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A woman sitting on the couch using an e-reader to read a book. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Best E-Readers of 2022

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

A woman sitting on the couch using an e-reader to read a book. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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Editor's Choice Product image of Kobo Libra H2O
Best Overall

Kobo Libra H2O

A large, bright, waterproof e-reader with a great bookstore and no shortage of free reading material. Read More

Pros

  • Crisp, bright display
  • Waterproof
  • Wide selection of paid/unpaid reading material available

Cons

  • Charges via Micro USB
Editor's Choice Product image of Kobo Nia
Best Value

Kobo Nia

This entry-level e-reader boasts top-of-the-line features Read More

Pros

  • Light, comfortable to hold
  • Provides paid and unpaid reading options
  • User-friendly interface

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Low display resolution
Editor's Choice Product image of Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition (11th Gen, Without Ads)
Best Kindle

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition (11th Gen, Without Ads)

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best e-readers around. Read More

Pros

  • Large, crisp display
  • Massive content catalog
  • USB-C charging

Cons

  • None we can think of
Product image of Kobo Elipsa

Kobo Elipsa

An outstanding e-reader with the promise of becoming a competent digital notetaking platform. Read More

Pros

  • Bright, crisp display
  • Access to a massive amount of reading material
  • Dropbox syncing
  • Digital note taking capabilities

Cons

  • Note taking software needs work
  • Heavy when used with included case
  • Stylus buttons easy to push by accident
Product image of PocketBook InkPad 3 Pro

PocketBook InkPad 3 Pro

This mostly capable e-reader is held back by its poor digital bookstore and questionable build quality. Read More

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Excellent e-book management
  • Crisp, bright 7.8" display

Cons

  • Underwhelming digital bookstore
  • Questionable build quality
  • poorly placed physical buttons

It can be hard to settle into reading online, with so many distractions that come from modern life. To get away from constant notifications from online services like Facebook and Instagram, you could turn off your smartphone or tablet and crack open a good book. Alternatively, you can invest in an e-reader. An e-reader can hold, literally, thousands of books and lets you step away from distractions that come with computing devices in favor of a more focused experience.

After weeks of research and months of testing, I can tell you that the Kobo Libra H2O (available at Kobo) is the best e-reader, for most people. Featuring a large display, crisp screen resolution, and great front lighting, a well-stocked online bookstore, and a number of built-in applications that make accessing free content easy, it offers every feature that a book lover could want. If you prefer a smaller device or need to buy one on a budget, Kobo’s Nia (available at Walmart) is also a fine choice. It offers most of the features of the Libra H2O, in a less expensive package.

If you’re already invested in Amazon’s ecosystem of books, periodicals and audiobooks, our favorite Kindle is the Kindle Paperwhite (2021) (available at Amazon).

Here are the best e-readers we tested ranked, in order.

  1. Kobo Libra H2O
  2. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021)
  3. Kobo Elipsa
  4. PocketBook Touch HD 3
  5. Kobo Nia
  6. Kobo Sage
  7. Onyx Boox Poke 3
  8. Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4
  9. Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Plus
  10. reMarkable 2

a Kobo Libra H2O e-reader sitting on a desk.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Boasting an incredible range of features, the Kobo Libra H2O is the best e-reader, for most people.

Best Overall
Kobo Libra H2O

As its name implies, the Kobo Libra H20 is waterproof, with an IPX8 rating that allows it to be submerged in 6.56 feet of water for up to 60 minutes at a time. Given its 5.67 x 6.26 x .31-inch dimensions and 6.77-ounce weight, I was surprised by the strength of its build quality.

Its seven-inch, 300-PPI (Pixels Per Inch) display and even front lighting with adjustable color temperature controls, make the H20 easy on the eyes. Its readability is enhanced by a large selection of fonts, font sizes, and weights. Its physical buttons and touch interface make for easy navigation. A built-in accelerometer detects when you change the device’s orientation and adjusts the H20’s display accordingly. This makes using the e-reader with your left or right hand a pleasure.

The Kobo bookstore features over three million titles and offers an all-you-can-read monthly subscription service. Additionally, the H20’s OverDrive functionality makes it possible to borrow digital books and periodicals from your local library. Finally, there’s Pocket: a free-to-use read-it-later service that allows you to send articles and long-form content to peruse later. Click the extension and the content will be synced to your Kobo device in an e-reader-friendly format.

Pros

  • Crisp, bright display

  • Waterproof

  • Wide selection of paid/unpaid reading material available

Cons

  • Charges via Micro USB

A Kobo Nia e-reader sitting on a white tabletop.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Kobo Nia offers most of the features of the Kobo Libra H2O, in a more compact and affordable package.

Best Value
Kobo Nia

While it isn’t waterproof and lacks our Best Overall pick’s physical buttons and adjustable colored front lighting, the Kobo Nia provides a very similar user experience.

Weighing a mere 38 ounces and measuring 6.20 x 4.40 x 0.36-inches in size, the Nia is one of the smallest and lightest e-readers around. Its six-inch, 212-PP1 touchscreen display can’t match the sharpness of text offered by our Best Overall pick or the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. However, I found I could read on the Nia for an hour at a time, without any eyestrain.

The Nia offers the same access to the Kobo Store, book subscription service, Overdrive and Pocket as the Kobo H2O. It’s difficult to imagine running out of things to read when using this device.

Pros

  • Light, comfortable to hold

  • Provides paid and unpaid reading options

  • User-friendly interface

Cons

  • Not waterproof

  • Low display resolution

A Kindle Paperwhite sits on an outdoor table, against an overcast sky.
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is our pick for the overall best Kindle you can buy.

Best Kindle
Kindle Paperwhite

If you prefer (or are locked into) Amazon’s ecosystem of reading and audio content, the Kindle Paperwhite is for you.

The 2021 (11th generation) Kindle Paperwhite is slightly larger and about an ounce heavier than its predecessor. However, it’s still light enough to hold with one hand, for a good, long reading session.

Thanks to its larger dimensions and thinner screen bezels, the 2021 Paperwhite is able to accommodate a 6.8-inch E Ink display: a significant upgrade over the six-inch display that had been the signature of the product line since 2012. Text and grayscale images appear crisp, thanks to the new display’s 300 dots per inch resolution and consistent side lighting, made possible by 17 strategically-placed LEDs.

For the first time, Paperwhite readers have the ability to change the color temperature of the device’s lighting which can help reduce eye strain (in my experience) and help to diminish the amount of blue light that you’re exposed to. All of this extra display real estate and lighting are backed up by a faster processor than the last version.

Charging has gotten faster, too, thanks to Amazon’s sunsetting of Micro USB in favor of a USB-C charging port. What hasn’t changed is that 2021 Paperwhite owners still have access to Amazon’s unrivaled collection of e-books, comics, newspapers, and periodicals as well as Audible audiobooks and podcasts. Additionally, it’s still tough enough to survive casual abuse of being knocked around in a book bag and other similar misadventures. And, as with the 2018 edition Paperwhite, the latest iteration has been awarded an IPX8 rating. This means that it will continue to function, even if it’s left in close to seven feet of freshwater, for up to an hour.

At the time this review was written, Amazon offered two different versions of the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite. The premium version of the device called the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition (available at Amazon), comes with 32GB of internal storage, a light sensor to automatically change the device’s display brightness to match exterior lighting conditions, and 10-Watt wireless Qi charging. The entry-level Paperwhite comes with packing 8GB of storage and forgoes the Signature Edition’s light sensor and Qi charging capabilities.

It’s our opinion that most people should invest in the entry-level Paperwhite. While 8GB isn’t a lot of storage if you’re using a laptop full of software, it’s more than enough space to store thousands of e-books. Additionally, for a device that can go for weeks between charges, wireless charging isn’t so much a convenience as it is an absurdity. Charging your Kindle’s battery via USB-C is faster and more efficient.

Pros

  • Large, crisp display

  • Massive content catalog

  • USB-C charging

Cons

  • None we can think of

How We Tested E-Readers

Two Kobo e-readers sitting on a desktop with a pair of glasses and a set of AirPods.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We spent weeks using each e-reader in this roundup in order to get a feel for how they performed.

The Tester

I’m Séamus Bellamy, the Updates Editor at Reviewed. I'm a voracious reader who doesn’t have space in my home for more than a handful of paperbacks. Over the past five years, I’ve relied on e-readers to satisfy my passion for reading. I’m familiar with most of the e-readers on the market and, in the past, have reviewed them for multiple publications.

The Tests

The best way to test an e-reader is by reading—a lot. I spent several weeks with each device, using them to PDF files, trashy mystery masterpieces published in a number of e-book file types, digital comic books, and image files, in an attempt to get a feel for how each one performed. I also noted the amount of content that could be accessed by each e-reader.

I paid attention to the quality of text displayed on its screen, its refresh rate (how often the device erases the artifacts left on its display from the previous pages you’ve perused), and the effectiveness of its front lighting. I noted how responsive its user interface was.

What You Should Know About E-Readers

If you read for more than a few hours a week or find yourself too distracted by app notifications to settle into a good book, owning an e-reader—rather than downloading an e-reading app on your tablet—is an absolute must.

Most e-readers are designed for one task: the consumption of literature, be it in print or narrated as an audiobook. Some models are smaller and lighter than a tablet, making them more comfortable to hold during long reading sessions. Others, like the reMarkable 2, are as large as an iPad, making them ideal for perusing PDFs or comics. In most cases, an e-reader’s non-reflective display and adjustable front lighting make it possible to use them in any lighting condition.

E-readers are also great when it comes to battery life. Even with moderate use, a tablet, like an iPad, needs to be charged, often. Depending on your reading habits, you may be able to go for weeks at a time before your e-reader’s battery requires charging.

What’s The Difference Between a Kindle and an E-Reader?

Nothing! Kindle is simply the brand name of the line of e-readers that Amazon sells. The Amazon Kindle is arguably the best-known e-reader brand in North America. Think of it along the same vein as when someone asks for a Kleenex, they’re actually asking for a tissue.

Only Amazon Kindle devices and Amazon’s Kindle apps for iOS, Android and computers can read the e-books you’ve purchased from the Amazon Kindle Store (with a few exceptions that we’ll talk about, in a moment). This is because Amazon’s e-book files are protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management).

This isn’t a practice that’s unique to Amazon, however: most e-books from Barnes & Noble or Kobo’s digital stores, for example, are protected also protected by DRM. So, they can only be read using Barnes & Noble’s or Kobo’s hardware and apps, respectively.

Where Can I Get E-Books That Aren’t Protected by DRM?

If you’re like me, you believe that the digital content you own should be able to be used in any way you see fit. Investing in DRM-free e-books allows you to do this, as they can be read on most any e-reader, tablet or computer.

To get you started, here are a few outlets that offer DRM-free content:

  • Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg offers over 60,000 free, DRM-free e-books to download and read. You’ll find that most of the e-books here are books and publications that are old enough to have entered the public domain. If you love the classics, this is a great place to start.
  • Rakuten Kobo: The Kobo bookstore offers a small number of DRM-free e-books that can be downloaded from their website to be sideloaded onto an e-reader.
  • Amazon Kindle Store: While the majority of e-books you can download from the Kindle Store are DRM-protected, there are a few exceptions. A number of publishers, such as Baen and Tor, for example, have requested that their books be sold by Amazon, without Digital Rights Management measures in place. Amazon doesn’t make it easy to find their selection of DRM-free titles. Finding books through Amazon without DRM protection in place takes time and research.
  • SmashWords: SmashWords is an e-book distribution site that features a huge selection of titles from well-known publishers as well as self-published material. It’s possible to buy books from most genres from their website.

E-Reader Terms to Know

There are a few terms we discuss in this guide that may not be familiar to you but are important to know when shopping for an e-reader:

E Ink Carta or electronic paper display: Types of low-powered displays often found in an e-reader. Small electrical charges are used to move microcapsules towards and away from the surface of the display, forming text and images. The content shown on most e-reader displays is monochromatic. These displays consume far less power than traditional laptop and tablet displays do.

Ghosting: The outline of letters and images leftover from reading previous pages of a book.

Refresh Rate: How often an e-reader clears its display of all content before loading new content. The more frequent the refresh, the less ghosting you’ll see.

Front lighting: A ring of LEDs embedded in an e-reader’s display bezel.

Sideloading: Using a computer to transfer content to an e-reader.

DPI and PPI: Dots Per Inch and Pixels Per Inch: Measures of an e-reader’s display resolution.

What About Color E-readers?

E-readers with color displays are a relatively new development. We’ll review them as the technology matures.


Other E-Readers We Tested

Product image of Kobo Elipsa
Kobo Elipsa

The Kobo Elipsa (32GB model tested) with its 10.3" front-lit display, is the best large-screen e-reader around. The fact that it can take handwritten notes is just icing on the cake. Currently, the Elipsa is only available as part of a set that includes a protective leather and rubber case and a battery-powered stylus.

The Elipsa offers access to over three million books via the Kobo Store, as well as the ability to peruse saved web content via Pocket or library books using Kobo's OverDrive service. It's game-on for side-loaded content as well: the Elipsa is compatible with 15 different file types. If you want to read it, this device can likely handle it.

Despite its large size, the Elipsa weighs just 13 ounces, making it comfortable to hold and read for an extended period of time. However, its protective case doubles this weight. But that's OK: while you can hold it like you might a magazine, this is a device designed to be cradled in the lap or used on a tabletop.

During testing, I found the Elipsa to be very responsive: page turns and display refreshes were pain-free. I was pleased to find that the Elipsa is no slouch in the note-taking department, either. Using the device's active (a nerdy way of saying that the stylus is battery-powered) stylus, I found that its pen latency was a very close second to what users of the reMarkable 2 enjoy. You’ll be glad this is the case as you use the stylus to highlight and markup passages in PDFs or ebooks. The Elipsa can handle hand-written notebooks as well. User notebooks can be synced to Dropbox for reference on other devices.

That said, there is considerable room for improvement. For starters, the Elipsa isn't waterproof: use it in the bathtub to your peril. There are two buttons that allow users to highlight content or erase pen input that are built into the shaft of the Elipsa’s stylus. These buttons can be frustratingly easy to press by mistake.

There are some software issues as well. Hand occlusion (the way that a touchscreen device ignores the palm of your hand while accepting input from your fingers or a stylus) while writing on the Elipsa is spotty at times, making it occasionally impossible for the device to recognize stylus input. I was also less than impressed with the limited number of templates available to write and draw on. Fortunately, all of these irritants can be corrected with software updates—an area that Kobo has always excelled in.

Pros

  • Bright, crisp display

  • Access to a massive amount of reading material

  • Dropbox syncing

  • Digital note taking capabilities

Cons

  • Note taking software needs work

  • Heavy when used with included case

  • Stylus buttons easy to push by accident

Product image of PocketBook InkPad 3 Pro
PocketBook InkPad 3 Pro

The PocketBook Inkpad 3 Pro comes with a built-in bookstore, its offerings are, to be blunt, are pretty awful. However, it could be a good option for anyone comfortable with sideloading content from their personal digital library of DRM-free e-books.

I liked its bright 7.8-inch 300 PPI display and front lighting controls. However, I did notice some significant ghosting (barely visible letters and images from the last page you read, that are there when you ‘turn’ to the next page of an e-book) between refreshes. The Inkpad 3 Pro’s reading software makes navigating a large collection of e-books easy and provides a number of features that allow for a customized reading experience. Users can use a row of physical buttons or its touchscreen to interact with the device.

The Inkpad 3 Pro is waterproof. However, I have concerns about its build quality: I found that its plastic body routinely cracked and popped.

Pros

  • Waterproof

  • Excellent e-book management

  • Crisp, bright 7.8" display

Cons

  • Underwhelming digital bookstore

  • Questionable build quality

  • poorly placed physical buttons

Product image of Kobo Sage
Kobo Sage

You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Kobo Sage for our Best Overall pick, the Kobo Libra H20. They both boast an eight-inch front-lit display with adjustable color temperature. Their design language is similar, too: both e-readers come packing a pair of navigation buttons built into a large bezel, which makes using the buttons and holding either of the devices, quite comfortable. The Sage is waterproof and offers all of the reading features that the Libra H20 does. However, the Sage does a party trick that the Libra H20 can’t match: it can be used to create digital, handwritten notes and document annotations.

Unfortunately, in order to do so, you’ll need to purchase a Kobo Stylus, which adds to the overall cost of ownership for the Sage. Additionally, I was disappointed to note a considerable amount of input lag while writing notes or drawing on the Sage’s display. This, along with its lack of writing templates and the fact that its note-taking functionality is hidden away in a submenu, makes it difficult to recommend over the Libra H20, or Kobo’s more capable digital notepad, the Elipsa.

Pros

  • Bright, crisp display

  • Pocket and Overdrive access

  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Stylus sold separately

  • noticeable input lag

Product image of Boox Poke3
Boox Poke3

At 153 x 107 x 6.8mm in size and weighing a mere 150 grams, The Poke3 is small and light enough to use, one-handed, for hours at a time. Its crisp, six-inch 300 PPI display, will make you want to use it, often. In truth, it's more of a tablet than an e-reader, as it runs a deeply modified version of Android OS. The built-in e-reader app that the Poke3 ships with is great for readers who prefer to sideload their books. However, its companion bookstore is less than impressive, offering a very small miscellany of copyright-free content and works from lesser-known authors

Fortunately, as the Poke3 is an Android device, it is possible to install the Google Play store. Doing so gives the device's users access to their favorite e-reader services by downloading apps from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, for example. However, installing Google Play is not a straightforward process, even after following a Youtube tutorial created by Boox, I had to make several attempts before the store showed up on the Poke3's home screen and allowed me to sign in. What's more, while being able to download reading apps from the Play Store, makes for a better reading experience, the fact that one can also install games and social media apps, along with the pop-up notifications that come with them, could make your reading experience on this device less immersive.

Pros

  • Light and compact

  • Crisp, bright 6" display

  • Charges via USB-C

Cons

  • Not waterproof

  • Google Play Store installation can be difficult

Product image of Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4
Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4

With its six-inch 300PPI E-Ink Carta HD display, The Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4 is smaller and lighter than most of the devices in this guide.

During testing, I found that text on the GlowLight 4 was crisp and easy to read under all lighting conditions, thanks to the device's adjustable front lighting. That the lighting's color temperature can be tweaked made reading a book on it all the more pleasant.

Despite its readability, I was aggravated by the fact that the GlowLight 4 display is recessed under the device's wide plastic bezel—something I would expect from a last-generation device or, at least, a less expensive one. During testing, I found that dust and small pieces of debris easily became wedged between the bezel and display. That said, this large bezel does serve a purpose. You'll find page-turn buttons embedded into both sides of it, making it a reasonable option for left or right-handed readers.

Like all of the e-readers in this guide, the GlowLight 4 is designed to go for weeks at a time before you'll need to recharge it. When the time comes to top off its battery, the device's built-in USB-C port allows users to do so, quickly.

Unfortunately, while it has a number of redeeming qualities unless you already own a large library of Barnes & Noble e-books, I can't recommend this device to most people. For around the same price point, there are a number of other more capable e-readers out there, the Kindle Paperwhite among them.

Unlike the Paperwhite or some of the e-readers Kobo offers, the GlowLight 4 isn't waterproof. Nor does it provide access to the extensive collection of books and periodicals that Amazon and Kobo devices do. And, even if a significant portion of your electronic book library consists of side-loaded files stored on your computer, the GlowLight 4 is still less than ideal, as it only supports two file types: PDFs and EPUB.

Product image of Nook GlowLight Plus
Nook GlowLight Plus

If I had to use one word to describe the Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Plus, it would be ‘slow.’

While setting it up for the first time, it took forever to turn on. It took ages to find my WiFi network and a long time to create a user account. The device lets you use Gmail or Facebook accounts to sign in, but when I tried both, neither allowed me to continue with the setup process. The e-reader's snail’s pace continued once the setup was complete.
While typing with its on-screen keyboard, It took so long for what I had written to register that I was left wondering whether or not the e-reader’s operating system had accepted my input.

However, the GlowlLight Plus isn’t without its charms. Its library management system makes it easy to categorize and keep track of any books on the device. Barnes and Noble’s Nook Bookstore has a very respectable selection of reading material to choose from and it’s possible to sideload books from other sources onto the device from a computer. Whatever you choose to load on it, you’ll find that the GlowLight Plus’ crisp text and excellent color temperature-controllable front lighting make reading a pleasure—provided you can stand how long it takes to move on to the next page in your book.

Pros

  • Decent digital bookstore

  • Good e-book management

  • excellent lighting color temperature controls

Cons

  • Software slow to respond to most interface commands

Product image of ReMarkable 2
ReMarkable 2

If you read a lot of large-format books, like academic texts or PDFs, the reMarkable 2 is for you—with a few significant caveats.

When I tested it, the reMarkable 2 was only capable of opening two file types: ePub-formatted e-books and PDF files. This limitation could, for anyone that wants to use the device to view other file types such as Microsoft Word documents or e-books published as a .mobi file, be a deal-breaker. Another knock against it is the fact that it has no front lighting. So, you can only use it when there is enough ambient light to view its large 10.3-inch, 226 PPI display.

That said, the reMarkable 2 offers the best electronic writing experience that I have ever encountered. It was created for note-taking, drawing, and annotating documents. Those PDFs and ePub files? You can write on and highlight sections of them to your heart’s content.

Using its included stylus to scribble on its display nails the feel of writing on paper. There’s no noticeable input lag—a technical feat made possible, in part, by having no front lighting to get in the way of the device’s digitizer. There are plenty of pen types and line options to choose from, making it easy to customize the device to your scribbling needs.

If scads of handwritten notes are a part of your everyday life, you’ll love this thing. Those looking for a more substantial e-reading experience should buy something else.

Pros

  • Large, light and solidly built

  • Offers a superior digital note-taking experience

  • Allows for e-book and PDF annotations

Cons

  • No front lighting

  • Limited file compatibility

  • All reading material must be sideloaded

Meet the tester

Séamus Bellamy

Séamus Bellamy

Senior Editor

@SeamusBellamy

Séamus Bellamy is Reviewed's resident expert on travel-related technology.

See all of Séamus Bellamy's reviews

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