We review eBook readers, along with some tablets, priced from $100 to $649.
Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which e-readers:
- have the best design for reading eBooks
- are the easiest to use as an e-reader
- have the best readability, and
- are easy to use for purchasing eBooks.
On this page, you'll find:
Ebook fans have never had it so good, with the latest generation of e-readers lasting longer, performing faster and costing less.
Electronic readers (e-readers) use an e-ink display to simulate the appearance of a paper book. And, unlike other electronic viewing devices, such as laptops and tablets, they don’t require a backlight (although recent models do include a light within the screen if needed). This means less strain on the eyes after prolonged viewing and good readability even in direct sunlight. E-readers last weeks on a single charge, and most can hold thousands of ebooks either on the device or on a removable storage card.
Tablets on test
The huge and growing popularity of tablets is influencing e-reader design for the better. All but one of the e-readers on test use a touchscreen, with page turns and menu access done by tapping or swiping your finger on or across the screen in much the same way as a tablet.
Tablet fans may be surprised by the comparatively poor performance of tablets compared with e-readers, particularly given the latest generation of e-readers have adopted the touchscreen interface that made tablets such a big hit. But to be clear on what this test is about; we measure the overall experience when reading an ebook, not how easy it is to update a Facebook status or how fantastic a video looks on the HD resolution screen. Once a backlit screen is introduced to a device it becomes very difficult to deliver an ideal reading experience, particularly when viewing the screen for several hours, which is often the case when reading an ebook.
If you want a tablet as your primary device but would like to read the occasional ebook, you might also want to look at the results for the iPad mini or Google Nexus 7 due to their comfortable form factor and lower price compared to the larger, more expensive tablet devices.
If you're not interested in tablets at all, you can filter results in the results table to only show ebook readers.
E-ink reader models tested
- Amazon Kindle
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G (newly tested)
- Icarus eXcel
- Kobo Aura HD (newly tested)
- Kobo Glo
- Kobo Mini
- Kobo Touch Edition
- Sony PRS-T3 (newly tested)
- Sony PRS-T2
- Apple iPad mini 32GB
- Apple iPad 32GB
- Google Nexus 7
- Kindle Fire 7
- Kindle Fire HD (newly tested)
- Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch (newly tested)
- Kobo Arc 32GB
- Kobo Arc 7HD (newly tested)
Our testing e-readers focuses on design and ease of use, and includes an ease of use as an e-reader assessment by our expert tester, Scott O'Keefe, as well as an assessment on the ease of purchasing eBooks online and transferring them to the e-reader.
Other aspects looked at include:
Ease of navigation, including turning a page and skipping to particular parts of the eBook, were commented on and scored.
Our tester spent time during the day and a night with each eBook reader so it could be used under three different types of lighting: normal indoor lighting, normal outdoor lighting and normal bedroom night-time lighting.