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Guide Master: The 5 best e-readers you can buy in 2019



 The 2018 Kindle Paperwhite leaning against a shelf of books.
Enlarge / The new Kindle Paperwhite

Valentina Palladino

better and an e-reader may be for you. Yes, it has become easy to find material to read and to get it on any of the numerous devices we have in our electronic arsenals — smartphones, tablets, computers, and the like. But even in a world full of versatile devices, e-readers are still favorites among dedicated readers to get their hands on e-books and digital publications in many ways. Ultimately, it may be freedom through limitation: E-readers help you focus on reading rather than the distractions that are so easily accessible through other electronics.

But that's just one perk to having a dedicated reading device that either replaces or supplements your physical library. While e-reader technology has not changed much in the past few years, companies have updated their most popular e-readers to make them even more useful and competitive. One of the two most noteworthy is that it is difficult to tell them separately ̵

1; but trust the dedicated readers of Ars, there are noticeable differences within this product category.

Luckily, to help you decipher the world of e-readers ahead of any beaches, porches, or general downtime that may await you this summer, Ars has been testing and tinkering. Today, these are the best devices for all kinds of readers.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Table of Contents

Who needs an e -reader?

Not all book lovers need an e-reader, but one can come in handy if you want to read unencumbered wherever you go. E-readers are more efficient way to carry your entire library with you on an airplane, on the subway, or just down the road to the park. Instead of lugging around multiple hardcover or paperback books, you can carry around an e-reader that is much lighter and smaller than most books.

Most companies that make e-readers also companion mobile apps that can do many of the same things as their dedicated reading devices. Take Amazon's Kindle app for Android and iOS — it holds all of your books purchased from Amazon (and e-books borrowed from your library), lets you read on your device of choice whenever you want, and even lets you change things like font style and size at your leisure

However, those apps probably sit right next to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other non-reading apps on your mobile device. It can be used to read a reading session and browse social media when your main reading device is a smartphone. An e-reader can provide the distraction-free reading experience that some people need.

An e-reader can also save you time and money. If you are the type who likes to buy the books you read, many e-books cost a fraction of what their physical counterparts do. Building a fixed e-book not only saves space in your home but can also save you money in the long run.

For those who mainly get their reading material from a local library, apps like Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla connect to most big e-book companies and their e-readers. Instead of making multiple trips to the library, you can instantly download borrowed e-books to your e-reader and read to your heart's content without leaving your home or spending a dime

What to look for in an e-reader [19659016] Screen type, size, and quality

Typical e-readers have e-paper displays made with E-Ink technology. These non-reflective panels are mimic real paper and are more comfortable to look at for long periods than their LCD counterparts. But the same reading preferences, especially in today's age when LCD screens, are ubiquitous. While we are focusing on e-paper e-readers in this guide, we have included an LCD tablet option for those who like bright, color-rich panels and the more versatile devices that carry them.

Screen size dictates the overall size of an e-reader. Panels typically measure between 6 and 8 inches diagonally, and that makes for ultra-compact devices that are smaller and much smaller than a typical paperback book.

Quality is also pretty standard across modern e-readers, as most screens contain 150 to 300 pixels per inch. That level of quality ensures that letters and characters will be crisp and that little (if any) pixelation will be noticeable.

Screen lighting

A good reader will have lighting that can illuminate the display so you can read in dark environments. But instead of backlighting like LCD panels, most E-Ink displays have front lighting with a bunch of undetectable LEDs sitting around them. Most of the time they are hidden in the e-reader's design, but you will be able to adjust the intensity, and sometimes the hue, of the screen's lighting.

Most e-readers available today have more than one front light. More lights spread along the edges of the panel ensure that the entire display receives adequate light and that no dark patches exist.

Some e-readers will have a mixture of warm- and cool-hued lights so you can adjust the color of the light as the day goes on. Harsh blue light, like that which comes from our smartphones and other LCD-displaying devices, can harm the eyes, so having a few warm-toned lights can balance the color and make the reading experience better.

Design [19659017] The basic design of most e-readers has not changed much in recent years. These devices are black or white slabs or plastic dominated by their E-Ink or e-paper displays. Some older models used to have physical keyboards at the base of the display, but those have been phased out now.

The only way to get differently designed e-reader is to opt for an all-purpose tablet, which many readers may want to do. Android, iOS, and Windows tablets let you carry around your entire digital library in one place, and are also better if you want to read digital graphic novels and comics. They are also more versatile devices since you can download non-reading apps onto them as well.

But traditional e-readers have a few optional designs that you'll want to look for, namely Bluetooth connectivity and waterproofing. Bluetooth allows you to connect to a pair of wireless headphones and to listen to audiobooks saved to the e-reader — if the e-reader supports such a feature. Those that often go back and forth between the audiobook and the printed version of the same book may have an easier time with an e-reader that keeps both versions of the book in the same place.

Waterproofing is self-explanatory: a Waterproof e-reader will withstand a drop in the bathtub or the pool like a champ. In the past, only luxury e-readers had any type of water resistances built into their designs, but now companies have brought that feature to their more affordable models as well.

Storage and battery life

You won't find too many storage options on most e-readers: the two most common options are 8GB and 32GB, and some lower-end models will have 4GB. E-books don't take up ton of space, so 8GB will suffice for most people. However, if you have a huge digital library, many graphic novels and comics, or you want to save audiobooks to your e-reader, you should consider opting for a larger storage capacity.

E-readers have some of the best battery life of any modern electronics. Most will last weeks on a single charge, so you can get dozens of hours of reading in before they need more juice. You could even go to full week-long vacation with no charge for your e-reader (depending on the model and how much you use it), making these devices great travel companions.


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