
The main thing that sets many of the e-readers apart is the shops they use, and each have their own built in by default. Amazon has the biggest and often cheapest of the shops, but many others are just as good – and you can check in advance, to be sure that you’re going to be able to get books from your favourite authors and publishers. But you can stick your own documents on most e-readers too, meaning that you can buy straight from the publisher.
Most e-readers will send the books over wifi. But some — including the Kindle as well as more conventional tablets — will also connect over 3G so that you can download books wherever you are.
1. Kindle Voyage e-reader: £169.99, amazon.co.uk
The Voyage is the ultimate Kindle. You get a slim gadget with an extremely crisp, paper-like display, a built-in light that adjusts to your surroundings and a super-quick page-turning function.
2. Amazon Kindle: £59.99, amazon.co.uk
If you’re on a budget, this gives you a highly-readable, user-friendly touchscreen and access to the Kindle store’s nearly four million titles. You’ll just have to manage without the backlight and pin-sharp screen.
3. Kindle Paperwhite: £98.99, amazon.co.uk
The Paperwhite got a 2015 upgrade, giving it the same quality display as the Voyage. It also has an effective backlight and there’s an option for 3G if you’re going to be out of a WIFI zone.
4. Nook Glowlight: £89, nook.com
This has a powerful light for reading in the dark (slighter brighter than the Kindle Paperwhite). It’s also lighter than its rival, though the Barnes and Noble store can’t match Amazon’s for choice.
5. iPad Air 2: From £399, apple.com
Tablets don’t have the e-ink display, but they do give you crisp colours – ideal for graphic novel or magazine fans – and more functionality than an e-reader, as well as access to Apple’s iBooks catalogue. You’ll need to ramp up the brightness to read in the sun, though.
6. iPad Mini 3: From £319, apple.com
The iPad Mini has all the advantages of the Air when it comes to reading and web-surfing – sharp screen, good choice of books – and, at almost exactly the size of a paperback, it’s easy to hold.
7. Galaxy Tab S: £349, samsung.com
Despite not having an e-ink screen, Samsung’s Galaxy tablet has a crystal-clear interface, a huge battery life and choice for book-buying; Google Play Books and apps including the Kindle Store. Comes in two sizes.
8. Nexus 7 e-reader: £155, tesco.com
Google’s own Nexus tablet is perfectly sized for reading, and has a crisp screen. It’s not as fast as some of its competitors, but that won’t hamper you getting through the books and it benefits from all the other functions of a tablet, at a lower price than others on the list.
9. Kobo Glo HD e-reader: £109.99, whsmith.co.uk
This beats the Kindle Paperwhite on the numbers: it has a more detailed screen, it’s smaller, lighter, has twice the storage and you can customise the look of books. The shop isn’t as vast or as good-value as Amazon, but that won’t be a problem if you’re putting your own books straight onto it.
10. Kobo Aura H20: £139.99, argos.co.uk
Avid bath time reader? If so, this splash-proof model might be for you. It’s thicker than some, making it easy to hold with slippery hands and it has a slightly larger screen – but what you’re paying for here is the safe-in-water factor.
The Kindle Voyage is the best e-ink e-reader you can get – a beautiful, thin design and a clear screen make it perfect for almost any use. But you do pay up, and if you want something smaller then the Kindle Paperwhite does many of the same things.
If you’re reading comics, books with lots of illustrations or those with important drawing or diagrams, then a tablet might serve better than a classic e-reader. In that case, Apple’s iPad or the best Android tablets will do the job.
Acknowledgements: The Independent