What model of e-reader should I buy in 2021? Our buying guide is here to point you to the most suitable device for your needs. Format, budget, technical specifications: discover five quality e-readers tested and approved by TopWhich!
- Best ereader 2021
- Kobo vs kindle
- Kindle paperwhite
Reading has the wind in its sails. It must be said that the year 2020 did not leave the choice to many of us with its successive confinements due to Covid-19… Locked at home, nothing better than a good novel to escape. Digital is in this kind of case an excellent palliative, e-readers allowing to buy and store many books while taking up a minimum of space.
Best ereader 2021
While Amazon remains at the top of this market, other brands are to follow closely, especially because of greater openness to various digital formats. Some also dare originality to stand out. The choice is wide enough to please everyone. Whether you are a casual reader or a hard-core reader, you will certainly find your happiness in our comparison of the best e-readers of 2021.
1. Kindle Paperwhite
For an eReader, having the best screen on the market is a big advantage. This is the case of this new Paperwhite which offers a value for money more than interesting. With a very neat finish, a controlled autonomy and a light to the hair, the star reading light from Amazon has almost no defect except its damn proprietary format. The best e-reader on the market without a doubt.
Impossible to talk about e-reader without mentioning the famous Kindle Paperwhite. Loved as much as hated, this digital reading machine is undoubtedly a huge success for Amazon.
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When someone says they want an e-reader, they most likely mean they want an Amazon Kindle. While Amazon’s competitors might offer more technologically advanced or less expensive hardware, not a single one of them can hold a candle to the sheer volume of books, comics, and periodicals available to download and consume on a Kindle. This alone is reason enough to get a Kindle and not consider any other alternatives.
Ergonomics: the main thing is there
Nothing looks more like a Kindle than another Kindle. Amazon is a brand that does not like to change its recipes and it feels to use. The Kindle Paperwhite is a 6 ” e-reader with a very basic design, no frills. The latest version, however, adopts an edge-to-edge display that allows it to better resist water. So you can take the beauty by the pool, its IPX8 certification will ensure it survives an accidental immersion.
An easy-to-understand interface
If you are new to the world of e-readers, we must admit that the Kindle Paperwhite will be the easiest to take in hand. The American giant follows its software closely, making regular updates. Browsing is pleasant on a daily basis, with impeccable book management in the cloud. This e-reader does not support the EPUB format, which may be considered a negative point for some but will not generate the vast majority thanks to the quality of the Amazon ecosystem and the depth of its catalog.
A beautiful screen but no adaptive lighting
The main asset of a good e-reader is its screen. The Kindle Paperwhite packs a 6” slab with a resolution of 300 ppi, which is the top at the moment. The front lighting turns out to be perfect, overwhelming all competitors. The only big black spot is the lack of colorimetry management. It is necessary here to be content with a white light not always pleasant for night readings.
2. Kobo Nia
The Kobo Nia is an e-reader that takes many points from the Clara HD, its big sister. It is just as effective as it is, but sacrifices screen definition in order to limit the budget to less than 100$.
We still appreciate the opening of Kobo in EPUB format, which does not offer Amazon, its main competitor. The Canadian operating system flies by the way with regular updates that bring a real comfort of use.
Rakuten Kobo Inc., or simply Kobo, is a Canadian company which sells e-books, audiobooks, e-readers and tablet computers. It is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and is a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce conglomerate Rakuten. The name Kobo is an anagram of book. Wikipedia
The Kobo Nia is the Canadian firm’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle. Slightly more expensive than its competitor, this e-reader takes everything that makes the success of its big sisters for a price less than 100$, including their opening in EPUB format. £89.99 Kobo Nia: Buy Official Shop
An entry-level Clara HD
Kobo has been trying to unify the design of its e-readers in recent years. So it’s no surprise that the brand new Nia looks like two drops of water to the Clara HD. This is not bad news, this design proved very effective during our test.
The Kobo Nia is therefore a 6 ” ereader without navigation buttons. It recovers on its back the non-slip surface specific to the brand’s reading lights, ensuring a great comfort of holding. Given its tight price, the Nia is unfortunately not waterproof. It is also a bit heavy with a weight of 172 grams. However, this does not prevent it from being a very pleasant reader to use on a daily basis.
An easy-to-access system, open in EPUB format
Kobo has a policy very close to Amazon in terms of software, looking to deliver a very simple experience. Here, we are at the opposite of what the Vivlio Touch HD Plus offers, more customizable but more complex than the Nia.
In addition to easy-to-access software, Kobo makes it possible to read the EPUB format, which Amazon has always prevented. So you can import books in this format without any worries. Of course, Kobo also puts forward its own library, less rich than that of Amazon but more than enough to find thousands of books!
A quality entry-level display
To contain the price of the Nia, the Canadian brand had to sacrifice a few elements. The screen is one of them. It is therefore necessary to settle for a resolution of 212 ppi “only”. This is lower than on top models, but it is still more than enough for comfortable reading. At most will you distinguish a slight pixelation effect by being close to the slab.
The good news is that the Kobo Nia comes with ComfortLight, adjustable with a simple swipe on the edge of the slab. It is super convenient, we do not do without it once we have taken the shot!
3. Kobo Balance H2O
With its Libra H2O, Kobo finds the perfect formula to match the Kindle Oasis, its main competitor. At once ergonomic, open in EPUB format and easy to use, the Canadian ereader has it all.
The latest addition to the Canadian brand Kobo, the Libra H2O e-reader takes up what made the success of the Kobo Forma while adopting a smaller format. A winning formula that has enough to undermine the Amazon Kindle Oasis. £119.99 Kobo Libra H2O: Buy Official Shop
The best ergonomics of the moment
If there is a reader to remember for the ergonomic side, it is the Kobo Libra H2O. Thanks to its side handle and its anti-slip back, never such a machine has held so well in the hand. If the screen is touch-sensitive, physical buttons located at the level of the thumb make it easy to turn the pages. Right-handed or left-handed, it doesn’t matter : the built-in gyroscope allows the screen to be rotated according to the orientation of the e-reader. On top of that, the machine is waterproof. A real model of comfort !
Simplicity and openness
If Kobo favors an interface centered on the simplicity of access, the Canadian company does not forget to remain open in order to dam the pawn to Amazon. The software thus manages the famous EPUB format. The settings remain simple to access, a drop-down menu allowing access to all the functions of the eReader from almost any screen. Beginners will be delighted.
Furry screen to read comfortably at night
Slightly larger than that of the Kobo Clara HD, the Libra H2O’s electronic ink display is 7” for a definition of 300 ppi. This is as much as the Kindle Oasis, the avowed target of the Canadian e-reader. It has a colorimetric adjustable front light for night reading. The intensity can also be managed by sliding the finger on the edge of the slab, which is both precise and very comfortable on a daily basis.
4. Kindle Oasis
Relatively expensive, the Kindle Oasis is nevertheless worth a look. It stands out with excellent ergonomics and an aluminum shell of the most beautiful effect, not to mention many sensors that optimize comfort.
The high-end flagship of Kindle e-readers, the Oasis model is renewed to adopt the best technologies of the moment in a very elegant semi-compact format. Here’s what to remember. £229.99 Kindle Oasis: Buy Amazon Shop
Amazon is the first brand to have tried several years ago to introduce a side handle design on an e-reader. The American brand continues its momentum with its latest generation of Kindle Oasis. We find the famous handle with two buttons to change the pages and a gyroscope to change the direction of the screen. The grip is therefore very pleasant, whether right-handed or left-handed. Not to spoil anything, this reading light is water resistant.
An ecosystem as closed as ever
Years pass but Amazon does not seem to want to make any efforts to open in EPUB format. We therefore remain siloed in the world of the American manufacturer that pushes its own proprietary e-book format with DRM. Even if we lose flexibility, we must admit that the Amazon library is incredibly dense and that its cloud management is impeccable. Interface level, the Kindle Oasis benefits from the same possibilities as the other e-readers of the American brand.
Finally an adjustable color temperature display
Amazon has always lagged behind the competition on the front lighting side. The Kindle Oasis, however, fills the gap with color temperature changeable lighting. Even better, a brightness sensor allows you to modulate the intensity according to the ambient lighting, which is very rare in the world of e-readers. The 7 ” slab at 300 ppi can give the best of itself in all circumstances.
5. Vivlio InkPad 3
We had a big crush on the InkPad 3. This new ereader stands as an undisputed reference in the 8 ” segment. It must also be said that the competition is rather light in this sector, which does not take away its qualities from this beautiful machine.
Now we move on to 8 ” e-readers with a must-have model, the InkPad 3. Carried by the Lyon brand Vivlio, this e-reader has great assets to seduce a wide audience in search of an open solution. ...$$… InkPad 3: Buy Amazon Shop
One Touch HD Larger format
Created by the Swiss company PocketBook, Vivlio’s e-readers tend to look like two drops of water. The InkPad 3 thus takes the same shapes as its little sister Touch HD Plus, except that the buttons are smaller. Finesse and lightness are at the rendezvous, providing a great comfort of reading. Be careful though, this 8 ” reading light is not waterproof.
The pro of reading content
With a large screen, digital reading takes on another dimension. PDF management is thus at the top on the InkPad 3 which is perfectly cut for manga. Built-in micro-SD port helps to increase memory. The icing on the cake, Bluetooth is included to listen to music or audiobooks from the machine. Difficult to make more complete at this price level, especially since the e-reader is full of parameters that will appeal to the most hack.
A large screen of good quality
The InkPad 3 does not go with the back of the spoon in terms of quality. Its 8 ” screen displays a definition of 300 ppi ideal for viewing the smallest details of your favorite manga. Note also the impeccable management of the front lighting, as advanced as on the Touch HD Plus. Reading on this type of large electronic ink slab thus goes to another level!
How do I choose my e-reader?
What screen size for my ereader?
If the good old ereader made its debut with 6 ” slabs, technological evolution and uses quickly put their grain of salt. Nowadays, therefore, it is not uncommon to cross models with screens of 8’, even 10’ or more. Difficult to call these devices “e-readers” as we approach touch tablets…
In any case, screen size is an important criterion. As often, the larger the slab, the greater the weight will be. The 6 ” format is ideal for reading novels. On the other hand, lovers of manga and comics have every interest in seeing bigger, 8’ being a minimum to read in all comfort, without having to zoom in and out non-stop. So mature your uses well before taking the plunge!
What formats are compatible with my ereader?
Before committing to a brand, take the time to think about your current and future needs. The choice of formats is of great importance. Indeed, you may have to download your books on various sites. The standard is then the EPUB format, supported by most e-readers… except Amazon! The American company uses its own file type, incompatible with devices from Kobo, Vivlio, Bookeen and company.
Similarly, if you are reading manga and comics, it is worth checking that your future reader supports CBZ and CBR files, or even PDFs. This is not the case for all, so do not hesitate to take a tour of the sites of the builders to inquire in order to avoid future disappointments.
How are DRM handled by my ereader?
By acquiring an ereader, you will certainly be confronted with the famous DRM that makes so much ink flow. These are digital protections designed to prevent piracy. In absolute terms, this idea is good. Except that in fact, DRM prevents you from lending the books and using them out of your ereader. So it is rather restrictive !
Whatever ereader model you choose, you will have to deal with Adobe DRM. Bookeen created LCP, a less restrictive DRM that allows the lending of books under certain conditions. The ideal remains to choose an e-reader compatible with the EPUB format and to download books on sites offering purchases without digital protection. Otherwise, you will have to settle for staying on the store proposed by the brand, with little chance of recovering your acquisitions if you change creamery one day…
Buttons, handle, gyroscope: what ergonomics for my future e-reader?
For a comfortable reading, your ereader should be light, compact and pleasant to take in hand. Manufacturers compete with ingenuity to develop ever more ergonomic machines. In the lead, we find Kobo who has been able to create machines close to perfection with its models with handle Forma and Libra H2O. Their anti-slip back is also a nice asset !
Do not hesitate to take a look from the side of Vivlio. It is one of the only brands that retains buttons as a complement to the touch screen. These are customizable for quick access to essential functions. If you don’t like buttons, then the Kindle will be on top thanks to a stripped-down look betting everything on the screen. Finally, Bookeen is the brand that goes the most off the beaten track with its Diva HD. Rather heavy, this reading light fits perfectly in hand and takes advantage of a gyroscope to automatically turn the display, like the Kobo Forma.
So think carefully about your uses before you go to the checkout. If possible, try in-store. If the software is important, the reading comfort is just as important!
Should I opt for front lighting on my ereader?
The answer is yes, undeniably. Even if you do not read at night, the front lighting will save you the day more than once if the sun comes to hide or the end of the day comes. Nowadays, even reading lights under $ 100 have front lighting. Best of all, it is often adaptive, allowing to vary the temperature of the screen. At night, the slab will change to orange tones to limit eye strain. Each builder handles lighting differently. In any case, you are strongly recommended to take a model that is equipped with this technology. Your reading comfort will be clearly improved !
Best ereader FAQ
What is better Kobo or Kindle?
Both brands offer compelling experiences at similar price points and durable devices that will likely last for years barring major accidents. But Amazon offers a slightly better store experience and selection, while Kobo offers slightly better hardware.(1)
Are e readers dying?
It is no surprise that the dedicated e-reading device is dying. But the numbers of new ereader buyers are declining. Smartphones are and will continue to be the most used device for reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks—a two in one killer for dedicated devices. For self-publishing authors, the future is clear.(2)
Which is the best ereader UK?
The Libra H20 is our pick of Kobo’s stable of eReaders. It offers largely the same appealing design as the Forma, with a light chassis, chunky grip, textured back and IPX8 water resistance, as well a 300ppi screen and 8GB of storage. (3)
Should I buy an e-reader?
While not as compelling a case as a few years ago, the math means buying an e-reader is still a pretty good investment for a heavy reader. However, the price of trade paperbacks tends to have a narrower price difference between the e-book and traditional book versions.(4)
Should I buy Kindle or tablet?
If you want a device that does a lot of things apart from providing reading platform, then go for a tablet. Otherwise for reading purpose only, go for Kindle. Let me know your experience or if you get a better option for reading.(5)