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The best e-reader for 2021

While you can read a book with any phone or tablet if you have an app like Apple Books, Kobo, Kindle, or Nook, a dedicated e-reader promises a much less distracting and much more enjoyable reading experience. You can access any category of e-books with a quick download, whether you’re looking for classic literature or the latest guilty pleasure thriller.

Dedicated e-readers don’t have the internet, email, social media, or other entertainment options to steer you away from your book, and they have great battery life to boot. Unlike phones and tablets, which can be washed in direct sunlight, many e-book readers use E Ink technology and are waterproof, making them great for reading on the beach or by the pool without causing fatigue. visual. You your local library may offer free e-book downloads for its members, and free e-books are also widely available online.

Looking for a better way to read all those digital books in your electronic library? It is time to update your e-reader. While many people are still attached to their dead books, e-readers offer a host of advantages. You can search and highlight passages with a touch screen and change the font size. And you’ll never lose your luck if you don’t have a reading light because all of the best e-readers on the market have self-illuminated displays.

This list, which I update regularly, is dominated by Amazon Kindle models, including the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kindle Oasis, and the classic Amazon Kindle, because I believe it is still the best digital “ecosystem” for reading. Amazon also offers many budget and subscription options. And while Barnes & Noble still makes their Nook reader, if you want to steer clear of Amazon, I suggest you go for a Kobo model.

So, ready to start reading? Whether you like biographies or graphic novels, you will find the best e-reader for your digital book needs on this list.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you’re shopping for someone who’s looking for the latest Kindle e-reader, this is the Goldilocks in the Amazon lineup and our current winner of the CNET Editors’ Choice Award in the category. Here are some of the things CNET editors love about the Kindle Paperwhite:

  • It is 10% thinner and lighter than the previous version.
  • It has a “flush front” design with a back made of a softer, more grippy material rather than hard plastic.
  • It’s a fully waterproof Kindle, like the higher-end Kindle Oasis, and it has a plastic screen that Amazon says is resistant to shatters and scratches.
  • It has built-in Bluetooth, so you can download audiobooks from Amazon Audible and listen to them with wireless headphones.

While the water-resistant Kindle Paperwhite is priced at $ 130, you regularly get a $ 90 (and sometimes even $ 85) discount, which is when you should buy it. It is highly likely that Amazon will update the Kindle Paperwhite in 2021, but it is unclear when or how much the update will be. For example, USB-C charging could be added and perhaps the lighting scheme could be updated – don’t expect dramatic updates.

Read our Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) review.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Amazon’s top-of-the-line E Ink e-reader was slightly updated in 2019, but this Kindle e-reader device is basically identical to the previous Kindle Oasis, except for one key difference: It has a new, color-adjustable built-in light that lets you customize the tone. from cool to warm in color, depending on whether you are reading during the day or at night. You can also set the screen warmth to automatically update with sunrise and sunset, unlike Night Shift mode on Apple devices.

At $ 250, the Oasis is expensive for an e-reader. Most people will be happy with the most affordable Paperwhite for reading their Kindle e-books, but if you want the best of the best with an anti-glare screen for your reading experience, and don’t mind paying an extra price for it, the Oasis is possibly the one. the Kobo Forma, which also sells for $ 250, has an 8-inch screen, larger than the Oasis’s 7-inch screen.

Read our Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) review.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The latest version of Amazon’s entry-level e-book reader, which Amazon simply calls the Kindle, now has a self-illuminated display and an improved design. At $ 90, this e-book reader costs $ 10 more than the previous model, the 2016 Kindle, but this Kindle device regularly goes on sale for just $ 60. I prefer Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, which has a tall screen. resolution (text and images appear slightly sharper), it is waterproof, and has a better lighting scheme. But if you don’t want to spend a lot on an e-reader, the standard Kindle is a good option, especially when it’s discounted. It is likely to be updated in 2021.

Read our Amazon Kindle (2019) review.


Rakuten manufactures a line of Kobo e-readers that not only work with the Kobo store, but also support 14 file formats and e-books natively (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR). In other words, if you get your e-books, or any other digital document, from anywhere what’s more Amazon, this device is a Kindle alternative that you will probably read them. The Kobo device has its own e-book store with thousands of books, and has built-in support for checking out e-books from local libraries through the OverDrive service. (You can get library books on Kindles through OverDrive’s Libby app, but it’s not that straightforward process.)

The Kobo Libra H20, which retails for $ 150, sits in the middle of the line and, as the name implies, is completely waterproof. It has a 7-inch HD E Ink display (1,680×1,264 pixel resolution), a built-in light, and no ads (you have to pay $ 20 to remove them from Kindle devices).

Available in black or white, you can use the Kobo Libra in portrait or landscape mode. Other Kobo e-book reader devices include the entry-level Kobo nia ($ 100), Kobo Clara HD ($ 118) and Kobo’s flagship e-reader, the Kobo Forma ($ 250), which has a larger 8-inch high-resolution screen.

David Carnoy / CNET

There was a select group of readers who loved the Kindle DX, which was discontinued several years ago. Sony and others have made e-ink “tablets” the size of an iPad, but they tend to be quite expensive. Kobo is now trying to fill that jumbo e-reader niche with its 10.3-inch Elipsa, which is sold as the “Elipsa Bundle” and includes a sleeping pouch and stylus. The display is quite sharp and easy to read with an E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen that has a 1404 x 1872 resolution (227 PPI) and a dark mode.

Despite having a 1.8GHz quad-core processor with 32GB of storage, an E Ink device like this still feels relatively slow compared to an iPad (with an Apple Pencil). But the performance is decent enough and the battery life is still a great strong point for the E Ink devices; Like other e-readers, the Elipsa’s battery life is calculated in weeks rather than hours.

Elipsa supports 15 file formats natively (EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR) and weighs 13.5 ounces (383 g) Plus the cover adds additional weight, making it quite a heavy e-reader. However, you can use the case to prop up the e-reader so you don’t have to hold it while reading, taking notes, or checking and marking documents.

Large e-readers aren’t for everyone, but if you like seeing a lot of words on a page or increasing the font size, this Kobo e-reader is an attractive option. They are also good for looking at PDF files.

The LifeBook P10 is an alternative for slightly less, but CNET has yet to review that model.

David Carnoy / CNET

If you don’t want to pay a premium for Kobo’s larger e-readers, Clara HD is a good alternative at $ 120. It’s a simple e-reader that has Kobo’s built-in ComfortLight Pro lighting and a 300 dpi “HD” display. 1,072 x 1,448), 8 GB of storage and a 1 GHz processor.

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