Australian consumers have chosen Kobo as the top eBook reader brand. The Canadian eReader received not only the highest overall score but the highest score across all brands for value for money, readability, ease of use and how easy the devices are to hold. 91% of Kobo users recommend the brand.
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.
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
It is important to note, though, that not all ebook readers come with all the above features, and some brands don't even have full consistency on features.
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.
Types of ereaders
There are two main options for ereaders in Australia are from Amazon and Kobo.
In Australia, Amazon offers several 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 several 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.
How to compare ereaders
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.
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.
If you like to read on the beach or beside the pool, look for an ereader that can handle a bit of water. 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 freshwater only.
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. Some ereaders can also adjust the amount of blue light for more comfortable night reading.
Supported file types
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.
While it might not sound like much, four gigabytes of storage space on an E-Book reader might be plenty for the average reader, allowing you to store around 3000 books. 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.
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, with some claiming to last up to six weeks or more.
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.
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.
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.
Not all ebook readers will support the same languages, and some will only support the recognition of different characters. If you want to read in a language other than English, make sure to check if it's supported by the device before you buy it.
Some features available in international markets might not work in every country, so carefully check the product description and reviews before purchasing.
Jack Baker is a regular contributor at Finder, covering a wide range of technology and gaming issues. He's especially keen on PC gaming hardware and peripherals and Android phones, and he's always hunting down the best deals.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
Important information about this website
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of banks, insurers and product issuers. We value our editorial independence and follow editorial guidelines.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product or service.
Please note that the information published on our site should not be construed as personal advice and does not consider your personal needs and circumstances. While our site will provide you with factual information and general advice to help you make better decisions, it isn't a substitute for professional advice. You should consider whether the products or services featured on our site are appropriate for your needs. If you're unsure about anything, seek professional advice before you apply for any product or commit to any plan.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or 'Advertisement' are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment when you click on those buttons or apply for a product. You can learn more about how we make money here.
When products are grouped in a table or list, the order in which they are initially sorted may be influenced by a range of factors including price, fees and discounts; commercial partnerships; product features; and brand popularity. We provide tools so you can sort and filter these lists to highlight features that matter to you.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad-based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan, we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.