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Choosing the right ebook reader for your family

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. 


Amazon Kindle PaperwhiteThe 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

Kindle Paperwhite

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

Kindle Voyage

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 Glo HDKobo 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

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