Top 5 Best eReaders of 2017 – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Tired of carrying big and thick paperbacks, but also hate the strain on your eyes and ache in your head when reading on a tablet?

Here comes the solution to bookworms’ biggest dilemma: ebook readers.

Best Ebook Readers

Light and handy, these e-readers come to your rescue with thousands of book stored in a few oz’s, while retaining the feeling of a real paper book to your eyes! And a battery that lasts for weeks!

But which ebook reader should you buy?

You’ve come to the right place for the answer. Check out our comparisons between the most popular e-readers, with detailed information on each kind, and why you should (or should not!) buy them.

Top 5 Best Ebook Readers 2017

For a quick overview, this table features the very fundamental differences among the devices. Click on a product name to see the detailed review and find out why it secures a place in our list of the best ereaders 2017.
E-Reader NameBuilt-in LightBest e-reader for
Kindle BasicNoBeginners
Kindle Paperwhite
(Editor’s Choice)
4 LEDs, adjustableBook lovers
Kindle Voyage
(Editor’s Choice)
6 LEDs, auto-adjustProfessional readers
Kindle Oasis10 LEDs, adjustableHigh-end readers
Kobo Aura H2OAdjustable front lightBest Waterproof ereader

1. Kindle Basic – The Most Affordable for Beginners

The Kindle Basic is currently one of the most affordable e-readers on the market. Lightweight and portable, the device also inherits the best features of Amazon’s renown ecosystem and the stable technical quality of the Kindle family.

Pros

  • Light, handy
  • Super affordable price
  • Long lasting battery

Cons

  • No built-in light for reading at night
  • Needs to buy separated charger if you don’t want to charge via computer
  • Not waterproof

Technical features of the Kindle Ereader family
Designed for reading
A partner for the learner
A reminder for the forgetter
4GB and a library
Barrierless for the sightless
A perfect gift for the kids

Feels good on your hand

The basic Kindle is thankfully one of the lightest of its line. At a weight of 5.7 oz (161g) and dimensions of 6.3″ x 4.5″ x 0.36″ (160 mm x 115 mm x 9.1 mm), you can easily hold it with only one hand. In addition, many readers who have sweating hands appreciate the rough plastic casing of this device, which minimizes slips.

Best price, even with a book light

Priced at $79.99 with special offers, and $99.99 without special offers, the Kindle Basic is the cheapest Kindle e-reader. Unlike other models of its line, however, it comes with no built-in lighting. Thus, for reading in a dark surrounding environment, you may need to buy a separate book light. This tops the price up a little, but the total cost is nevertheless the lowest.

No worries about the battery

Kindle users are the freest when it comes to concerns over ereader battery life. Provided that you read on the Basic for 30 minutes a day with wireless off, a single charge of 4 hours will last you for a few weeks.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a compact device for reading on your commute home, or for a light afternoon read in the garden, this is your best bet. At its surprisingly low price, the Kindle Basic is the best e-reader for value.

2. Kindle Paperwhite – 2017’s Best E-Reader to Buy

Per our observation, the Paperwhite is by far the most popular version of all Kindles. This comes as no surprise, since the device appears to make a remarkable upgrade in terms of reading experience for lovers of e-books compared to the basic Kindle.

Pros

  • Adjustable built-in light, easy to read in darkness
  • High resolution, crisper lines
  • Good typography
  • Long lasting battery

Cons

  • Still doesn’t include charger
  • Not waterproof

The Kindle Paperwhite in comparison with the Kindle Basic

 PaperwhiteBasic
DisplayPaperwhite Built-in lightE Ink Pearl (No Built in Light)
Resolution300 ppi*167 ppi*
WeightWi-Fi only: 7.2oz (204g)
Wi-Fi + 3G: 7.6oz (215g)
5.7oz (162g)
Battery life6 weeks (wifi off)4 weeks (wifi off)
Screen6” glare-free touchscreen6” glare-free touchscreen

*ppi stands for pixels per inch. Learn more about ppi in FAQs

300 ppi vs. 167 ppi – what the difference in resolution means

The most noticeable enhancement in the Kindle Paperwhite, as opposed to the Kindle Basic, is its excellent resolution. A higher pixel density translates to much sharper, finer text, and cleaner lines. You can visualize the difference in crispness of the text displayed in the Paperwhite and the Basic as that between a modern magazine and an old textbook. Not that the ‘textbook’ is by any means bad. It’s just that the ‘magazine’ is admittedly much more pleasant to the eyes.

4 built-in LEDs vs. none – reading in the dark

You want to enjoy reading in the quietness and serenity of the dark night, but do not fancy the idea of a separate light? This is when the Basic steps back to give way for the Paperwhite.

The Kindle Paperwhite has Kindle’s much-loved signature glare-free screen for reading in strong light, plus four built-in LEDs.

An important distinguishing feature of the built-in lights is that they shine evenly onto the page instead of your eyes like most smartphone and tablet screens do. This frees the eyes from unnecessary strain, even when you read for long hours. When the lighting environment changes, you can manually adjust your screen brightness – there are 24 levels on the device for your choice.

Another significant plus point for the Kindle Paperwhite is that its lighting minimizes the disturbance to those sharing the same space with you. You know how annoying it is when you’re asleep in a dim or dark room, and out of the blue, a phone screen flashes up! With its pleasant glow, this e-reader ensures you peace of mind to lose yourself in the reading adventures.

An increase of 30% in battery life

With four additional LEDs and a screen of much higher resolution to support, the Paperwhite weighs just over an ounce more than the Kindle Basic. I had thought that it would be inferior when it comes to battery life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Used 30 minutes a day with wireless off, its battery lasts for 6 weeks. That’s 2 weeks, or more than 30% longer than the basic version. Impressed?

Overall, the Kindle Paperwhite retains all of the Basic’s advantages of an Amazon’s ebook reader. It’s made with the same material, same design, and also uses e-ink technology to feel like paper to the eyes. The library is much the same, except that you now have a Wifi plus free 3G version. Open is the choice to download books from where wifi connection is not available.

Nevertheless, it is a total upgrade in terms of screen resolution, lighting, and battery life. All the improvements and it is sold at a price that can’t be any more reasonable. The Wifi-only version costs $119.99, and the Wifi plus free 3G connection $189.99. This is by far the cheapest Kindle with high resolution and adjustable front light.

For a complete set, check the Paperwhite Bundle that Amazon has recently offered, which includes the ereader in an Onyx black cover, and an adapter. You can save dozens of dollars with this bundle, compared to when buying the components separately.

Verdict: If you’re a book lover who reads often in various environment, and wants a screen display that is more pleasant to the eyes, go with the Kindle Paperwhite. There’s a reason it got the best votes on Amazon.

3. Kindle Voyage – Ereader for the Professional

After its release in 2014, the Kindle Voyage was praised by Engadget as the best e-ink reader that Amazon had ever crafted. Today, Amazon sells it at a price equal to that of the Paperwhite plus a Basic. Wondering if the higher price tag translates into significant superiority in quality?

Pros

  • Designed to be held in either hand
  • Better visual effect with high resolution + self-adjusting lighting
  • Modern design with real book feeling
  • Long lasting battery

Cons

  • At higher price range than the Paperwhite
  • Still no charger
  • Not waterproof

Read singlehandedly

The Kindle Voyage is one of the easiest e-readers to be used with one hand. It’s not the smallest nor the lightest, mind you, but its smart functions truly make a difference.

In other models, you have to touch the right side of the screen to page forward and the left side to page back. Even when the buttons are re-introduced on the fancy Oasis, they stay only on one side. You’ll have to flip the device when you want to change your hand.

Meanwhile, the Kindle Voyage comes with a pressure-sensitive line and dot on each side of the screen, which allows paging forward and backward with a subtle press of the thumb. You can set feedback to confirm the turning, which clears worries about accidental multiple flipping.

Kindle Voyage Pagepress

Kindle Voyage Pagepress

As a bed-reader who loves to enjoy books while lying on one side, I particularly appreciate this function of the Kindle Voyage. It minimizes movements on the lower hand, with which I hold the Kindle, and eliminates the need to use my upper hand to turn a page.

Smartest lit Kindle with light sensor

The Voyage is by far the most enhanced version of Kindle in terms of lighting. Not only because it has 6 LEDs, 2 more than the PaperWhite does, but also because it’s the only Kindle equipped with light sensor. Basically, the e-reader takes the burden off your eyes by adjusting itself in accordance with the surrounding environment.

Another cool thing is, some time after you start reading, the front light automatically lowers screen brightness. This matches the way the eye responds to darkness, and saves your eyes from strain. I see it as a very impressive feature of this device.

Magnesium + glass vs. plastic – enhanced classiness

Honestly speaking, the Paperwhite and the Basic do not look like fancy items. The Kindle Voyage, meanwhile, has a durable magnesium back with raised angular edges, and a specially-reinforced glass front. This gives it a sleeker, classier, and more modern appearance compared to the other two. The glass screen, despite looking shiny, has been micro-etched, which means it stays glare-free in the brightest sunlight.

Compared to the Paperwhite, the Kindle Voyage is with no doubts a much more desirable ebook reader. It has a smart design for reading with one hand, flexible lighting options, and sleek and fashionable appearance. Whether those factors are worth a slight surge in the price compared to the Paperwhite, however, is a matter of personal preference.

Verdict: If you’re a professional reader who opts for a higher-end reading experience but doesn’t want to break the bank, the Kindle Voyage is the device we’d recommend.

4. Kindle Oasis – Best High-end Ereader

If you’re shocked at the cost of the Kindle Oasis, you’re not alone.

I had to look twice at the price tag to make sure Amazon is really selling it for $289.99. In their defence, it’s not that expensive for an electronic device, but still… We are all used to Kindles being incredibly cheap, aren’t we?

But I went immediately from “seriously?” to 100% convinced after trying it out on (a friend’s) device. The reading experience this Kindle Oasis offers is of excellent quality. This is an e-reader for the top one-percent customers of Amazon.

Pros

  • Friendly to the hand
  • Bright lit
  • Thin and light
  • Battery lasts for months

Cons

  • The most expensive of all Kindles
  • Not waterproof

The only Kindle with grip – Read with your fingers rest

Have you ever attempted to read with an iPad or an older ebook reading device held in one hand? Unless it perfectly fits in your palm, which is rarely the case, you will most likely agree with me in this: it feels a little awkward.

Fun fact: the thinner the device, the harder it is to hold it with four fingers and move your thumb while reading. This is because our fingers’s natural position is to curl up, as when you’re asleep. They are not happy having to grip a surface while stretching straight over a long period of time.

Hence the emergence of a handgrip on the Oasis. The grip helps shifting the center of gravity to your hand, its thickness allowing your fingers to curve to their natural position. Thanks to this, your hand will be at its comfy resting stage for most of the time. Even a read of several hours won’t tire it out. The grip serves a visual purpose as well – it simulates the spine of a paperback. This is the closest to a real book an electronic device can get.

The only new Kindle with buttons – Feeling classic

Though the touchscreen is a revolution on Kindles, many loyal users can’t help but feeling nostalgic about the buttons on the first generations of the ebook reader line. They miss the feelings of the real physical buttons on the tip of their thumb. They miss the old days when accidental multiple page turn was never an issue.

I don’t know if Amazon had that in mind when they designed the Oasis, but the re-introduction of the buttons on this device is a great move. Only this time, the buttons are longer, more dedicated, and feel better on the thumb.

The only Kindle with a rotating screen – Choose which side you’re keen

You may have noticed from the pictures that the buttons and grip are on only one side of the Kindle Oasis. Wondering what if you’re left-handed or want to use your other hand to hold the e-reader sometimes?

Here comes another distinguishing feature of the Kindle Oasis: an automatically rotating screen. Whenever you flip the device, the book will spin itself to match with the direction your eyes are reading with. This is the only Kindle model that supports the rotation, making it the best to be held in either hand.

The lightest and thinnest of all Kindles

Thanks to its smart design and square-like shape, the Kindle Oasis is by far the lightest and thinnest Kindle on the market. Without cover, it is 28% lighter and 56% thinner than the Voyage. It is designed to feel the closest to a sheet of paper, Amazon says.

10 built-in LEDs – adjust them as you please

When it comes to lighting, the Oasis is brightest and most evenly lit of all Kindles. It has 10 built-in LEDs, 60% more than the Voyage, the version closest to its price range. As bright as it is, it retains Kindle’s magic front-light feature: the lights shine onto the ‘paper’ instead of your eyes.

Users who have had experience with the Voyage, especially those reading in a constantly changing lighting conditions, however, may miss the self-adaptiveness of the screen brightness. We are not sure of the exact reason, but light sensor is not a feature in the Oasis. Nevertheless, you can always adjust the brightness manually. There should be at least a few among the 24 levels to please your eyes.

Charging cover – worry about the battery never

The included leather cover is definitely a bonus point for the Kindle Oasis. In fact, it’s part of the reason why the price tag is so high up. It is a power source itself, which combines with the battery of the device to top the using time up to months.

Even if you don’t fancy the cover, you can always take it off and the naked device can still last for weeks. That is thanks to the newly-introduced hibernation mode, which puts the slim ebook reader to a nap to save energy when inactive. For this feature, the Oasis the smartest device when it comes to battery.

To sum it up, the Kindle Oasis is the best ereader available on the market. It has a traditional Kindle’s best features – a lightweight device made thoroughly for reading, an eye-friendly glareless screen, a space for thousands of books. Yet, its game-changer features bring ebook readers to a whole new level. It feels so close to a paperback, takes so long to discharge, and looks so smart in your hand, reading has never felt classier.

Verdict: The Kindle Oasis is made for people who seek a first class reading experience. If money is not that big of a concern to you, totally go for it.

5. Kobo Aura H2O – Best Waterproof Ereader

Since its launch in 2014, the Kobo Aura H2O has been attracting great attention from ereader fans. A waterproof ereader, finally! Currently priced at $179.99, it is at the same range as the Kindle Voyage. However, the two are like apples and oranges when put into comparison.

Pros

  • Waterproof + dustproof
  • Bigger screen
  • Battery lasts for months
  • Micro SD card reader

Cons

  • Ecosystem not as smooth as Kindle’s
  • Heavy weight
  • Simple design – not as classy as Kindle Voyage or Oasis

Waterproof – read in your bathtub

As its name suggests, the Kobo Aura H2O is water resistant. Particularly, it can stay in 1 cubic meter of water for 30 minutes without getting damaged. Thanks to this, you can now treat yourself with an adventure into the world of words at the comfort of a hot bath. As the device is also dust-proof, a read at a fine sand beach has never been so worry-free.

If broadening your child’s horizon of knowledge and imagination is a priority of yours, I’d promote the Aura H2O to keep your assistance. You can now let your kids enjoy their ebooks independently; no more concern over a breakdown when there’s an accidental milk spill or a drop into the sandpit. A wipe with the included drying cloth, and the device works like new.

6.8’’ – when size does matter

Many book lovers fancy the Kobo Aura H2O for its screen size. In fact, it’s just slightly bigger than the Kindle, a difference of 0.8 inch in particular. Yet the small increase in width and length makes it look closer to an actual paperback. Also, if you happen to have long fingers or a broad palm, it feels more natural and comfortable to hold a bigger item in your hand.

Due to its larger screen, the Aura H2O belongs to a higher spectrum of weight. It’s 8.2 ounces or 233g, 13% heavier than the Voyage, the Kindle of the same price range.

Like its Kindle counterparts, the Kobo Aura has a glare-free screen for reading in strong sunlight. It also has adjustable built-in light for reading in dim or dark environment. Similar to what we experience on a Kindle, the Aura light shines evenly onto the page. This allows your eyes to read for a longer time without any strain.

With regards to display, the feature of ClarityScreen+ enhances definition, making the text cleaner and crisper on your screen. Compared to its Kindle counterpart, however, the Aura H2O is inferior in terms of resolution. Its supported number of pixels per inch is 265, while that of any Kindle other than the Basic is 300.

Read 14 text formats, read from your micro SD card

Despite having an on-board memory of 4GB with the ability to hold thousands of books, the Aura still comes with a micro SD card reader. No Kindle does! This allows more freedom and flexibility in terms of book transfer and exchange. As the device supports a wide variety of text formats, you will never have to worry about the readability of your files.

Customize to please your eyes

One of the factors that make the Aura H2O a desirable reader is its customizability. Depending on what looks the most pleasant to your eyes, you can choose among 11 different font types, and 24 font sizes. This is a feature paperbacks can never offer, and even on Kindle, the range of choices has never been so broad!

Charge once, use for months

Kobo has amazing batteries and that’s beyond debate. Depending on individual usage, the Aura H2O can last for up to 2 months after a single charge. Never worry about your device running out of battery on the way!

Let’s take a look at a rough comparison: the Kobo Aura H2O vs. the Kindle Voyage

 Kobo Aura H2OKindle Voyage
Starting price$179.99Wifi only: $199.99
Wifi + free 3G: $289.99
Screen6.8” Carta E Ink touchscreen6” Carta E Ink touchscreen
Resolution265 ppi300 ppi
Page turnTouching the screenForce sensors + haptics
Built-in lightingManually adjustableAuto adjust
WaterproofYesNo
MicroSD ReaderYesNo
Battery life8 weeks6 weeks
Weight8.2oz (233g)Wifi only: 6.3oz (180g)
Wifi + free 3G: 6.6oz (188g)

Basically, at the same price range, the Aura H2O has the same glareless, e-ink touch screen, except that it’s bigger in size and heavier in weight. While the Kobo ebook reader has slightly lower screen resolution and doesn’t have adaptive light sensor, it is the only waterproof ereader, and offers the option of using an SD card for additional book source.

The only significant winning points for the Voyage over this device are its PagePress feature, and Amazon’s rich and smooth ecosystem. Then again it really depends on what is the most important to the user, because with the Aura turning pages takes only a touch, and it’s almost as easy to download enough books to read for the rest of your life.

VerdictObviously enough, buy the Kobo Aura H2O if you want a waterproof e-reader, or simply want to read on a high quality device that is not Kindle.

FAQs

Most modern e-readers are made with e-ink. E-ink is a paper-like display technology that saves your eyes from strain, and at the same time minimizes the use of the battery.

An e-ink screen is bistable, which means it keeps an image even when power is off. Such screen uses power only when something is changing, such as when you’re turning pages. This technology also allows light to be reflected from the screen back to your eyes, like normal paper does. Meanwhile, an LCD screen uses a backlight, which emits light directly to your eyes and strain them. This is why you need a separate reader, and not a phone or tablet to read your ebooks.

Thanks to the screen being bistable reflectivity, it works on very little energy. This is the reason your Kindle lasts for weeks if not months on a single charge.

e-inkHowever, a not-so-welcomed feature of the e-ink technology is that flashes appear when turning page. In particular, there will be a “ghosting” image of the old page on the new one. This flashing has significantly improved in the new versions, but if you’re new to e-Ink, you may find it somewhat annoying at first. Keep in mind, though, that your eyes and brain will get used to it after a while and the flashes will be barely noticeable at all.

Electronic ink is a complex technology, and you can learn more about here on Wikipedia.

With the Kindle Basic being the only exception, all Kindles comes in two versions: Wi-Fi only, and Wi-Fi plus 3G connection. The 3G connection allows you to download books from places where Wi-Fi is not available.

Models with 3G always cost more: it’s an additional $70 for the Paperwhite, the Voyage, and the Oasis.

The cool thing is, although the version with 3G is more expensive, you only pay for it once. No monthly fees or commitments needed, Amazon will pay the connection fee when you download books.

The 3G connection is built in Kindles with the idea that a Wi-Fi hotspot connection is not always available, especially remote places like on a mountain or at a beach far away from the busy city.

This feature is of great usefulness for travellers, and for readers who spend a lot of time in places without Wi-Fi connection. It makes sure you can still enjoy your favorite books on your way trotting the globe.

If you spend most of your time where there is high-speed wireless connection, however, you should be fine with a a Wi-Fi Kindle. You can always download and store the books you want in the Kindle to read later.

PPI is a term used very often to describe the screen resolution of e-readers and other electronic devices such as computer monitors, smart phones, or cameras. Sometimes, the term “dots per inch” is used instead.

PPI stands for “pixels per inch”, or the number of illuminated points on a display screen. The higher the ppi number is, the higher the pixel density should be. Generally, on two e-reader screens of the same size, the one with greater ppi will produce crisper text, sharper images, and clearer lines, and is thus considered better. However, most human eyes cannot tell the difference when the resolution is higher than 300 ppi. Therefore, producers of ereaders rarely make screens with more than 300 ppi.

But how much ppi should an ereader screen have for the ebooks to be readable? About 150. Newspapers usually have a resolution of 170 ppi. At a normal reading distance, human eyes can recognize images, words and letters printed on a newspaper with no difficulty. As e-readers are usually viewed from the same distance, a screen resolution of about 150 to 300 ppi should be efficient.

For more information on ppi and how it is calculated, visit Wikipedia.

Special Offers are sponsored ads, product recommendations and deals that appear on your screen when you are not using the device. Kindles free from those ads cost slightly more than the ones with special offers.

Not likely. As mentioned earlier, the ads will show only as screensavers when the device is in sleep mode, and won’t show during your read.

Personally, I wouldn’t pay an additional $20 to opt out of something that doesn’t affect my reading. In fact, I like to look at the ads sometimes to see if there’s a chance I can buy books at cheaper prices than normal, or if there are discounts for the latest music shows.

Then again it’s a matter of personal preference, and if you really don’t like any ads on your device, $20 is not too high of a price to get rid of them.

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