When it comes to reading, many people still prefer print, but e-readers are quickly becoming a device of choice, thanks to their portability, ease of use and multi-function capabilities.
Roughly the size of a paperback book or tablet — and much lighter than a hardcover tome — e-readers can hold dozens of digital books at once, letting you toggle between your favorite reads, or compile them for a long flight or commute. The best e-readers these days feature intuitive screens, that will adjust the lighting to let you read your text clearly, whether in sunlight or shade. And the screens are designed to be gentler on your eyes, reducing the eye strain you get when staring at your phone for hours.
E-readers also perform a number of other functions, letting you take notes, read PDFs and even get on WiFi. The only differences: you scroll through your pages instead of flipping through them, and your “book” is now packed inside a super thin tablet instead of a thick and heavy paper binding. These devices can also hold comics, magazines and audiobooks too.
E-readers won’t completely replace the physical book — according to the latest Pew Research Center findings, 39% of Americans say they only read print books, while 29% read in print and digital — though the same study finds the number of digital-only readers is growing. Still, for a convenient, portable and — in some of the options below — waterproof way to get some reading in, these e-readers are a solid bet.
While Amazon has cornered the market in recent years with their best-selling Amazon Kindle, we’ve found three alternatives that deliver strong battery life, enhanced viewing options and are backed by solid reviews.
1. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
When it comes to e-readers, Amazon has set the standard with their popular Kindle Paperwhite model. The thinnest, lightest Kindle Paperwhite yet, the device features a 300 ppi glare-free display that makes it feel like you’re reading the text off a piece of white paper (hence the “Paperwhite” name). A built-in light illuminates the text in darker settings or outdoors at night.
This new model is certified waterproof, with an IPX8 rating. The device can be accidentally submerged in up to two meters of water for up to 60 minutes without any damage.
This 32GB model has more than enough storage to hold all your books, magazines, comics and audiobooks (just plug in your headphones to listen).
Amazon says a single battery charge can last for weeks, though battery life will vary depending on whether you have the WiFi on or not. Though it is marketed as “glare-free,” some users say the screen still picks up a lot of reflection from building windows and the sun, so they occasionally have to adjust their reading angles to see text clearly.
2. Likebook Mars
The Likebook Mars is a slim, portable e-reader with dual color temperature modes to help ease eye strain. It also has a 1.5 GHz processor for fast, active responsiveness and a 300 ppi resolution E-ink touchscreen. Zoom in or out of the page using your fingers when you want to see something up close.
Users say the background lighting is evenly distributed throughout the screen, reducing shadows that could cause fuzziness. The Likebook’s anti-glare technology helps reduce any reflective light, and its 24 grades of lighting automatically adjust between cool and warm tones to make the screen easier to see.
The Likebook comes with 16GB of storage space, though an exterior slot lets you slide in an SD card to add more memory. Unlike the Kindle, the Likebook lets you download apps onto your device, so you can listen to music, read the news, search on Google and more. Purchase: $239.00 on Amazon.com.
3. BOOX Nova Pro
This highly-rated 7.8-inch e-reader works on Android OS and has a front-lit, 1872 x 1404 px display for clear, high-definition reading. Users say text is easy to read from any angle, and BOOX says there’s no glare coming off the glass-based screen, even in direct sunlight. Choose the cooler light hue for daytime reading, and switch to the warmer light in the evenings. Users say the warmer hue makes it easier to see the text in the dark, and also helps to get your eyes ready for sleep.
BOOX’s “electromagnetic touch” and “capacitive touch” technology lets you write directly on the screen with a stylus or with your fingers.
This high-performance e-reader is WiFi-enabled and comes with 1.6G of quad-core, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The best part: all of these features are packed into a super slim device that weighs less than eight ounces. Purchase: $319.99 on Amazon.com.
With a new UI and a crystal clear 300 dpi screen, the inkBOOK is a solid option if you’re looking for an affordable and reliable e-reader. It’s bluetooth-enabled, offers a touchscreen display and is compatible with a host of apps. Users say the hi-res display is easy to read, and the adaptive backlight automatically adjusts lighting depending on where you are (and what time of day it is).
It’s not as fast as some of the higher-priced options on the list, and unlike the Kindle, which offers hundreds of ways to customize and store your device, the inkBOOK doesn’t have a lot of accessory options. Still, if you’re a leisurely reader who just wants a dependable device for your next vacation or flight, there’s a lot to like here. Purchase: $239.99 on Amazon.com.