Best ebook readers for 2013
Which is the best ebook reader for the year ahead? We’ve seen all the latest Kindle models pass through our Labs in the past month, plus a selection of serious contenders such as the Kobo Glo and the Nook.
With so many products vying for your attention, from E Ink devices to full-colour tablets, which one should you buy? We’ve rounded up the best models on the market to help you decide.
Amazon Kindle HD 8.9in
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9in immediately stands out from the ebook reader crowd thanks to its unusual size. It’s also notable for its exceptional screen, packing in a super-sharp 1,920 x 1,200 resolution that’s perfect for books and movies alike.
Like its 7in sibling (see below), the Kindle Fire HD 8.9in runs Amazon’s own customised version of Android, which is great if you’re chiefly interested in reading books and streaming videos, and Amazon’s own Appstore provides a decent selection of games and productivity tools.
The 16GB version costs £229 – if you don’t mind seeing adverts on the lock-screen. The ad-free edition is £239, with the 32GB model costing an extra £30. If you’re taken by the Kindle Fire HD’s distinctive size and its superb display, it’s good value.
Read our full Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9in review
The Kobo Arc is marketed as an ebook reader, but despite the branding it’s much more flexible than the Kindle Fire HD (see below). It runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich – only slightly tweaked by Kobo – and comes complete with Google Play. Although Kobo’s reading and ebook store apps remain front and centre, there’s nothing to stop you installing any Android app or game – you could even use it to run the Amazon Kindle app. It’s competitive on price, costing £160 for the 16GB version and a mere £190 for the 32GB, and the hardware is as good as the other ebook reader tablets as well, with an 800 x 1,280 IPS display and a dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470 CPU.
Read our full Kobo Arc review
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
If you want a little more from your ebook reader than only books, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD has you covered. It has a 1,280 x 800 full-colour display, stereo speakers and 16GB of storage, plus it gives you access to movies, apps, games and music as well as the usual Amazon fare of books, newspapers and magazines. It runs a custom version of Google Android 4, but it’s best to think of Kindle Fire HD as an ebook reader with added oomph rather than a straight tablet, since the selection of apps in the Amazon Appstore isn’t as strong as Google Play’s.
Read our full Kindle Fire HD review
A tablet-based ebook reader like the Kindle Fire HD, the Nook HD sets itself apart from the competition as the only 7in device around with a 1,440 x 900 display. It’s the highest resolution compact tablet on the market, and combines this excellent screen with an attractive, easy-to-use Android 4-based user interface.
Read our full Nook HD review
Amazon’s cheapest Kindle yet sells for only £59 and it’s a remarkably competent product. It’s light and robust, with full access to Amazon’s wealth of ebook content via the built-in Wi-Fi adapter, and a fantastic E Ink screen that’s readable just about anywhere. There’s no integrated light, and no touchscreen, but these are the only chinks in its armour.
Read our full Kindle review
The Kindle Paperwhite wasn’t the first ebook reader to hit the market with an integrated light for reading in the dark, but it’s the best. Four tiny LEDs embedded in the lower bezel cast an eerily even light over the screen, making it perfect for reading in bed or a cosy dark corner. Add Amazon’s traditional strengths – good content, slick performance and a new, high resolution screen – and you have a winner on your hands.
Read our full Kindle Paperwhite review
The price is the most enticing thing about the Kobo Glo. With its built-in light, Wi-Fi and high resolution, 758 x 1,024 display, it competes head-on with the Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight (see below), yet it’s £9 cheaper than both. We’re big fans of the user interface, which is attractive and very easy to get to grips with.
Read our full Kobo Glo review
Kobo’s compact reader has a 5in E Ink display, making it the most pocketable reader around. It’s also very cheap at £60, and yet isn’t short on features. It has a 600 x 800 E Ink display, a touchscreen, and Wi-Fi provides the ability to buy ebooks on the device itself. Great for anyone with particularly small pockets.
Read our full Kobo mini review
Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight
This nook was the first ebook reader to have a built-in light and we liked it a lot when we first reviewed it. It’s now been joined by the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo (see above), but it’s still a strong challenger and the price of £109 is competitive.
Read our full Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight review