With most homes now owning at least one tablet PC, it's tempting to assume that e-Readers have gone the way of the PDA.
Why both buying a tablet that can only do one thing – read books – when there are other tablets that can play games, stream movies, send emails as well as read books? It's an easy mistake to make, but it turns out that tablets are horrible for reading books.
The biggest reason is the screen technology used on e-Readers. They all vary, but all are based on the concept of electronic ink, and it's far less taxing on our poor eyeballs than the harsh LCD screens of most tablets.
It's also perfectly readable in bright daylight, unlike the unreadable screens of most tablets, making e-Readers perfect for a spot of reading down the beach or by the pool.
Finally, e-Readers don't need expensive processors to spit out 3D graphics, resulting in much, must lower price points than standard tablets. Well, they didn't – after testing today's most popular e-Readers, it seems many of them want to take on the tablet market.
To test, each e-reader was first connected to our test network, before an account was created, to check how easy the setup process is. With many e-Readers intended for older audiences who may not be computer-savvy, ease of use is a key purchasing factor.
We then browsed the catalogue of each device to see the price and availability of each one's library. Finally we tested the screen, looking at readability under direct sunlight and in darker environments, viewing angle, and overall reading comfort.
Here are the 6 best ebook readers you can buy today.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
The original Kindle was the first e-Reader to capture the attention of book worms around the globe. Suddenly they had access to their entire library wherever they went, in the convenient form of a 6-inch tablet.
The Paperwhite is a significant upgrade to the original Kindle, with several key features that make it better than ever.
The most noticeable difference is the new touch screen – no longer do users have to slowly navigate with the clunky switches of the past.
It makes a huge difference to the ease of use, and we were set up and ready to go within minutes. We did encounter one difficulty though – it doesn't support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so had to switch our router to a slower, older spec, although most people won't have to worry about this.
Once ready to go, the new screen quality was very impressive. Improved contrast makes it seem brighter, and a faster processor makes page changes quicker. It's now possible to highlight certain words to find out more about them, such as character names, as well as share key quotes to social networks. There's also an excellent backlight for midnight reading.
As one of the most affordable and easy to use e-Readers on the market, the Paperwhite gets our nod for newcomers to e-Reading.
- Read our Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review
This sexy little red number is the only e-Reader clever enough to include a cover, protecting the screen when it's rattling around in the bottom or your backpack or handbag.
Opening it reveals a true e-Reader screen, using electronic ink to deliver the kind of screen that is kind on the eyes over long viewing sessions.
The 758 x 1024 resolution makes text clear and easy to read, though it lacks the contrast of Amazon's Paperwhite. Night-readers will also miss any form of built-in backlight, though it's possible to buy snap-on lights for a few dollars.
Making it even easier to use, a range of buttons are included on the bottom edge, despite the screen also being touch-capacitive. Newbies can't miss the central home button, so they'll never get lost navigating a mess of screens, unlike some of the more complex tablets.