The 8 Best E-Readers to Buy in 2018

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.4

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite offers a whopping eight-week battery life on normal use and a reading experience that far exceeds that of a tablet. The latest Kindle Paperwhite matches Amazon’s flagship Kindle Voyage at 300ppi. The black and white screen is noticeably crisper than previous iterations, with a more pronounced contrast, and there’s no glare even under direct sunlight. For late-night reads, turn on the four built-in LED lights.

The new system font Bookerly has been designed from the ground up to reduce eyestrain while allowing for faster reading. This is not merely advertising fodder; the font is legitimately crisp, modern and easy to read. The typesetting engine has also received an update, so there are fewer awkward misplaced letters or words that plagued earlier models.

The relatively plain Kindle Paperwhite can’t compete with the more expensive Kindle Voyage’s design. At nearly half a pound, it is a little on the heavy side, and there’s no microSD slot. However, with 4GB of internal storage there’s enough space to store thousands of books.

The Kindle bookstore is arguably the best online bookstore available, with over four million titles on offer. It’s a little slow to navigate on the Paperwhite itself, but you can always browse the store on a laptop and send the e-book wirelessly to your device. The Kindle Paperwhite, at its lowest price point, has the right to show you advertising for unfettered access to the Amazon network via WiFi. While these ads are unobtrusive, they might deter readers in search of a more traditional experience.

Read more reviews of the best Amazon Kindles available to purchase online.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Kindle Oasis

The Kindle Oasis is the best Amazon e-reader you can buy – even though the price is a bit steep. Rest assured, it’s the “Rolls Royce” of e-readers, with an all-new ergonomic design, dedicated buttons for turning pages and a backlight for reading in the dark. The tapered design is .13” at its slimmest, but it still manages to feel extra sturdy. It’s perfectly balanced for one-hand reading the 7” 300ppi display that offers laser-quality text. It also weighs just 4.6 ounces and is the first Kindle to be waterproof (IPX8) in fresh water for up to 60 minutes. Also new: the ability to listen to audiobooks narrated by your favorite A-list celebrities.

Whether it’s black and white comics or lengthy novels, reading on the display feels far closer to reading a physical book than a smartphone display. It’s that sharp and frankly, that good. Battery life will vary with use, but Amazon claims the Oasis can last up to eight weeks on just 30 minutes of reading per day. The 8GB of memory will hold thousands of books with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited monthly rate offers one million titles on-the-go, and there are over two million titles priced at $9.99 or less.

Best for Audiobooks: Amazon Fire HD 8 with Alexa

If you want the best of the eBook and tablet world, it’s going to be hard to beat the Amazon Fire HD 8. With an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll have instant access to millions of Kindle eBooks. Individual Kindle titles cost as little as $2.99 a month, but you can also sign up for Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan for $9.99 a month to read whatever you want for as long as you renew your subscription.

When it comes to reading on the Fire HD 8, Amazon has done its best to create a comfortable screen experience. The tablet has a specialized Blue Shade feature for backlight optimization that allows for a pleasing nighttime reading experience that doesn’t fatigue the eyes. And when you’re tired of reading, you can instantly switch over to listening mode. Just ask Alexa to read aloud and it’ll take over. With dual stereo mode speakers powered by Dolby Atmos, books sound loud and clear.

When you’re done with books altogether, there’s so much more the Fire HD 8 can do. Stream millions of TV shows or movies with Prime Video, Netflix, HBO, or other favorite services. The Amazon app store offers hundreds of thousands of apps including sports, news, games, weather, and productivity for any kind of content you want.

Best Portable: Amazon Kindle Voyage

Amazon Kindle Voyage
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Although it’s the most expensive option on the list, the Kindle Voyage beats most competitors with a slick screen, lightweight design and impressive battery life (it can last for weeks without needing a recharge).

And there’s a huge difference when reading on a standard tablet screen versus reading on a Kindle Voyage. The Kindle Voyage’s 6” display technology uses E-Ink Carta to achieve the page-like quality that doesn’t hurt your eyes in the same way an LED or LCD does. The 300ppi display makes it feel as if you’re reading right off a paper page, with a level of an authenticity that will impress even the most hesitant of print purists.

Weighing 6.3 ounces, the Kindle Voyage is lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite, and its adaptive brightness automatically adjusts to ambient lighting, which is a feature not found on cheaper Kindles. The built-in lighting system also has six bulbs compared to the Paperwhite’s four. Additionally, a feature called Page Press allows you to turn the page without even lifting a finger.

The Kindle Voyage has 4GB of storage to handle your personal book collection. Being able to tap into Amazon’s Kindle store means you can choose from millions of books, and unlike more inexpensive Kindles, there’s no forced advertising.

Best Large Screen: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

Amazon’s Fire 7 is so much more than just an e-reader – it’s also a full-fledged tablet equipped with Alexa. While you might not need all of its bells and whistles, there are plenty of features that make this device attractive to avid readers.

First off, its gorgeous seven-inch, 1024 x 600 IPS display has high contrast, vivid colors and sharp text to make reading for hours on end comfortable and enjoyable. Secondly, it boasts eight hours of battery life, so you won’t need to charge up between chapters. Thirdly, the Fire OS has an exclusive Blue Shade feature that automatically optimizes backlight for a better reading experience in dim lighting. And last but not least, Family Library links your Amazon account to that of your relatives to let you conveniently share books.

If you’re an on-the-go reader who doesn’t hesitate to toss your e-reader in your tote, you’ll also love the fact that the Fire 7 is highly durable. (It was rated as twice as durable than the iPad mini 4, not to mention, it’s cheaper, too!) For $30 more you can upgrade to the eight-inch Fire tablet, which will score you a larger reading screen and four more hours of battery life, but we find this seven-​incher to be a good balance between function and portability.

Best for Kids: Ematic Funtab 3 with WiFi 7" Touchscreen Tablet

Ematic Funtab 3
Courtesy of Walmart.com

For the budding reader on your list, spring for this 7-inch child-friendly tablet. While it comes preloaded with more than 50 apps, including educational games, reading, math, and more, it also runs Android 5.1 OS (Lollipop), so you can download the Kindle app if that’s your preferred platform. It houses a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of system memory and 16GB onboard storage memory, plus additional memory via microSD card slot. All that, and it still weighs less than two pounds. Advanced parental controls let you control what your kid has access to, meanwhile, a durable casing protects from those inevitable bumps and bruises.

Best Waterproof: Kobo Aura H2O Waterproof eReader Black N250-KJ-BK-S-EP

If you’re taking your e-reader to the beach, you’ll need a device that withstands the waves. The Kobo Aura H2) e-reader is waterproof (IP67 compliant) up to depths of one meter for up to 30 minutes. And while we wouldn’t recommend reading underwater, it’ll certainly survive high tides or an unexpected dunk in the bathtub. The touchscreen is 6.8 inches with a respectable resolution of 1430 x 1080 (265 dpi). It also uses Carta E Ink, which is the same used in the Kindle Paperwhite. The device itself is fairly pocketable, measuring 8.7 x 7 x 1.3 inches and weighing just over one pound. In addition to Kindle books, you can also easily download epubs from Google Books, which has the largest free collection of ebooks.

Best for Android Compatibility: Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight Plus

With its crisp 6-inch 300ppi E-ink backlit display, the Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight Plus holds its own against Kindles. It is even slightly smaller and lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite, yet packs in a screen of identical size and resolution. There is 4GB of internal storage, and you can get around six weeks of standard use between charges.

The Glowlight Plus also sets standards in waterproofing, with IP67 certification. You can submerge the Glowlight Plus underwater for up to 30 minutes without issue, so life’s little accidents don’t slow you down while you’re in the middle of your latest read.

The Glowlight reads Epub and PDF files, but doesn’t support Amazon’s Mobi format. While Barnes & Noble’s online store is excellent and arguably better than the Kobo store, it doesn’t quite match up to the Amazon store in terms of usability.

One of the advantages of choosing the Nook Glowlight Plus is that it runs a version of Android (typically 4.4.2). For those who like to have complete control over their devices, it is possible to ‘root’ the Nook Glowlight Plus, allowing you to install custom software. Third party reading apps can be installed, or even other Android apps like Dropbox and Typemail.

While it is an admirable competitor to the Kindle Paperwhite and Voyage, especially in its physical design and screen, the Nook Glowlight Plus doesn’t quite have as responsive a touchscreen and the software is not quite as snappy.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 24 hours testing one of the most popular e-readers available. To really get the full experience, we asked them to consider the most important features when using this e-reader — from its screen type to how durable it is — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in an E-Reader

Screen type - Many e-readers, including Amazon’s Kindles, use a technology called E-Ink Carta to mimic paper and not harm your eyes in the same way an LED or LCD display does. For avid readers, it’s definitely the way to go. If you’ll be reading in short spurts, though, an IPS display (which is common on most tablets) is another option. Just be sure to turn on the Blue Shade feature that optimizes backlight for a better reading experience in dim lighting.

Battery life - In general, e-readers have stellar battery lives. Because the screens take up dramatically less power than smartphones or tablets, they can go days or even weeks without a charge. Some Kindles claim a whopping eight weeks of reading time (on 30 minutes of reading per day), so if you’re forgetful when it comes to charging, you’ll be set.

Durability - Planning to read at the beach? You’ll want an e-reader that can survive high tide. Some devices are designed to be waterproof and rated at IPX8, which means they can swim in depths of up to one meter for up to 60 minutes.

Test Results: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Best Overall)

4.4

What We Like

  • Long battery life

  • Great screen resolution

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Slightly awkward size

Our testers loved this e-reader’s battery life, screen display, touchscreen interactions, store, and Goodreads integration. “All of those make it the best possible Kindle experience,” wrote one reviewer. One downside, according to our testers, was its semi-awkward size. “It's not really necessary to hold it in two hands,” one reviewer said, “but it's also not comfortable to hold in just one.”