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Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite at Amazon
"Takes the accessibility of the Kindle and improves it dramatically with backlighting, better readability, waterproofing."
Best Features: Amazon Fire HD 8 at Amazon
"For those who want a combination e-reader and tablet…the absolute best choice at a very wallet-friendly price."
Best Essentials: 2019 Amazon Kindle at Amazon
"It's no surprise the latest Kindle is also the best one ever released."
Best Splurge: Kindle Oasis 2019 at Amazon
"Optimized for reading in all lighting conditions."
Best Budget: Nook 7-Inch Tablet (2018 Edition) at Barnes and Noble
"On top of the low base price, the e-book library has more than a million titles that cost $5 or less."
Best Apple E-Reader: Apple iPad (2018) at Apple
"A larger and more colorful screen than most e-readers offer."
Best Big Screen: Onyx BOOX Note S at Amazon
"A whopping 9.7-inch e-ink display easily equates to larger fonts and more reading on a single screen."
When it comes to e-readers, the single best choice for seniors — and most people, for that matter — is the newest Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle Paperwhite takes the accessibility of the Kindle and improves it dramatically with backlighting, better readability, waterproofing, and more. The first aspect seniors may appreciate is the Paperwhite’s 300 pixel-per-inch screen, which offers clear and glare-free reading, even in sunlight. In the settings, you also have the ability to increase or decrease the text size for more comfortable reading.
If you like to spend time near the beach or pool, the Paperwhite is waterproof and can survive immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to one hour. And for those that enjoy listening to audiobooks, the Paperwhite has you covered with Audible compatibility and the ability to switch seamlessly between reading the book version and listening to the audiobook version of a title. The battery also lasts for up to two weeks on a single charge.
For those who want a combination e-reader and tablet, Amazon’s Fire HD8 is the absolute best choice at a very wallet-friendly price. This device is primarily a tablet, but unlike many of its competitors, it includes several of the best features from the company’s dedicated e-reader lineup. The built-in Kindle app is ideal for reading, with easy font resizing functions that can be adjusted for your comfort. Readers can also choose from four different background colors on the eight-inch HD display, each of which is designed to reduce eye fatigue.
Subscribing to a Prime membership opens the door to thousands of books and magazines that can be individually purchased on Amazon, typically for less than the cost of the printed book. More voracious readers can also subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan for $9.99 per month, which expands the library by more than a million books and lets you read as many as you want without paying for each separate title.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 also offers access to hundreds of thousands of apps beyond its Kindle functions. From games to news, weather, sports, email and more, there’s something for everyone — plus, the ten-hour battery life lets you enjoy your media for longer between charges. Older users will love hands-free Alexa, which allows you to use your voice to start an audiobook, set an alert, play a TV show, and much more. This tablet comes in four different colors and a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage.
The new-for-2019 Kindle is a beautiful option for older tech users for a variety of reasons. First off, like the rest of the Kindle line, the screen aims to mimic an actual book, not a fancy OLED display. This is great for all readers because it helps with eye fatigue, but for senior readers, it’s extra important. The new option also brings in a beautiful 4-LED front-lit screen so it’s easy to read, even at night or outside of direct lighting. With 167 PPI of resolution, the crispness gets pretty close to actual words printed on a display.
There’s 4GB of onboard storage which is plenty for thousands of full-length books, and depending on your use, you should get weeks of battery life out of this. This is all great for older readers because they won’t have to think about charging the device all the time, and they naturally won’t need to carry around thousands of books. And because the device is only about a third of an inch thick and less than half a pound in weight, it’ll be really easy to carry. The best part? At the price, it isn’t going to break the bank but offers the front-lighting and the portability of the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite.
Not only does the Kindle Oasis brings millions of books to your fingertips, it's optimized for reading in all lighting conditions as well. Night Mode tints the screen yellow to make it easier to read when it gets darker, and you can manually adjust the "warmth" level of the light to match your preferences. You can even schedule it to shift during the day. This, along with the advanced e-ink technology, helps mimic the appearance of a real book. Its raised back makes it comfortable and easy to hold.
The new Oasis is designed to be read everywhere, including in the tub, by the pool or at the beach. Its IPX8 rating means it’s built to withstand being submerged in up to two meters of water for an hour. The basic model has 8GB of storage, but a 32GB model is available for those who prefer audiobooks or don’t want to worry about space.
Barnes and Noble
When it comes to buying books, Barnes & Noble is one of the few brands outside of Amazon that has offered a dependable destination for both physical and digital books. The newest Nook tablet has become the best budget pick for e-readers due to its pared-down price, which makes it an excellent value for a full-featured e-reader. On top of the low base price, the Nook’s vast e-book library has more than a million titles that cost $5 or less, so you won’t even have to spend much to fill out your digital library.
The Nook’s screen is a seven-inch IPS display optimized for reading, and it has 16GB of internal storage (double the previous model), so you can keep lots of books and other media on your device. Because the Nook runs on Android Oreo software, you can also access other apps, games, movies, and songs from the Google Play store. Battery life is not the greatest at roughly 7 hours, but if you charge the device every two days, you’ll likely be fine.
Over the years, the Apple iPad has become a somewhat niche device for light browsing and games at home or a lightweight work tool. But not enough people appreciate that it’s also a great e-reader, especially for seniors who want a larger and more colorful screen than most e-readers offer. The newest base model of the iPad costs $329 and lets you read books from most ebook providers, including Apple Books, Kindle, Google Play Books, Bookari, and Scribd. The iPad’s screen is 9.7 inches with 264 pixels-per-inch resolution, so it’s good for reading, watching videos, browsing the web, and much more. It weighs about one pound, which is not light by e-reader standards but is still light enough to hold for long periods.
When you’re not reading, the iPad also includes an 8MP back camera for taking photos on the go and a 1.2MP front camera for selfies or FaceTime video calls with the grandkids. The device can last about 10 hours on a single charge for reading, surfing the web, watching movies, and more.
While BOOX may be a name that doesn’t offer the same recognition as Amazon’s Kindle line in the U.S., the Note S e-reader offers a whopping 9.7-inch e-ink display. For seniors, this easily equates to larger fonts and more reading done on a single screen. Beyond reading various e-book formats, the Note S has the capability to hold audiobooks as well since it comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The N96 takes things up another notch with the inclusion of some Android-specific features, including an email app, photo gallery, clock, calendar, and Internet browser that might not be as functional in black and white, but it’s a nice addition regardless. The N96 also includes a stylus for writing directly on the screen for taking notes while reading or for use with other apps downloaded directly from Google's Play Store. With a battery life that can last for weeks without a recharge, the Note S might be small on name recognition, but it’s big on both display size and features.
Our writers spent 100 hours researching and testing the most popular e-readers for seniors on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
Size and weight - If you’re looking for an e-reader for a senior, size and weight are things to take into consideration. Someone having trouble with fine motor control should consider a larger device with a big screen. If that’s not a problem, look into getting a lighter device so it doesn’t become burdensome to hold.
Contrast and backlight - Many seniors have eyesight trouble, so you want to make sure the e-reader you choose has great contrast. You should also consider a model with a backlight, which makes reading easier regardless of lighting conditions.
Text size - One of the advantages of e-readers — as opposed to traditional books — is that you can make the text much larger. It’s worth playing around with different e-readers to ensure that the text size is big enough for you (or the senior in your life) to read.
8 GB of storage
MOBI format not compatible with local libraries
Some glare on screen
The Newest Generation Amazon Kindle Paperwhite came highly recommended by our testers for its increased storage space and sleek design. One of our reviewers said, “It's compact, which means it's easy to take on vacations, and the waterproof feature is a perk.” The negatives? One of our testers reported, “The glare on the screen is harsher than other models, and the .txt only file format wasn't compatible with anything outside of the Kindle store (i.e. local libraries).” Our reviewers also weren’t fans of the experimental browser. However, our testers felt that overall its capabilities as an e-reader made it a worthwhile purchase: “The storage makes it great for purchase as well, as it holds double the book amount,” one of our reviewers remarked.
Helpful Alexa voice control
Navigation is slow
Our testers loved the Amazon Fire HD 8 for its sturdy design and convenient Alexa voice control. “Hands-free Alexa is truly holistic,” noted one of our reviewers. While one of our testers reported “sluggish” navigation and “tinny” audio, she also said, “It’s a great price for a multimedia streaming tablet if you don’t want to break the bank, as long as you’re not naive to the quality of the screen and don’t want to push it to any extremes.” The takeaway: If you’re looking for a versatile e-reader with voice control, this is a great pick, according to our reviewers.