Whether your home is cluttered with too many books or you just want to digitize your library to take with you on vacation, now is a good time to invest in an e-reader for your home and on-the-go reading. The displays are optimized for reading and you get an even more immersive reading experience without the distractions of messages, games and videos. We tested nine e-reader models in the last month and these two stood out from the rest:
Best e-reader overall
With access to the extensive Amazon library, a display that is adjustable so that you can read without fatigue in almost any lighting condition, user-friendly controls and a comfortable design, the Kindle Oasis is the best e-reader we have tested.
Best budget e-reader
The Kindle Paperwhite gives you most of what the Oasis has to offer, with a smaller, simpler, yet very readable display at an affordable price.
Simply put, the Kindle Oasis is a dream to read on. We kept coming back to this in our tests because it feels comfortable in the hand, well-placed page turning keys, and multiple brightness and color temperature settings that we can easily read in different settings. Thanks to the 1-inch thick bezel from Oasis, your hand has a place to rest and doesn’t accidentally brush against the touchscreen – a problem we had with other e-readers we tested. Its square design is also comfortable enough to hold with one hand for hours. (Seriously, our hand was never tired of holding this thing.)
While you technically don’t need an Amazon account to use the Kindle Oasis, you probably want to register to have access to the millions of Kindle books available in the Kindle library. When setting up the e-reader, you’ll be asked to sign in with your Amazon account, if you have one, and connect to the WiFi, which can all be done in just about a minute. From there you can then search for books directly on the device itself. Amazon Prime subscribers have access to Prime Reading, which includes around 1,000 free titles that change regularly. Or you can sign up for Kindle Unlimited ($ 9.99 per month), a separate subscription that gives you access to over a million books and audiobooks. If you are not an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can still purchase books individually from the Kindle Store. We were able to easily find any book we were looking for, even brand new releases on the release date.
Kindle readers don’t directly support Overdrive, a free service that lets you borrow books using your library card. However, you can easily check out e-books and read them on Kindle using Overdrive on your computer or the Overdrive app on your tablet or phone – just follow these instructions. We had no problems checking out and returning books after setting up an overdrive account with our library card. You can also read MOBI files and PDFs on your Kindle by emailing them to the device itself, and EPUB files by converting them to MOBI files with free online software. The Kobo readers let you check out books directly through Overdrive, which makes them a great choice if that’s your primary interest in an e-reader (although we prefer the Kindles enough that we generally think it’s the slight inconvenience worth borrowing from another device). .
One of our favorite features of the Oasis is the heat brightness adjustment, a feature not found on the other Kindles we tested. Not only were we able to adjust the display brightness, but we were also able to adjust the color temperature of the light to filter out blue light that could negatively affect your eyes at night. It may seem like a little addition, but it helped our eyes a lot to adjust to the light. Reading in bed while a partner is trying to sleep is also a great way not to disturb them.
The Oasis’ 7-inch E Ink Carta screen is both waterproof and anti-glare. We took the e-reader out in the sun, on the train and by the pool and had no problems reading the text on the screen. We even dipped it in the pool and took it out in the rain with no problem. There are also tons of ways to customize your reading experience on the Oasis, including 14 font size settings, five bold settings, nine fonts (including one to support dyslexia), two orientations, three margin settings, two orientation settings, and three spacing settings, not to mention that Ability to highlight favorite passages and link your Goodreads account.
Since the Oasis has Bluetooth connectivity, you can also pair wireless headphones with the device and use them to listen to audiobooks. It only took us seconds to connect our pair of Pixel Buds to the Oasis and listen.
After all, the Oasis battery charges from 0% to 100% in just one hour and lasts an estimated 50 hours at a brightness of 12 and flight mode on. That’s the best battery life of all the e-readers we tested, and should last regular readers for weeks, even if they read for an hour every night.
Daniel Toy / CNN
The Kindle Paperwhite is a great e-reader that is suitable for all budgets. It has the same accessibility features, waterproofness, and touchscreen capabilities as our top picks, but it lacks the Oasis page turning buttons and it has a slightly smaller 6-inch E Ink Carta screen. It is an extremely portable device that sets itself apart from the competition with its extensive library, comfort in the hand, and ideal screen size. It also felt better made and more comfortable than the more plastic Kobos. It charged from 0% to 100% in two hours and lasted for weeks in our tests.
We spent hours reading a variety of books on each e-reader over the course of a month, paying attention to specifics like water resistance in addition to accessibility features, easy user interface navigation, overall design, screen size, library support and battery. Below are the criteria we used to evaluate every e-reader:
Platform / library support: We have noted the library size of each e-reader as well as the file formats that can be read on it and how easily those file formats can be transferred.
Screen: We looked at the overall quality and responsiveness of each e-reader’s screen, using touch controls to buy books, navigate the user interface, and turn pages. Is it shiny and smooth or dull and scratchy? We also tested glare by taking every e-reader outside in the sun.
Software / user interface / performance: We noticed how intuitive the user interface is and what accessibility features are built in.
Design: How convenient is the design of each e-reader? Does it lie lightly and comfortably in the hand for a long period of time? Does it feel sturdy or is it plastic-like and cheap?
Battery: We used a 5 watt USB power adapter and the cable that came with each e-reader to charge each device, and monitored how long it took each e-reader to charge from 0% to 100%. We then read for an hour per night on each device with a brightness of 12 and activated flight mode and note the percentage drop in the battery over time.
Warranty: We looked at how long the included warranty lasts for each device and what it covers. Every e-reader we tested came with a one-year warranty, which resulted in a nine-way tie in this category.
Kindle ($ 89.99; amazon.com)
The original Kindle e-reader is a decent device, but we noticed slower buffer times, lower battery life, and blurry cover art during testing. We’d suggest jumping in the Paperwhite for our budget picks, as it’s waterproof (which the Kindle lacks) and better resolution.
Kindle Children ($ 109.99; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for an e-reader for younger bookworms, you’ve come to the right place with the Kindle Kids Edition. It has an easy-to-use interface and a wide variety of parental control settings so you can make sure that your kid or kids don’t get into anything they shouldn’t. It also comes with a colorful case to protect the device. Note, however, that this e-reader is not waterproof. So if you have a particularly messy child, it could break if not properly cared for.
Kobo Forma ($ 249.99; walmart.com)
The Kobo Forma is similar in design to the Kindle Oasis, with two page-turning buttons on a bezel and a large screen. However, the buttons feel cheap and difficult to press, while the 8-inch screen is almost too big to read comfortably. It’s also 0.3 ounces heavier than the Oasis, which doesn’t seem like much, but when combined with the larger size, it makes it a little less comfortable for long periods of time.
Kobo Scale H2O ($ 169.96; walmart.com)
Kobo scale H2O
The Kobo Libra H2O is our pick for the most popular Kobo reader. So if you are looking for a device that specifically locates and borrows books from the library via overdrive, this may be the e-reader for you. Its design is reminiscent of the above format, but its 7-inch screen is better for reading. Plus, as the name suggests, it’s completely waterproof; However, the Kobo Libra H2O lost points due to its plastic feel and difficult-to-press page-turning keys that aren’t as comfortable as those on the Oasis.
Kobo Clara HD ($ 115.21; walmart.com)
Kobo Clara HD
We really liked the crisp HD screen on the Kobo Clara HD, which looks great both indoors and out. We also appreciate the various brightness settings that you can use to filter out blue light and bring in what is known as “natural light”. Overall, however, we preferred the Kindle Paperwhite for its convenience, ease of use, and battery.
Kobo Nia ($ 99.99; walmart.com)
The Kobo Nia is a no-frills e-reader that is similar to the original Kindle. It has a 6-inch screen that feels a bit small, and its battery life was weaker than the competition. We chose the Kobo Clara HD’s screen over a Kindle device for those interested in a Kobo.
Nook GlowLight 3 ($ 119.99; barnesandnoble.com)
Barnes and Noble
Nook light bulb 3
The Nook GlowLight 3 was the least popular e-reader we tested, with a cheap design and extremely slow response speeds. Page buffering alone made this a frustrating e-reader, and we found the Kindle and Kobo libraries cheaper and more robust than what Barnes & Noble did.
Read more about CNN Underscored’s hands-on tests: