Many e-readers and large screen E INK devices are primarily marketed to read ebooks, but manga is increasing in popularity. Many of the biggest brands now support CBZ/CBR files, out of the box. These are chiefly file types that have a bunch of images inside of them. Brands like Pocketbook and Kobo have the best support for this format. There are also a bunch of Android readers that allow you to install your favorite manga apps, where you can buy content from providers, such as VIZ or even get them from the public library.
When it comes to reading ebooks on an E INK device, you can get away with virtually any model. 300 PPI tends to be best, for font clarity. Manga needs a larger screen in order to read all of the text and have the pictures fit in the frame. Larger screen devices are often best for this, but the larger a screen is, the more expensive the device is.
What is the difference between reading manga on an e-reader or a smartphone/tablet? E-Readers tend to be easier on the eyes, since they absorb light, rather than reflect it. It is the closest you will get to reading on real paper. Battery life is also a huge issue with tablets or smartphones, you normally have to recharge them every day, or every second day. E-Readers last 3-4 weeks, before they need a recharge.
Here are the best e-readers and large screen E INK devices that are best for digital manga.
Kobo Forma – The Forma has an 8 inch screen, this is the largest model that they sell. It has CBZ/CBR support right out of the box, so you can sideload in your own collection from your PC/MAC. The Forma is the only Kobo model that has official Dropbox support, so if your manga is housed there, you can easily download it, without the need of a computer/laptop. If you want to download free manga, you can access your local library branches collection, browse titles, checkout and read, right on the Forma. Kobo is owned by Rakuten, a very large Japanese company, so they have a large collection of manga that you can buy on the Kobo bookstore. The Forma is our number one pick of the best manga e-reader. It normally retails for around $270 USD.
Pocketbook InkPad X – This model has a large 10.3 inch screen, which really hits the sweet spot for reading digital manga. It supports CBZ/CBR right out of the box. Pocketbook has various cloud solutions that you can access your remote collection, but it plays very nicely with sideloading all of your content from a PC or MAC. It has 32GB of storage, which is enough for your entire library. The downsides is that there is little to no manga on the Pocketbook Bookstore, although it does have an internet browser to download things directly. This retails for around $419.99.
eonebook gen 2 – The Onebook second generation has two 7.8 inch screens, that open and close like a real book. The stock device does not come with any manga, but you have to buy cartridges, which are basically SD cards. Most are available in Japanese, but some have English. For example, the complete 18 volume series of Fist of the North Star retails for $229, which is affordable, because to buy the print manga, would cost $500 or more. The eonebook is available from Good e-Reader and retails for $339.
Onyx Boox Nova 3 or Note 3 – Onyx business model is primarily focused on digital note taking devices. They also have a large SKU with virtually every size. The Nova 3 has a 7.8 inch screen, while the Note 3 is 10.3. Either of these units are perfectly suited for reading manga. They have Android 10 and come with Google Play, so there is no shortage of apps you can download. There are tons of manga apps where you can read issues for free, download apps from major content provides, such as VIZ. They support CBR/CBZ right out of the box, so you can use the stock e-reading app to read your stuff. If it located elsewhere, such as Google Drive, Onedrive, Dropbox or any other cloud storage solution, just download the app and access your content. Onyx has various speed modes you can employ, that drastically ups the refresh rate of the screen, this is ideal for apps, since most were designed for phones and have lots of animated page turns and other multimedia features. The Nova 3 retails for $339 and the Note 3 is $549.
Likebook Ares or Alita – Boyue makes some of the best e-notes. They do not have native support for CBR/CBZ in their stock e-reading app, but it does have Android 8.1 and Google Play. You can simply download app of the manga apps that you want to get reading. Access your collection via cloud storage. The Likebook series is one of the few modern devices that have an SD card, so you can slot one in and get a ton of extra storage. The Ares has a 7.8 inch screen and costs $269, while the Alita has a 10.3 inch screen and retails for $429.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.