Folks used to think that e-readers would relegate traditional paper books to the scrapyard of the past and destroy the publishing industry as we knew it. But, in the time since the first Kindle e-reader was unveiled in 2007, the dire declarations of what effect the devices might have on our reading habits and on publishers have given way to widespread acceptance from industry wonks and bookworms alike, for one simple reason: E-readers are pretty great.

Lightweight, easily readable in direct sunlight or, on models equipped with a built-in backlight, in the dead of night, an e-reader is an excellent choice for browsing periodicals, documents, comic books, and of course, books. Most are capable of storing thousands of books—and with power-efficient E Ink displays, word aficionados can typically read for weeks at a time before their device’s battery will need to topping off. These are all great features but, as they’re all features that most e-readers share, choosing which device to buy can be daunting. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the device that suits your needs. We’ve assembled reviews of the most popular e-readers on the market today—as well as some you might not have heard of that deserve your attention.

The buying advice you’ll find here is the culmination of months of research and hands-on testing, reinforced by years of experience in hardware journalism and a profound love of reading. We hope you’ll enjoy our in-depth reviews, but if you’re just looking for a quick buying advice, you’ll find our top two picks—and a money-is-no-object recommendation below. Prefer to do your own research? Scroll down to the features we think you should look for in an e-reader.

This story was updated November 27 to include PCWorld’s review of the second-generation Kindle Oasis.

The best e-reader for most people: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (3rd generation)

The design of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite hasn’t changed much since it was first released back in 2012. On the upside, most of the changes have been improvements in resolution. But as the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Now in its third generation, the Paperwhite comes with an easy-to-read high-resolution display; adjustable backlighting, so you can read in most any lighting conditions; enough internal storage to hold thousands of books; and a battery that will keep it going for weeks at a time between charges.

Every Kindle owner can Amazon’s massive online store full of electronic books, magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. That’s something no other e-reader company comes close to competing. Voracious readers can also opt for a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, which provides unlimited monthly access to more than 1.4 million titles. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be able to borrow books from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or from Amazon Prime Reading. When you buy a Kindle Paperwhite, you’re not just getting a piece of hardware—you’re investing in access to the largest ecosystem of downloadable text content in the world.

Runner-up best e-reader: Kobo Glo HD

While we have some concerns about its build quality, we still feel comfortable recommending Kobo’s Aura Glo HD as a less-expensive alternative to Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. Similarly priced and with similar specifications, the Glo HD provides a reasonably affordable gateway to Kobo’s online offerings, including access to their respectably sized ebook store, the ability to borrow library books through OverDrive, and online content through the use of a Pocket account.

While you won’t enjoy the huge selection of books and periodicals that Amazon’s Kindle Store and Amazon Prime make available to Kindle Paperwhite owners, the wide variety of file types that are supported—and therefore vast amount of content that Glo HD users can read on their device—will leave Kobo buyers satisfied with their purchase.



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