The 8 Best E-Readers for Seniors in 2019

With large fonts and simplified menus, these e-readers are perfect for seniors

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Previous Generation)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite is the part of in the company’s line of wildly successful e-reader products. Available in both black and white, the Paperwhite offers a beautiful 300 pixel-per-inch (PPI) e-ink display that’s clear and easy to decipher. Seniors will take special note of the ability to increase (and decrease) font size to assist while reading and the lack of glare on the display directly in sunlight with the e-ink screen that reads like paper.

At just 7.2 ounces in weight, the Paperwhite is easily held in one hand and its six-inch display is more than large enough to read dozens of words on a page, no matter what font size you select. With a battery life that can last up to six weeks on a single charge and a display light that won’t fatigue your eyes in the dark, the Paperwhite is an outstanding e-reader choice for seniors.

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Newest Generation)

4.5

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.

Best Features: Amazon Fire HD 8

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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. 

Best Splurge: Amazon Kindle Oasis

4

Because Amazon is the de facto leader in the e-reader space, it’s natural for them to also offer the most souped-up version on the market. The new Kindle Oasis is the most premium e-reader offered by Amazon and a great choice for seniors who want a slightly larger screen than the Kindle Paperwhite. The Oasis has a seven-inch E Ink Carta screen that displays text at a crisp 300 pixels-per-inch resolution, and you can count on great readability that won’t hurt your eyes. 

It weighs about half a pound, so it’s definitely light enough to hold for long periods. If you prefer audiobooks, you can also pair Bluetooth headphones with the Oasis and listen to books from Audible, the world’s largest library of audiobooks. At $249 for the base model and $349 for the most expensive version, the Oasis can be a costly purchase. For some, buying a full-fledged tablet like an iPad may make more sense if you think you’d use the expanded set of features. But if you’re in search of the best e-reading experience with a display that reads like real paper, the Oasis will serve you well.

Best Budget: Barnes and Noble Nook 7-Inch Tablet (2018 Edition)

Barnes and Noble Nook

 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.

Best Apple E-Reader: Apple iPad (2018)

Apple iPad

 Apple

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.

Best Waterproof: Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2

If you like to read by the pool or on the beach, the last thing you want to worry about is water damage to your e-reader. Fortunately, the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 is waterproof with an IPX8 rating, meaning it can survive being immersed for up to 60 minutes in two meters of water. On top of the waterproof features, the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 has a 6.8-inch Carta E Ink touchscreen with 265 pixels-per-inch resolution, 8GB of internal storage, and ComfortLight PRO technology that reduces blue-light exposure and helps ease you into sleep when you are reading in bed. We also like this model because it offers TypeGenius, a feature that lets you choose from more than 50 font sizes and 11 font types for a customized reading experience.

Best Big Screen: Onyx BOOX Note S

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.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought four top-rated e-readers for seniors that our reviewers tested for 114 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these e-readers, from their design to their display quality. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in an E-Reader for Seniors

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.

Test Results: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Previous Generation) (Most Popular)

4

What We Like

  • Lightweight

  • Great screen quality

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like

  • Limited storage capacity

  • Awkward to hold

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite parts
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite bottom
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite screen
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite bottom

Our testers recommended the Previous Generation Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for its portability, battery life, screen quality, and overall ease of use. “For people who prefer hard copy books to e-readers, but want something easy for travel, this is the perfect device because it's not too expensive, can hold many books, and can pack up easily for a long plane ride,” one of our reviewers noted. The one big complaint from our testers was its awkward size, which they felt made it difficult to hold comfortably. One of our reviewers also wished it were waterproof and wanted more storage space. Bottom line: “For an e-reader, it's an absolutely fantastic experience (minus the form function),” declared one of our testers.

Test Results: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Newest Generation) (Best Overall)

4.5

What We Like

  • 8 GB of storage

  • Waterproof

  • Modern design

What We Don't Like

  • MOBI format not compatible with local libraries

  • Some glare on screen

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Newest Generation)
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon Kindle (Newest Generation)
Amazon Paperwhite (Newest Generation)
Amazon Kindle

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.

Test Results: Amazon Fire HD 8 (Best Features)

3

What We Like

  • Super durable

  • Excellent price

  • Helpful Alexa voice control

What We Don't Like

  • Tinny audio

  • 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.

Test Results: Amazon Kindle Oasis (Best Splurge)

4

What We Like

  • Large screen size

  • Easy-to-use buttons

  • Comfortable to hold

What We Don't Like

  • Feels flimsy

  • Bad experimental browser

Kindle Oasis
Kindle
Kindle Oasis E-reader
Oasis
Kindle Oasis Tablet
Kindle e-reader
Kindle Tablet

“The Oasis comes with a 7-inch screen compared with the 6-inch screen, which is really nice when you need a bigger font,” revealed one of our reviewers. Our testers also liked how simple it was to use: “It's got a really nice design, which makes it easy to grip, and the buttons make it easy to flip between pages,” one of our reviewers explained. In terms of negatives, our testers were worried it might break because it’s so thin. One of our testers also thought the experimental browser could be improved, especially considering the higher price point. Overall, our reviewers thought the larger screen and helpful buttons were the main draws to this device.