E-Reader vs. Tablet: Which One Should You Buy?

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E-reader vs. tablet, which one should you buy? Keep on reading to find out which one is better.

An e-book reader, known simply as an e-reader, looks pretty similar to a tablet to the untrained eye. But in reality, these two devices are quite different from one another. One thing they do have in common, though, is their ability to store e-books.

Even many traditionalists who love reading print on paper books are opting for e-books when they travel or head out on vacation. It’s so much easier to carry all of your reading material on a thin portable device than to load up your suitcase with tons of heavy paperbacks.

Some people also struggle to hold up heavy books and love the ease of reading on a lightweight device.

But while both e-readers and tablets let you read e-books to your heart’s content, they have a few key differences. Which device you decide to buy will depend on what you plan to use it for. 

E-reader vs. Tablet

To help you make the right decision and avoid buyer’s remorse, I’ve put together this guide on e-readers vs. tablets. I’ll examine the pros and cons of each and share a few things to consider before you make a purchase.

So, let the battle of e-reader vs. tablet commence!


A standard e-reader is designed with one primary purpose in mind, to download and display e-books. 

E-readers have a non-glare screen that has a matt, paper-like finish. This is especially helpful when you’re in bright sunlight, so if you like reading by the pool or at the beach, then this could be the device for you. Many of the higher-end e-readers on the market today are also waterproof, so there’s no need to worry about getting it wet. You can even read in the bath!

To ‘turn the page’ you simply swipe across or tap the screen. Some e-readers have a home button too, which takes you to the main menu. 

If you struggle reading small print, you also have the option to adjust the size of the font. Many e-readers also let you switch between font styles too. 

One clever feature on many e-readers is the one-tap definition finder. If you’re faced with an unfamiliar word, simply tap it, and the definition will appear. And depending on the e-reader you choose, you can often make annotations too. This makes them a popular choice for reading textbooks and other study material.

And for those that love listening to narrated books, many e-readers support audiobooks too.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

Read Review: Kindle Paperwhite: Best Kindle Ebook Reader to Buy

Our top choice for the best e-reader goes to the Kindle Paperwhite. We also posted an in-depth tutorial on how to use Kindle Paperwhite

The Pros and Cons of E-Readers


The matt finish on the E-reader’s screen reduces glare from the sun or other light sources, making it easier to read. On the other hand, most tablets are backlit and have a glass-like finish, making reading in bright light more difficult and putting strain on the eyes.

Most E-readers tend to be lighter and more compact than standard tablets. They’re more comfortable for tired wrists and can slip into your handbag or even your pocket.

E-readers tend to have super impressive battery life. Even with heavy use, a lot of e-readers only need to be charged up around once a month, and sometimes even less often than that.

Most e-readers come in at a much lower price than the average tablet. Nowadays, you can pick up a standard Kindle or similar device for less than $150. Of course, some e-readers are considerably pricier than this, but they also have tons of extra bells and whistles.

  • No Distractions

Since most e-readers are designed primarily just for reading, there are fewer distractions to pull you away from a good book. If, like me, you promised yourself you’d read more books this year, but you’re constantly distracted by social media or news, then having a dedicated e-reader can help keep you focused and less likely to fall back into bad habits. 

Read our e-reader reviews:


  • Smaller Screen

A lot of people prefer reading on a larger screen. While there are a few larger e-readers on the market today, most of these devices have a maximum screen size of about 7 inches. Tablets, on the other hand, can be as large as 12 inches across.

  • Black and White Screen

Most e-readers still have a black and white screen. While this works great for regular books and newspapers, you might be better off with a tablet if you like to read magazines or books with illustrations. That being said, some great color e-readers are making their way onto the market right now; they just tend to be pricier than the standard models.

  • Fewer Functions

Most e-readers lack the power and functionality of a tablet. If you only want to use your device for reading and nothing else, then an e-reader is a solid choice. But if you’d like an all in one tool that lets you surf the internet, watch videos, store and take pictures, and download apps, then a tablet will be better suited to your needs.


Tablets, such as the hugely popular Apple iPad, are touch screen devices that are designed to do all kinds of things. Sure, you can download and view e-books to your heart’s content, but you can also browse the web, listen to music, watch videos, check your emails, have a conference call, play games, and so much more.

While some tablets come with a detachable keyboard, most tablets operate solely as a touch screen device. You can swipe, tap, and pinch the screen to navigate your way around a web page or e-book. 

Unlike e-readers, all tablets have a glossy color screen to make them suitable for all their different functions. They also come with one, if not two, cameras, so you can take photos and even record videos.

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The Pros and Cons of Tablets


Tablets are basically a small computer that uses a touchscreen instead of a keyboard and a mouse. You can use it for pretty much anything you would use a regular computer for, such as typing up documents, online shopping, and video chatting with friends. Oh, and of course, reading e-books.

  • Countless Apps Available

To get the most out of your tablet, you can browse through millions of apps in various app stores on the internet. 

There’s an app for pretty much everything. Want to learn Portuguese while you cook dinner? There’s an app for that. Want to tune your guitar or ukulele to the key of E? There’s an app for that too.

 App stores like Google Play and Apple App Store have tons of free apps to use on your tablet, along with many that you can pay for.

  • Useful for Small Children

While I’m not advocating excessive screen time for kids, a tablet can be a convenient thing to have around when you have little ones. This is especially true for long car journeys or flights when you need something to keep your kids settled and content. 

Used in moderation, children can reap a lot of benefits from a tablet too. They can watch their favorite shows and movies and play educational games. They can even read e-books for kids!


  • Backlit Screen

Tablets have a backlit screen, so you’re essentially staring straight into the light source. This can put a strain on your eyes, especially if you’re using them for a prolonged period of time, as you might when you’re reading an e-book. 

They also have a glossy screen that can catch the light and make it difficult to see what you’re reading, especially if you’re in bright sunlight. 

  • Bulkier and Heavier

Tablets tend to have a larger screen and are often chunkier than e-readers, and they’re almost always significantly heavier. If you suffer from wrist strain or find it challenging to hold heavier objects, then you may find reading e-books on your tablet a little uncomfortable.

  • Less Affordable

Most tablets cost considerably more than e-readers. This is because of all the additional hardware and tech that’s built into them. Sure, some higher-end e-readers can be more costly, like the Kindle Oasis, but the vast majority tend to be under the $200 mark. That’s just the starting price for a low to a mid-range tablet. 

E-reader vs. Tablet: FAQ

Can You Handle Distractions?

Since the invention of smartphones, laptops, and tablets, reading is on the decline. 

Most of us spend too much time watching cat videos on youtube or scrolling through Facebook, and not enough time sitting down with a good book. If that sounds like you, ask yourself if you need the distractions of a tablet, or if you’re better off with a dedicated e-reader. That way, you won’t be tempted to check your social media notifications and reply to your work emails mid-way through a chapter. 

Do Your Eyes Need a Break?

As I’ve demonstrated above, tablets have a backlit screen that can be straining on your eyes, especially when they’re used for prolonged periods. These LCD screens have been proven to damage our eye health.

If you already get quite a bit of screen time on your phone or laptop as it is, then it might be wise to give your eyes and break and stick with an e-reader. These are designed for hours-long reading sessions and won’t cause your eyes any harm.

Do You Prefer an All in all-in-one device? 

If you’re looking for something that can act as a fully portable computer that you can also read e-books on, then the choice is obvious- go for a tablet. 

Tablets can be an especially good option for traveling or going on vacation since you can store tons of e-books on there and enjoy all the additional features of a tablet. You can browse the web, keep in touch with friends and family, and whatever else you usually use a computer for. It’s also great for taking vacation snaps!

Do Your E-Books Contain Enhanced Content? 

All e-books have the same written text as their regular print counterparts. But some e-books have the added advantage of having ‘enhanced content’ on the pages, which might be in the form of pictures, animations, video clips, or interactive graphs or maps.

While some e-readers can cope with basic enhanced content, many fall short since they’re nowhere near as powerful as a tablet. If you love reading e-books with enhanced content, it’s probably best to opt for a tablet that can handle these more advanced elements.

E-reader vs. Tablet – Final Words

If you’re simply looking for a portable tool for reading e-books, then an e-reader is the best choice for you. These devices are designed to read books for prolonged periods, they’re gentle on your eyes, lightweight, and generally much cheaper than a tablet.

But if you’re looking for an all in one device that will act like a portable computer that you can also read e-books on, then a tablet is your best bet. 

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