This year there were more e-readers that got released than any other year in history. Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble all issued new hardware, which have been by far, the most popular. Tolino, Onyx Boox, Boyue, Pocketbook and a myriad of others all released a bevy of new e-readers. With so many devices that came out, which are the best ones to spend your money on?
1) Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition – The Signature edition is based on the 11th Generation Kindle Paperwhite. It is breaking new ground when it comes to a modern e-reader. It checks all the right boxes for a premium level device. It has a large 6.8-inch screen, 32GB of storage, USB-C and has the same white and amber LED lights that the Kindle Oasis employed. You can adjust the lights with a slider bar, but they can be automatically adjusted, based on your environment with the ambient light sensor. This is the first Kindle that has QI wireless charging, and Amazon is selling a new docking station for it.
There are a few big advantages when using a Kindle for your primary e-reader. They have the largest collection of audiobooks from Audible and ebooks. Amazon has deals with all of the big and small publishers, you will find all of the perennial bestsellers. The company also operates a large number of imprints, where they sign authors and release ebooks. Millions of titles titles are directly submitted by independent authors via Kindle Direct Publishing. There are a number of subscription options, such as Kindle Unlimited that has a million books, and comics books available. Amazon Kids+ is has thousands of kid friendly content from publishers such as Disney, which is really ideal. Amazon has the largest ecosystem in the world and the Kindle Signature Edition is well worth the cost.
2) Kobo Sage – The Kobo Sage is a new premium e-reader with a large eight inch screen. It is a dedicated ebook reader that has new audiobook functionality, the Kobo Store has a new audiobook section, which customers can buy and listen to it right on the device. This is accomplished via Bluetooth technology, so it is quite easy to use wireless headphones or an external speaker. The Sage is also compatible with the Kobo Stylus, so you can take notes inside ebooks, manga and PDF files, there is also a dedicated note taking app to freehand draw or solve complex math equations. The Sage has manual page turn buttons, which is really nice for those who like a tectonic feel. I like this model better than the Libra 2, because it has a better processor and better hardware. You can do more with the Sage than the Libra 2 anyways.
The Kobo bookstore is second only to Amazon, but I think Kobo handles ebook discovery better. The problem with Amazon is sometimes they have so much content, it is hard to discover new and exciting authors, whereas Kobo puts an emphasis on their editorial team to make sure you always find something new and exciting. Since they have less books than Amazon, this allows them focus on quality.
3) Onyx Boox Leaf – The Onyx Boox Leaf is a dedicated ebook reader with no note taking functionality. It was purely designed to read digital content, such as comics, books and manga. The large seven-inch screen allows more text to be displayed at any given time. It is running Android 10 and has access to the Google Play Store, so it is quite easy to download all of your favorite reading apps, such as Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Scribd or Libby. There are speakers on the Leaf, so you can listen to audiobooks, music or podcasts.
Onyx has their own store, but it is populated with royalty free titles. I think in order to get value, you need to download your favorite apps to buy digital content. Onyx and Boyue are basically the only brands that have Play right of the box.
4) Pocketbook Inkpad Color – The Inkpad Color it utilizing the second generation E INK Kaleido color e-paper technology. On a fundamental level, it still can only display 4,096 colors and 100 PPI, which is the same as the previous generation. So what has changed? E INK developed a new color filter array which dramatically improves color accuracy and gamut. The front-lit display has been improved for greater support of white LED lights that sit alongside the bezel and project light upwards, evenly illuminating the screen and not shining into your eyes. There is a 300 PPI screen and the device is capable of 4,096 different colors. The hardware is decent, but not stellar. It does have an SD card to enhance the 16GB of storage even further.
Pocketbook has a small bookstore, but they are mainly royalty free titles. You will want to sideload in your content or buy it from other online stores that sell it in EPUB and then use Adobe Digital Editions. Pocketbook has always embraced neophytes and advanced users alike.
5) Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight 4 – Barnes and Noble surprised the e-paper industry, by releasing their Nook Glowlight 4 at the beginning of December. This new e-reader has a number of key selling points. It has a high resolution display and is using a quad-core processor, which should keep things speedy. It also features redesigned manual page turn buttons, which curl towards the back. They are both on the right and left side, so it appears towards both right and lefthanded users.
Barnes and Noble is the largest bookselling chain the United States and only market they focus on. You can buy the Nook in stores and online, if you have questions or if your device is not working as intended, simply visit the store and get things sorted out. This is one of the best aspects about the Nook brand. Their online bookstore is really solid and puts a greater emphasis on quality than quantity, although you will find the same bestsellers from major publishers that Amazon and Kobo all have. The Nook cannot play audiobooks.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve 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. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.