E-Reader or Tablet?

Which is best for you?

Best E-Reader 2014

E-Reader Choices 2014

kindle paperwhite v nook glowlightI’m going to assume that you enjoy reading and are used to spending a little time with your nose in a book. On that basis, this brief review looks only at dedicated e-readers.

Obviously you can read e-books on a tablet computer, but speaking as something of a bookworm myself, I know that is something that I don’t enjoy much after ten or fifteen minutes.

Don’t get me wrong; tablets are great and, if you want to skim through a pdf report or browse a word document for a brief time, they are fine for reading on. However, if you want to lose yourself in a nice chunky novel, those lovely LCD displays that work so well for browsing, video and games, will become less appealing by the minute.

The e-ink displays used in dedicated e-readers are as close to reading text printed on paper as makes no never mind, and the battery life is a lot longer – so you won’t run out of juice just as you get to a really good bit in your latest blockbuster novel.

So, without further ado, here are the very best e-readers available in 2014:

UPDATE: View the October 2014 updated Kindle readers here…

1. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

When Amazon launched the Paperwhite back in 2012, it, somewhat bullishly, proclaimed it to be “the world’s most advanced e-reader”. Of course, the mitigating factor was that Amazon was, and still is, absolutely right – it is the best reader available, bar none.

The new light, updated in 2013, is very evenly distributed and you can read your Paperwhite in dimly lit conditions or bright sunlight. Amazon has a huge selection of Kindle books available (I’ve never been unable to find the one I want) and many of these are free.

If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can borrow one free book a month from the Kindle Owners Lending Library. There’s no due date, you just return it when you’re done – but you won’t be able to borrow a new one until you return the current one.

To be frank, there’s not much to distinguish between a lot of readers technically speaking. The big deal with the Kindles is that Amazon make it so easy, and enjoyable, to download and read books. With that being said, here’s a brief technical summary:

Kindle Paperwhite Main Details
Screen size: 6″
Screen resolution: 212 pixels per inch (PPI), 16 level gray scale
Overall dimensions: 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″
Weight: 7.3 ounces
Memory: 2GB (call it 1,100 books)
Battery life: 8 weeks

2. Amazon Kindle

It might be a surprising second place choice for some people, but the small dimensions, low weight and low price of Amazon’s entry level Kindle make it a reader that is definitely worthy of your consideration.

You’ll like it especially if you prefer to have physical page turn buttons instead of tapping a touch screen to turn the page.

Unlike its Paperwhite big brother, it comes as Wi-Fi only with no Wi-Fi plus 3G option. However, you still get access to all of Amazon’s Kindle books and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library – at a bargain basement price.

It’s a great reader for the money and ideal for travelers.

Amazon Kindle Main Details
Screen size: 6″
Screen resolution: 167 pixels per inch (PPI), 16 level gray scale
Overall dimensions: 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″
Weight: 5.98 ounces
Memory: 2GB (1,400 books)
Battery life: 4 weeks

3. Barnes And Noble Nook Glowlight

List Price: $129.99
Current Price: $102.99
Buy Now
Price Disclaimer
The Nook Glowlight is a great reader. On a purely technical basis, you couldn’t slide a 32GB SD card between it and the Kindle.

In fact, when it got updated in 2013, it lost the main distinguishing points that separated it from the Paperwhite – physical page turn buttons and a slot for an SD card. It makes some sense, but it’s a shame in a way. The SD slot wasn’t such a big deal, but, personally speaking, I prefer physical page turn buttons.

The Nook’s light isn’t quite as good as the Paperwhite’s – but it’s perfectly serviceable. On the other hand, the Nook has twice as much memory. You’ll be able to carry an extra 900 books around with you if that’s a big deal for you.

Where the Nook loses out to the Kindle is the overall user experience. The Nook experience is excellent – but it’s just not quite as good as the Kindle.

B&N management also have a slightly flaky attitude to their Nook division. It’s clearly been a frustrating experience for them to have such a technically excellent product, but to be unable to close the gap on Amazon’s market leading position. The Nook has never quite achieved the success that it clearly deserves somehow.

That may be part of the reason why B&N senior execs seem to be constantly reconsidering the future of their Nook division. It doesn’t instill confidence in the Nook going forward.

However, rumors of the Nook’s death have been “greatly exaggerated” for quite some time now so, personally speaking, I wouldn’t hold off getting a Nook if that’s what you fancy. If you’re a long time B&N customer, it’s a sensible choice.

Nook Glowlight Main Details
Screen size: 6″
Screen resolution: 212 pixels per inch (PPI), 16 level gray scale
Overall dimensions: 5.0″ x 0.4″ x 6.5″
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Memory: 4GB (2,000 books)
Battery life: 8 weeks

4. Barnes And Noble Nook Simple Touch With Glowlight

This might be another surprise at number 4, but the Nook Simple Touch With Glowlight represents simply stunning value for money. A touch screen reader with its own light – for under $100! That’s not to be sniffed at surely.

When B&N brought out the Glowlight in 2013, rather than retiring the previous model, they just dropped the price. Of course, it’s not quite as good as the latest model – but it’s a truly great reader for the money.

It has physical page turn buttons on the left and right hand sides of the display and has a slot for an SD memory card.

If you’re a B&N fan/customer, or if you just don’t want to get into bed with Amazon, this is a great value reader.

It’s hard to know just how much longer B&N might make this available. If you love a bargain, don’t hang around!

Nook Simple Touch With Glowlight Main Details
Screen size: 6″
Screen resolution: 167 pixels per inch (PPI), 16 level gray scale
Overall dimensions: 6.50″ x 5″ x 0.47″
Weight: 6.9 ounces
Memory: 2GB (1,000 books) plus SD slot
Battery life: 4 weeks

5. Kobo Aura HD Digital Text Reader

List Price: $169.99
Current Price: $169.99
Buy Now
Price Disclaimer
Yup, that’s right – there are other manufacturers apart from Amazon and B&N! The big deal with the Aura HD is the display.

It’s a little larger, at 6.8″, than most of the other readers on the market – and it has a higher resolution, at 265 PPI, than most of the 6″ readers on the market. Users rave about the clear display.

It has its own built in light, which is very evenly distributed across the surface of the display. Connectivity is Wi-Fi only, there’s no 3G option.

It’s a little more expensive, getting into tablet territory quite frankly, than the other main readers. It’s also a little larger and heavier. In terms of content, it doesn’t have the benefits of either Amazon or B&N – but some people have a preference to be independent anyway (although be aware that independence may mean paying a little more for some of your e-books).

In all probability, the Kobo’s main advantage; the high definition display, will remain unique only until the next Kindle/Nook update. However, until then, if you want the absolute best reading screen, and especially if you don’t want to be “tied” to Amazon or B&N’s content system, the Aura HD might be the choice for you.

Kobe Aura HD Main Details
Screen size: 6.8″
Screen resolution: 265 pixels per inch (PPI), 16 level gray scale
Overall dimensions: 6.91″ x 5.05″ x 0.46″
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Memory: 4GB (2,000 books) plus micro SD slot
Battery life: 8 weeks

6. Sony PRS-T3

List Price: $411.00
Current Price: $411.00
Buy Now
Price Disclaimer
A little more difficult to find, and a little different when you do find it. Sony have eschewed the built in light trend, opting instead for a cover, which is provided with the reader, which has its own pull out light in it.

It does seem a little pricey, but as it has the cover supplied, you won’t need to buy that separately.

It comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and has a special 3 minute charge feature. Unfortunately, it may not be officially released in the USA as Sony don’t want it to compete with their latest tablet computer. You can find some examples on Amazon, but you might have to settle for the TS2, which is still a fine reader.

The Sony should appeal to anyone who is prepared to give up the convenience of the Amazon or B&N content system in return for a little more freedom and independence.

Sony PRS-T3 Main Details
Screen size: 6″
Screen resolution: 212 pixels per inch (PPI), 16 level gray scale
Overall dimensions: 6.3″ x 4.3″ x 0.44″
Weight: 7.1 ounces (including cover as supplied)
Memory: 2GB (1,200 books) plus micro SD slot
Battery life: 8 weeks


  • Ken Johnson says:

    The blog is really very nice and helpful for those who are searching for the best e-readers. Now-a-days several types of e-readers are available in the market. But the confusion is still which one is the right choice for us. I personally prefer Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, it has full of advanced features. Thanks a lot for such a nice blog.

  • Robin Johnstone says:

    Are Google’s public domain books available on all e-reader models?

    • admin says:

      To be honest, I’ve never accessed Google’s public domain books using an e-reader. Most of the ones that I have looked at seem to have been scanned in (but that may not be typical I admit). Scanned documents tend to read better on some form of computer – tablet, laptop or desktop as you prefer – than an e-reader.

  • danny says:

    A little known secret about the kindle is,that,..when you create your kindle amazon account ,you get a yourname@kindle.com free email addrees.you can send your
    Own files to this email address to access your own pdf files and free goole books. Ect.hope this helps.

  • Jeff says:

    I am looking for a ereader with a big screen as I need a big print. I don’t want to feel like I am changing page very often any suggestions

    • admin says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I’m assuming that you would prefer a dedicated reader. They are much easier on the eye than reading on a tablet.

      Both the Kindle and the Kobo Aura will allow you to resize fonts (and also to change the font) to suit. However, the Kindle has a 6″ screen (measured across the diagonal) and the Kobo Aura HD has a 6.8″ screen – so the Kobo might be a better choice for you given your font size requirements.

      Personally, I really like the Kindle – not just for the hardware but for the whole Amazon content system, Kindle unlimited etc. However, if you want a big font, with fewer page turns then you should definitely check out the Kobo readers on offer. 6.8″ instead of 6″ doesn’t sound that big a deal, but it is larger and you will probably notice a difference.

      You can check out the Kobos at http://www.kobo.com/devices#ereaders.

      If you only read for short periods at a time, then you might want to think about a tablet computer. The reading experience won’t be anything like as good – but you will get considerably larger screens which might support your required large fonts better. However, if you read for long periods of time, or if you have some underlying problem with your eyes/vision, you may not like the experience offered by a tablet.

      I would check out the Kobo range if I were you.

      Hope that you find something to suit your needs.

  • Christopher says:

    I have the old Sony Pocket Touch edition (can’t remember the PTS Number right now) and I still love it. I will be very sad when it kicks the bucket as I have yet to see another ereader as compact. Unfortunately Sony discontinued it as well as most of the rest of their line, and have closed down their online ebook store (I got the Hunger Games trilogy shortly after the first movie came out for about half what I would have paid amazon/b&n). Sony was the early leader in the ereader race, but let amazon and b&n out-market them and everyone forgot they existed. Great hardware.

    Does anyone know, can I buy amazon kindle ebooks and use them on the sony ereader? I have searched online quite extensively and have at best gotten mixed answers.

    • admin says:

      Hi Christopher,

      Thanks for commenting. You make a very good point, Sony were on the scene with the PRS long before Amazon – and they really were the bee’s knees back in 2006/2007. Excellent hardware from Sony of course – and somewhat better than the original Kindle (in my opinion). I think Amazon benefited from their strong link with books, whereas Sony were “just” an electronics manufacturer without a library of their own. Amazon really did a good job of positioning themselves as the default choice for e-readers between 2009 and now. I think it was the Kindle 2.0 that sealed the deal for them.

      It’s a real shame that Sony have given up on their reader range. They had (have?) some lovely devices.

      As far as getting Kindle books to work with your Sony reader, I think that this is possible if there is no DRM on the book – or if you remove the DRM by some means. Have a look here http://www.epubor.com/read-kindle-books-on-sony-ereader.html and see if it sheds any light on the matter.

  • Ruth says:

    I prefer to borrow and download library e-books from the local public library, than buy them. Are any of these better for that? Are Amazon and others limited to only “their” books?
    Thanks for making some excellent assessments available for consumers

    • admin says:

      Hello Ruth,

      It will depend very much on the arrangements at your local library. Most libraries do their best to provide books in formats which will suit their users, so it shouldn’t really make a great deal of difference which reader you choose.

      However, just to be on the safe side, I would suggest you have a quick chat with your friendly local librarian, just to see if they have any recommendations.

  • Adeel says:

    I couldn’t agree more, I can’t read more than 15 minutes on my laptop as it becomes uneasy on my eyes. Kindle is a much better option for reading . The new Paperwhite 3 (released few months ago) has a screen resolution of 1440*1080 (@300PPI). Thus the the text is sharper than the older model. I bought one lately and I have been using it to read novels like “The Martian” for hours without feeling any eye-strain.

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