Ebook reader comparison
Take thousands of books with you wherever you go in a device smaller than a paperback with one of these ereaders.
What is an ebook reader?
An ebook reader, or ereader, is a digital device designed for reading books on the go in a device significantly smaller than your typical novel. An ereader tries to be user-friendly, compact, light and long-lasting in order to provide the best book reading experience possible.
These devices usually come with a six- to seven-inch screen in a plastic shell with a plastic screen, though the most premium options come finished in materials like glass and aluminium.
Many ereaders can be treated like a smartphone and only require a cable for charging. You can purchase and download books directly on the device and some Amazon models include free 3G connectivity, giving you access to Amazon's full book library on the go.Back to top
What can ereaders do?
As indicated in the name, ereaders are for reading books electronically, but they can do more than that. Thanks to the vast inventory of resources behind them at large multinational conglomerates like Rakuten and Amazon, these ereaders come filled with helpful additions to make an ereader your one-stop shop for all things books. With an ereader, you can do the following:
- Get books in seconds
- Access the web
- Get definitions for words
- Read in or around water
- Comfortably read at night
- Have thousands of books on you at a time
- Read with one hand
- Make notes on a book
- Adjust the size of the text
- Know how long you've got to go in a chapter
- Translate sections of a book
- Simply browse footnotes
- Easily read books in the public domain
- Organise all of your ebooks
- Read documents on the go
- Borrow from a library
The upgrade cycle for ebook readers is vastly different to that of smartphones, which usually get a refresh each year, so you won't have to worry about grabbing the latest-and-greatest as soon as it's released. Due to the online nature of these devices, updates can be pushed out to make new features available.Back to top
What are the options?
The ereader market is rather dry at the moment. There aren't many options available and it's almost exclusively an Amazon and Kobo affair. These two players control over two-thirds of the market in Australia, according to Author Earnings in a 2017 report.
Amazon's Kindle line-up of ereaders is the face of the ebook market. In Australia, Amazon offers three models of the Kindle, but they have an extra, the Voyage, in the US and other select markets.
Amazon also has a fully-fledged Kindle app for Android, iOS, PC and Mac, where you can browse through the collection you already have, purchase new books and even pick up from where you left off on your Kindle with Amazon Whispersync.
Kobo, owned by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten, has several ebook readers on the market that directly compete with Amazon's offerings. Similarly to Amazon, Kobo has three models available in Australia and another available in Canada and other countries.
Kobo's app is available on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Store, PC and Mac and allows you to continue reading your favourite Kobo books. Similarly to the Kindle app, you can buy, browse and customise your ebook experience right from the app.Back to top
What ereader is best for you?
Choosing an ereader can be tough, but what it comes down to is what option offers the best bang for your buck, and which ones pack the features you'll use. Design, materials, features and more all make a difference to what ereader is best suited to you.
A simple summary might help you decide which is best for you, so take a glance at the comparison below:
(include the good the bad table for all 9 options)
How to compare Ebook readers:
It's important to look at more than just price when comparing ebook readers as the features you're looking for might not come with the cheapest model.
There are a few key things you'll need to consider before making a choice on what to buy.
Is beach-reading on the cards?
If you fancy reading a book on the beach or beside the pool, you might be interested in picking up a reader that can handle a bit of water.
The IP, or Ingress Protection, rating can be found on select Amazon and Kobo ereaders. The most common type of water resistance on ebook readers is IPX8, indicating that the devices can be fully submerged in water.
Be careful, though. Manufacturers set the conditions under which their ebook readers are "resistant", and they may not cover water damage under warranty. Both Kobo and Amazon's water resistance claims are for fresh water only.
Stuck with a small baggage allowance?
If you're without your ereader, you'll still be able to breeze through your favourite novel wherever you are.
Both Amazon and Kobo have mobile and web-based applications, allowing users to download and read while on the go. Amazon's Whispersync remembers where you were in a book and lets you pick up where you left off on another device as long as you're connected to the Internet.
Planning on reading for hours at a time?
Lighting can play an important role in how long it is comfortable to read for. Ereaders typically use front lighting. Different from the backlight found in LCD panels powering the screens of iPhones, TVs and more, front lighting illuminates the screen on an ebook reader without directly shining light towards your eyes. This method of screen illumination makes for a more comfortable and natural reading experience while reducing strain on the eyes.
Looking to read more than just store content?
The type of file supported by each ebook reader varies slightly, so if you're really intent on reading the latest AZW file-type book, you will need to choose wisely. One of the most popular file types, EPUB, isn't supported by Kindle. Amazon also has its own highly-popular file type, AZW, which you won't be able to find on Kobo.
Are you an avid reader?
While it might not sound like much, four gigabytes of storage space on an E-Book reader might be plenty for the average reader. According to Kobo, you'd be able to squeeze up to 3000 books into that measly capacity. If you're a self-described bookworm, either 8 or 32 gigabytes of storage will allow you to cram quite a few more pages in.
Away from power frequently?
If you're short on power or travelling through remote communities frequently, choosing a reader with good battery life is a must. Each model will vary to some degree in how long it can last, but Amazon claims up to six weeks of battery life on the Paperwhite and Oasis and four weeks on the Kindle. Kobo is a bit more vague with their battery life estimates, saying that their devices "last for weeks".
Prefer compact or big screen viewing?
There is quite a lot of variation in screen size across the relatively small ebook reader market, with four different sizes across the nine compared models. What screen size is best is entirely subjective, so choose whatever is best for you.
Fancy a high-quality display?
While the number of pixels crammed into a smartphone screen or laptop might be all the rage these days, it also makes a difference in the experience you'll have with your ebook reader. The more premium ebook readers on the market today feature displays with 300 pixels per inch, strikingly similar to the iPhone 8, which sports 326 PPI. Many ereader displays are made of plastic, too, with the Amazon Oasis's glass screen being the exception.
Are you a fan of cutting the cord?
All of the ebook readers we currently compare include Wi-Fi. Wireless access on the ereaders allows you to download and buy books without having to connect your devices to a computer. On top of that, you can access the Internet through these devices, too.
Do you travel frequently?
Some of Amazon's ebook readers come with free, built-in 3G connectivity. This means that you'll be able to purchase and download new books on the go, both at home and abroad. Amazon's coverage map shows you where you're able to connect to the net from around the world. As well as accessing Amazon, you're free to browse through Wikipedia.
Thinking about reading in multiple languages?
Not all ebook readers will support the same languages, and some will only support the recognition of different characters.
Amazon Kindle devices can be configured in English, Brazilian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish, whereas Kobo supports English, Brazilian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.
Kindle also includes support for non-Latin characters on their device, allowing users to read documents in a variety of languages and scripts.
Extra things to look out for:
Some features available in international markets might not work in every country, so carefully check the product description and reviews before purchasing.Back to top
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