Pick your perfect ebook reader with our guide to the best
Pretty much any device can be an e-reader these days. Downloading an app onto your smartphone or tablet instantly grants it Kindle-like powers, but it can’t do anything about that bright, glaring screen. A true e-reader should have an e-ink screen – one that emits no light itself and is therefore easy on the eye during long reading sessions. If you’re considering an e-reader for the family, you’re probably going to end up going with one of the two main brands – Amazon (with its Kindle) or the WHSmith-backed Kobo. Here’s what to look out for with each.
The Kindle, in its various forms, is the undisputed market leader in the e-reader sector. There are three main models to choose from: Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage.
This entry-level model has a six-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi connectivity. You can get this for as little as £49.99, although you have to accept advertising on the device in exchange for that price. Spending £10 extra gets you a no-ads version. Either way, you’re getting all the core features of an e-reader: an e-ink display that reads like paper, a battery that lasts weeks and weeks, and enough storage to hold thousands of books.
There’s a kids version that comes with a protective cover and two years of accidental damage cover. It’s available in a range of colours, weighs in at £74.99 and is ad-free. You don’t need to choose this model to get some child-friendly features though. All Kindles come with a range of features aimed at younger readers – including WordWise which presents definitions in line with the book’s text to make it easier to take on more challenging reads. £49.99, Amazon
This next model up costs £109.99 (or £119.99 for the no-ads version) – a significant premium on the standard Kindle. One of the main benefits for that extra cost is a high-resolution 300dpi screen with a built-in light. The latter is going to be eye-catching if you do a lot of reading at night, while the former gives text a quality that’s indistinguishable from physical print. Overall build quality is a step-up from entry-level, too – here you get a rubberised matt casing that feels more luxurious in the hand. Should you need it, there’s a (£60 more expensive) model that includes 3G connectivity. £109.99, Amazon
This is Kindle’s top-of-the-range offering. It has all the good stuff the Paperwhite offers and adds to it with features such as a light sensor that automatically adapts the amount of light required on the screen and squeezable side buttons for effortlessly turning page. You’re stepping up a significant way in price here though – £169.99 for the Wi-Fi only model and £229.99 if you need 3G as well. £169.99, Amazon
Kobo has emerged as the key challenger to Amazon. It offers three models, the Aura Black, Aura H2O and the Glo HD.
Kobo Aura Black eReader
The entry-level Kobo offers a six-inch screen with a front light. Battery life is a big selling point, lasting for more than two months with regular use. It weighs just 174g (lighter than the 191g entry-level Kindle) and has a compact body (150 x 114mm) which means you can fit it in a coat pocket easily. The screen and bezel is completely flat, giving it the look and feel of a small tablet (or large mobile phone). A nice touch: there are a variety of fonts you can choose from including one called Dyslexie, designed for those with dyslexia. £79.99, WHSmith
Kobo Glo HD eReader
The step up to Kobo’s mid-range e-reader brings with it a big jump in screen quality. The Glo HD competes directly with the Kindle Paperwhite – both sell for £109.99 – and as with the Paperwhite, the Kobo offers a screen with 300dpi resolution. The result is a screen that is akin to the printed page. In fact, Kobo was there first, prompting Amazon to catch up with its own hi-res screen. The ‘Glo’ in its name refers to the adjustable backlight on the device. As with all Kobo readers, a core benefit is that you can buy from ebooks from all kinds of online stores (and borrow them from local libraries) – unlike the Kindle which is limited to just Amazon’s bookstore. £109.99, WHSmith
Kobo Aura H2O Black eReader
For many people, one of the great joys of reading is being able to enjoy a good book in the bath. That’s always been a bit of an issue with e-readers, for obvious reasons, but it’s not a problem with this Kobo. As its name suggests, the Aura H2O is not averse to a quick dip – its waterproofing will keep it safe from the odd submersion below the bubbles. The other features you’d expect are present and correct. There’s a 6.8-inch high-resolution screen, a two-month battery life and 4GB of storage.£139.99, WHSmith