The 7 Best E-Readers to Buy in 2016

Shop for the top e-readers from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo

E-readers offer a number of advantages over reading e-books on a tablet or phone. First, they have screens designed for extended reading that resist the glare of sunlight and therefore cause less eyestrain. Secondly, since they don’t have a lot of the superfluous bells and whistles of a tablet, they are typically much lighter, cheaper and have a much longer battery life (typically lasting weeks). So for the best e-book reading experience today, we’ve compiled a list of the top seven e-readers you can buy in 2016.

1
Best Overall: Kindle Oasis

Amazon Kindle Oasis
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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 6” 300ppi display that offers laser-quality text. It’s also weighs just 4.6 ounces.

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 8 weeks on just 30 minutes of reading per day. The 4GB 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.

2
Best for Versatility: Kobo Glo HD

Kobo Glo HD
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Kobo Glo HD has an excellent 6” screen capable of outputting 300ppi, and even manages to squeeze a few more pixels in (1448 x 1072 screen resolution) than the Amazon's Kindle Voyage. It offers the 4GB of storage space (up to 3,000 books), weighs 12.6 ounces and has a battery life lasting around two months.

Kobo is smart to point out how there’s no advertising on the Kobo Glo HD, unlike the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, which requires the user to occasionally see advertisements. Fourteen file formats are supported, including PDFs, Amazon’s Mobi format and the more open Epub format that isn’t supported on Kindles. The Kobo Glo HD also includes a web browser, and you can even use the Pocket app to read Internet articles on your e-reader.

Kobo’s online marketplace may not be as well presented and easy to navigate as Amazon’s Kindle Store, but it now contains roughly the same number of e-books (and at comparable prices).

The Kobo Glo HD features a pleasant perforated silicon backside that gives the e-reader a little grip, and the design includes a raised bevel that isn’t quite as smooth to hold as the flat-screened Voyage. Also something to consider: It’s not waterproof.

3
Best Budget: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

4
Best Large Screen: Kobo Aura One

Kobo Aura One
Courtesy of Kobobooks.com

Kobo’s new Aura One is a sleek, premium e-reader with a 7.8-inch, 300ppi display (the company's largest). Fortunately, the larger size doesn’t add any additional bulk, as it weighs just 8.1 ounces and is 6.9mm thin. The addition of IPX8 standards allows water resistance in up to two meters of water, so don't be afraid to read while taking a bath.

While Amazon’s Kindle Oasis (the One’s closest competitor) offers hardware page-turn buttons, the One only requires a swipe or a tap on the display. An on-board light sensor allows for dynamically shifting screen brightness based on your surroundings. Additionally, the One will skew its lighting for warmer tones in the evening, which will help your eyes during those late night reading sessions. To make your reading experience even more pleasant, Kobo included 11 different font types and more than 50 different font sizes.

Battery life will last up to 30 days and, with on-board Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), transferring books is a snap. In the same thought, the One supports 14 different file formats with its 8GB of on-board memory, which is capable of holding close to 6,000 books. Plus, Kobo’s existing eBookstore has more than five million titles, so you don't have to which eliminates rely on Amazon’s own eBookstore.

5
Best for Android Compatibility: Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight Plus

Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight Plus
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

6
Runner-Up, Best Overall: 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.

7
Runner-Up, Best Large Screen: Kobo Aura H20

Kobo Aura H20
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Kobo Aura H2O is an e-reader that is known for its waterproof (IP67 certified) and dustproof design. The no-glare, 6.8" screen reads like regular printed paper (thanks to ClarityScreen+), even when the sun shines directly on it. The resolution is, however, slightly poorer than competitors (265ppi to their 300ppi), but the difference is negligible.

With the Kobo Aura H20’s ComfortLight, light is steered away from your eyes and directed onto the screen. If your eyes start to get tired with the font, feel free to choose from 24 font size options. Also, highlight passages or make notes so you don't miss anything. Don’t know what a word means? That's OK; simply click on the word and it will be defined.

The Aura H2O has the same 4GB of storage space of the other offerings on this list, and it supports an impressive fourteen file formats including Epub, PDF, Mobi and CBZ. It also offers the longest battery life (up to two months of normal use without requiring a charge).

But the Kobo online store is a downside. Although the range of titles is now comparable to the Kindle Store, the interface feels messy and it can take some time to find the books you really want to read.

The Kobo Aura H20’s market price sits between the more expensive Kindle Voyage and the much cheaper Kindle Paperwhite. The main reasons you may choose the Kobo are to get away from Amazon’s rather restrictive digital rights management, the waterproofing, the better support for more file types and the larger screen.

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