Whether the e-Book reader is for travelling, to save space or to have all your favourite books in one place, the digital book revolution reached almost every bookworm. These devices store thousands of books, magazines and newspapers, allowing you to download everything you like to read and, in some cases, even watch or listen to. You can take notes, look up words using the built-in dictionary and even browse the internet, all in a lightweight, portable, device. E-Book readers are friends of everyone who loves to read. Among the best e-readers of 2017 there are many top e-readers that are worth looking at. But what is the difference between the latest Amazon Kindle and the Kobo Aura? The following guide will walk you through the most important features that have to be taken into consideration when buying an e-Book reader, helping you to choose the right one for you.
The size of e-readers varies between 5 and 10 inches, while the most common size is 6 inches, like in the case of Kindle Paperwhite, Kobo Glo, and Noox Simple Touch. They are smaller than tablets because e-Book readers have to be portable. Some of the smallest e-readers with a 5 inch screen are Kobo Mini, Cybook Opus, Pocketbook 360 and the Sony PRS-350, which is the most popular 5 inch model, due to its very high build quality. There are also 9.7 inch e-readers that are probably the best for displaying PDF files, but, on the other side, they are more expensive, going from $249 to $599. E-readers with a 9.7 inch screen size are, for example, the Jetbook Color, Icarus Excel, and Onyx Boox M92. There is no general answer concerning the question of the perfect screen size for an e-reader. It depends on what you will be using your e-Book reader for and your preferences. If you regularly read PDF files, a 9.7 inch reader might be a good choice since smaller screens sizes often have problems handling them, whereas 6 inch screens are more portable and usually offer front-light technology.
Most e-Readers have e-paper displays, which are meant to imitate paper and reduce power consumption. E-ink is a particular type of e-paper display with high brightness, making reading easy for long periods of time, even in low-light conditions. Less expensive options have no backlight, so you need light to be able to read, but most of today's e-readers provide a light on the edges with different intensities of brightness. A huge advantage of e-ink displays is that they allow you to read in bright sunlight, while LCD screens with glossy displays, used on tablets, reflect light and make reading outside more difficult. E-readers with LCD screens have a shorter battery life and are less readable but, on the other hand, they can reproduce color and have better graphics, which can be an important factor when you are interested in reading magazines or comic books.
Other factors that influence the reading experience are the resolution, pixel density and contrast ratio. A high pixel density, which is measured in pixels per inch (ppi), and a high resolution mean that the images are sharp and clear. In general, more expensive e-readers will also offer a better image quality. While cheaper e-readers have displays with 200 ppi or less, which is enough if you want it for basic reading, more expensive models will have 300 ppi, making the text clearer and more like on a real paper.
The e-reader with the best resolution is the Kobo Aura HD (1440 x 1200 pixels) followed by the Kindle Voyage and the Kindle Paperwhite, which also have a remarkable contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is the range between the lightest and darkest areas of the image. The higher the contrast ratio, the darker black the text appears and the easier it is to read.
Built-in lights allow you to read for a long time without making your eyes tired. Most 6 inch e-readers have front-light displays, using LED lights that surround the screen and shine the light downward. This new technology allows you to read in the dark, without having the light shining directly in your eyes, like it is with LCD tablets.
Depending on the navigation style, there are three types of e-readers. There are the ones that have page flip buttons or bars, there are models with a touch screen, where you choose the content or turn pages, and models which offer both options.
The advantage of touch screens is the on-screen keyboard, which makes it much easier to browse in online book stores, take notes or search for words within the text. E-readers with touch screen are, for example, the Kindle Oasis and the Kobo Aura One.
Page flip buttons or bars
Most manufacturers stopped producing e-Book readers with page flip buttons when touch screens became widely used on devices, although side buttons are very convenient for single-handed use, as flipping pages with a swipe can be a tricky task in this situation. Therefore, Amazon brought back the page flip buttons and flip bars on the latest Kindle devices, like the Kindle Voyage, adding an a new feature: haptic feedback.
Number of file formats supported
Before buying an e-reader, it is essential to know what types of files you will be using the most and check out which e-reader supports those type of files. It is also important to consider other file types than the standard e-Book formats, like music or video files. The more types of files your device can support, the more flexibility you have. The average number of supported files is 15.8, with the Barnes & Noble NOOK HD Smoke 8GB supporting the most file formats (37) and the Tolino Shine supporting only 3 file formats. Kindle e-Book readers support many types of files: the standard Kindle format (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC, HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP through conversion.
Now, here is the deal:
The problem concerning compatibility is that there is no universal e-Book format, so when you decide on one brand, you are kind of stuck with this brand, unless you are ok with buying all the books again for the new e-reader of a different brand. Especially with a Kindle, it is almost impossible to switch to a Nook or Sony later on and keep all your books. With free, public domain books, it is a bit easier to have them on every device, as well as with books without copyright, but if you like new books that are copy restricted, it is almost impossible to switch. So browse the e-Book stores before buying an e-reader to be sure the brand’s book store offers the books and magazines you are interested in.
More internal storage means you can keep more content on your e-reader, which is nowadays no problem, since most of today’s e-Book readers can store more than 1,000 books or 4GB of storage, like the Kindle Oasis or Kindle Voyage. If this is still not enough, you can use the cloud storage that almost every vendor offers, allowing you to download content on your device whenever you feel like. The download works only when connected to WiFi, so you'll need a model with WiFi.
If the internal storage is not enough for you, e-Book readers which support external storage via a microSD card or USB are the way to go. You can significantly increase the storage space and turn your device into a huge digital library. E-readers like the Kobo Aura H2O and the Irex technologies Digital Reader have a memory card slot.
Almost all of today’s e-Book readers offer WiFi, but if being able to download content whenever you want is important for you, the 3G cellular data might be a good choice, since you will not need to wait for connection anymore. This feature is only available with more expensive models.
Most e-readers have an integrated battery. E-Book readers with e-ink displays have low power consumption, so the battery can last for more than a week on one charge, while the battery life of tablets is much shorter, mainly due to the fact that the display uses up a lot of. The average battery power for e-book readers is around 1437.8 mAh. The e-readers with longest battery life are: