Best ereader 2022: top ebook readers for reading and note taking

best ereader Amazon Kindle on a red background
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Editor's Note: December 2022

It's been an interesting year for E Ink tablets, with both Kobo and Kindle getting new models, as well as some sensational note-taking ereaders from Amazon and Chinese brand Onyx. The competition, however, is hottest in the budget and mid-range ereader market, with the 2022 Kindle competing with the Kobo Clara 2E.

Sharmishta Sarkar, APAC Managing Editor, TechRadar

Buying one of the best ereaders is essential for avid book fans. An ereader may look like a traditional tablet, but it's actually very different. 

A dedicated reading device enhances your experience, thanks to how it's designed. Many ereaders use an E Ink display that differs from a conventional full-color LCD or OLED panel, avoiding any blue light issues that you may get elsewhere. Such a display also offers reduced reflectivity, so the screen is glare-free and can replicate the textured look of paper, proving easier on the eye.

E Ink screens also use less power than conventional displays, so the battery life on an ereader is far superior. Some also include adjustable hue and (if backlit or front lit) brightness controls to help your eyes and extend battery life.

The most popular ereaders are Amazon's Kindle range but they aren't the only brand. There are also Kobo ereaders and models from Onyx and PocketBook. 

While considering one of the best ereaders, read up on the best tablets and the best Kindles to see if one of these is better suited for your needs. From there, check out our ranking to find what's an ideal choice for your situation.

The best ereaders 2022

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best ereader Kobo Libra 2 in white on a table with books

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The best ereader overall

Specifications

Screen size: 7-inch
Screen type: E Ink Carta 1200
Storage: 32GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 215g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: No
Battery life: up to six weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money
+
32GB storage
+
Audiobook support

Reasons to avoid

-
Erratic trickle charging of battery

Despite newer models on the market, we still the Kobo Libra 2 is the best overall ereader you can get because it offers great bang for your buck. We gave the Kobo Libra 2 full marks in our review, which should really say all you need to know about the ereader and we haven't changed our minds since testing it in 2021. It's a fantastic all-around champion that should be your first port of call when buying an E Ink device.

While the snappy and super responsive E Ink Carta 1200 screen is now available on several ereaders, the 7-inch size, in our books, is the sweet spot – not too small and not too big. The 1,500mAh battery will last you weeks, and its charging, which uses USB-C, is quicker to power.

All the other great features that make Kobo ereaders stand apart from the Kindles are here as well. OverDrive support to let you borrow library books (yes, this remains despite the phone app being moved over to Libby), Pocket integration so you can read saved web articles, extensive file format support, and a very streamlined interface. More importantly, it's got Bluetooth connectivity (the first Kobo ereader to do so) so you can listen to audiobooks, and ups the storage from a mere 8GB on the older models to 32GB.

It does all this without costing too much more than the Libra H2O that it's replaced. It's in no way 'cheap', but take all the upgrades into account and the value for money here is unbeatable.

Read our full Kobo Libra 2 review

The Kobo Clara 2E positioned between a speaker, fake plant, two books and a coffee mug. On the ereaders display is an image of the cover of the current book being read on the device.

(Image credit: Future)
The best eco-friendly mid-range ereader

Specifications

Screen size: 6-inch
Screen type: E Ink Carta 1200
Storage: 16GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 171g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: No
Battery life: Up to four weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Audiobook support
+
Waterproof
+
Made with recycled plastics

Reasons to avoid

-
Inconsistent battery life

We liked the older Kobo Clara HD as the best budget ereader, but there's an updated version and it keeps the Earth's health in mind while bringing you all the best bits of Kobo's ecosystem. 

Retaining its 6-inch size, the Kobo Clara 2E gets the latest E Ink Carta 1200 screen tech for a better screen, plus doubles the internal storage space to 16GB. Where the predecessor had no waterproofing, the 2E carries an IPX8 rating, so you can read in the bath or the pool and not worry too much. 

Interestingly, Kobo says the body is made out of recycled plastic, 85% of it to be precise, and 10% of which were ocean-bound plastics. 

Other updates include the now standard USB-C charging port and Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to audiobooks (albeit only those purchased from the Kobo Store).  All the other usual Kobo perks are here: adjustable light temperature, OverDrive support for library books, wide font and file support and a very streamlined user interface that makes it easy to navigate through the device's features.

While we found the battery life a little inconsistent, it could just have been teething issues on our review device only, or easily fixable via a firmware update. Overall, though, it's a huge upgrade over the older Clara HD and worth every penny if you're after a very portable and capable ereader.

Read our full Kobo Clara 2E review

Amazon Kindle 2022 with a book cover displayed on screen

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Best ereader for tight budgets

Specifications

Screen size: 6-inch
Screen type: E Ink Carta 1200
Storage: 16GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 171g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: No
Battery life: Up to four weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Well priced
+
Good battery life
+
Much-improved screen

Reasons to avoid

-
6-inch screen can be small for some
-
Lacks grip without case
-
Reliant on Amazon services

It took Amazon about five years to update the base Kindle model, but what an absolutely fantastic upgrade the 2022 edition is! A different blue color than the usual black is an option and, like the Kobo Clara 2E, is partially made from recycled plastics. 

Design refresh aside, the screen is way better now than the older models, with the latest E Ink Carta 1200 tech adding snappier responses, clarity and, more importantly, a 300ppi resolution (a massive jump from the older 167ppi) that really makes everything on screen pop. The display even supports a dark mode.

However, there's still no way to change light temperature here, and it also misses out on any kind of waterproofing. We also found that the smooth rear panel makes the 2022 Kindle a little insecure in the hand, and you'd likely want a case to get some grip. Plus the 6-inch screen could be too small for anyone who likes the font size on the larger side, which means you're turning pages quite often. Still, the small size makes it very portable indeed.

While we think the waterproofing and the additional features of any Kobo ereader make the Clara 2E a more worthwhile option for a small-sized ereader, the Kindle is cheaper in comparison and it would be remiss of us to leave it out of this buying guide.

Read our full Amazon Kindle (2022) review

best ereader Amazon Kindle Paperwhite next to a potted plant

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The ereader choice for those within the Amazon ecosystem

Specifications

Screen size: 6.8-inch
Screen type: E ink
Storage: 8GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 205g
Backlight: yes
Touchscreen: yes
Wi-Fi: yes
3G: yes
Battery life: up to ten weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic display
+
Excellent reading experience

Reasons to avoid

-
Dull design
-
Bit pricey

The best Kindle right now is also the latest one: 2021's upgrade on the Kindle Paperwhite feels like a big jump up from its predecessor, making it the first port of call for people who want an Amazon ereader. 

It now has a larger display being 6.8-inches, and this is a big selling point as the previous model was a little on the small side. Even better, thinner borders means less plastic to hold onto or look at. The screen offers a resolution of 300ppi with a glare-free display that means you can read it in bright sunlight without a problem.

In addition, it's speedier than its predecessor. Amazon promises up to 20% faster page turns than before and such differences soon add up. Charging is faster too thanks to USB-C support, with up to 10 weeks of battery life possible here (an improvement over the older version).

Elsewhere, an adjustable warm light means you can change the screen shade from white to amber and get things just how suits you. Also, it's waterproof with an IPX8 rating so it's perfect for using in the bath or while relaxing in the pool on holiday. 

It's a little pricey for a Kindle but it's a worthy investment. It really does make a huge difference compared to cheaper ereaders. 

Read our full Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review

best ereader Amazon Kindle Oasis on a step

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A great ereader for a luxurious reading experience

Specifications

Screen size: 7-inch
Screen type: Carta E Ink
Storage: 8GB/32GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 188g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: Yes
Battery life: up to six weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Premium reading experience
+
Adjustable backlight
+
Ergonomic design

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

If money is no object and you want the most luxurious reading experience a digital ebook reader can give you, then it doesn't get any better than the 2019 version of Amazon's Kindle Oasis. While it might be getting a bit long in the tooth, it's still our pick for the most premium ereader you can get today.

Despite an aluminum chassis, the Oasis is lighter than the plastic-bound Kobo Libra 2 listed above and its IPX8 waterproofing means it can easily handle an accidental dunk in the bath, the pool or the kitchen sink. The backlight can be adjusted from white to warmer yellow hues to reduce eye strain, and it can even be scheduled to become warmer at bedtime (say, 9:30pm for example).

There's also the usual Kindle Oasis features we saw in the previous generation. There's a high-quality and large 7-inch display with E Ink technology that makes words on the page crisp and clear, and a 'ridge' on one side of the sleek metal body that has been designed for easy and comfortable single-hand use. In addition, the buttons to turn pages are within easy reach of the thumb even if you have small mitts and have the smoothest performance of any asymmetric ereader on the market that sports these buttons.

There's also plenty of storage space onboard, with 8GB being the starting point, but you can get a 32GB version of the Oasis if you've got (or planning on having) a large digital library. The base model comes with Wi-Fi enabled, but there is an LTE option as well, which allows you to download ebooks from the Kindle Store no matter where you are.

Read our full Amazon Kindle Oasis review

best ereader Onyx Boox Nova Air C on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
A premium color-screen ereader that's also a tablet

Specifications

Screen size: 7.8-inch
Screen type: Carta Mobius
Storage: 32GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 235g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: No
Battery life: up to four weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Flexible ereader
+
Sleek design

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Dimmer E Ink

If you can't decide between a tablet or an ereader, the Onyx Boox Nova Air C offers both. Due to its E Ink-based refresh rate, it's not perfect when watching YouTube videos or typing up documents in Google Docs, but it’s certainly possible.

Its strength lies with its extensive support for Android and the Google Play Store, so you have plenty of options for how to get ebooks. It's thin too, being thinner than a paperback novella and only a little heavier than a typical smartphone. 

A dimmer display than competitors makes it a little difficult to use in dim environments, but a two-tone backlighting system helps as needed. A stylus is included too for any time you need to sketch out a design or jot down some notes. It's a curious mix of a bit of everything while not quite mastering it all, but it's worth considering.

Read our full Onyx Boox Nova Air C review

A PocketBook Era ereader on a table with some books and spectacles

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The fastest PocketBook around

Specifications

Screen size: 7-inch
Screen type: Carta 1200
Storage: 16/64GB
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 228g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: No
Battery life: up to eight weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Great display
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Europe only
-
Low on-screen contrast

The PocketBook Era is the best PocketBook yet. It looks gorgeous and far nicer than other ereaders. It's heavy but its weight is well-distributed. The 7-inch display looks good with an additional layer on the latest E Ink Carta 1200 display also adding scratch-resistance. Low on-screen contrast is a downside but you learn to live with it.

Elsewhere, the PocketBook Era has a built-in speaker that you'll probably rarely use but we're big fans of its long-lasting battery life. Decent performance is mildly hampered by a clunky interface, but page turns are snappy enough to work well.

This is an attractive looking ereader even if it's flawed and it would be remiss of us to not include it here as an alternate to the likes of the Kobo Libra 2 or the Kindle Oasis. 

Read our full PocketBook Era review

best ebook reader Kobo Elipsa on a desk

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The best ereader for note-taking

Specifications

Screen size: 10.3-inch
Screen type: E Ink Carta 1200
Storage: 32GB
Resolution: 227ppi
Weight: 383g
Front light: Yes
Touchscreen: Yes
Wi-Fi: Yes
4G: No
Battery life: Up to four weeks

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with a stylus
+
Large 10.3-inch touchscreen
+
Excellent handwriting recognition

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Heavy

If you don't really require all the features of the Onyx Boox listed above, you can opt for a larger (10.3-inch) screen E Ink device that's great for note taking. The Kobo Elipsa also comes with a stylus in the box and is a little cheaper (in some markets) than the 7.8-inch color-screen Nova Air C. That screen size, though, makes the Elipsa a little unwieldy.

Not only does it ship with the Kobo Stylus, it also comes and a sleepcover (which has a nook for the pen by the way), so you're not paying for extras.

Despite its headline act of stylus support, the Elipsa is an ereader first and foremost and its large screen size is perfect for comic book and graphic novel fans, but the ability to write on the device and save notes, lists and whatever else you want is a massive plus. You can, in theory, even mark up PDFs, making signing digital documents a slightly easier process too.

Of course, as a Kobo device, it comes with all the features that the company is known for – broad file format support, an excellent UX, and OverDrive, Pocket and Dropbox integration. Honestly, the Elipsa has a lot going for it... if you really are in need of a note-taking, stylus-toting ereader.

Moreover, compared to Onyx devices, Kobo is far more widely available and is a worthy contender for a multi-purpose E Ink tablet, albeit a niche one. And even though Amazon's Kindle Scribe is a worthy opponent, especially since the writing experience is just excellent, the Elipsa offers far more versatility for note-takers than the Scribe. 

Read our full Kobo Elipsa review

A page from a graphic novel displayed on the PocketBook InkPad Color

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For when you need to read in color

Specifications

Screen size: 7.8-inch
Screen type: Kaleido Plus
Storage: 16GB (expandable)
Resolution: 300ppi
Weight: 225g
Front light: yes
Touchscreen: yes
Wi-Fi: yes
3G: no
Battery life: up to 10 days

Reasons to buy

+
Expandable storage (up to 32GB more)
+
Color E Ink screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Sluggish page turns
-
Muted colors

Most mainstream ereaders only have a monochrome screen, with smaller brands like Onyx and PocketBook offering color options. If you're really into comics and graphic novels, it could be worth considering the latter's InkPad Color.

Don't expect to see a lot of color saturation on the screen – this is an issue with the screen tech's limitations and not the fault of the ereader maker – but we think having at least some color is better than reading in black-and-white when the pages aren't meant to be that way.

Admittedly the PocketBooks function best in European markets as access to the built-in store and cloud services aren't available elsewhere, but if you have an existing collection of colorful ebooks purchased from third parties, the InkPad Color will let you easily sideload, including transfering directly from a Dropbox account.

The UX has some quirks that we're not big fans on at TechRadar, but its physical control buttons are a welcome addition. There's also audiobook support available here, as is a 3.5mm jack in case you'd rather plug in your headphones than use a Bluetooth set or a portable speaker.

Like Onyx, PocketBook isn't available in all markets, but you could import it.

Read our full PocketBook InkPad Color review

Kindle or Kobo: which ereader is best for you?

Whether you should opt for a Kindle or a Kobo ereader depends on what you're looking for from your ereader and, more often than not, that decision will be ruled by price and feature set.

Both Amazon and Kobo have premium offerings in the Kindle Oasis and the Sage respectively, but there are budget ones as well. The Paperwhite and the Clara HD are excellent in their own way, with the Kobo Libra 2 offering a stunning middle path with plenty of bang for your buck.

That said, Amazon has the biggest marketshare by far, but Kobo devices have several advantages over their direct competition. So, what should you consider before buying an ereader? Below are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Borrowing books

All Kobo ereaders have OverDrive baked-in, meaning anyone with a public library membership in countries where there is support can borrow ebooks from their local library. Most public libraries in the US, UK, Australia and Singapore now allow members to borrow ebooks, saving you plenty of money in the long term on purchasing books.

That said, the ability to borrow library books is also available on Kindles, but only in the US for now. However, Kindle users can take advantage of Amazon's Prime Reading service – available for free to all Amazon Prime members. There's over a thousand titles to choose from, but you won't own the books you read via the Prime Reading service.

If you're keen on owning all the books you read, then the Kindle Store usually has way more titles on offer than the Kobo Store – primarily due to Amazon's self-publishing platform – but Kobo's Super Points system allows you to save points you earn on purchases for later use (note that these points do have an expiration date).

File support

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing an ereader is the support for different file types. All Kindle ebooks you purchase from Amazon will be in .azw format, although the ereaders will also support .mobi files too. There is no .epub support here and you will need to use a tool like Calibre to convert .epubs to a supported format (either .azw or .mobi).

Kobos, on the other hand, will support most file types (it can handle 15 formats) – with the exception of Amazon's own .azw of course. You'll even be able to read PDFs, text files, comics and graphic novels on your Kobo device, just to name a few.

Fonts

You'll find that the Kindles have some custom fonts designed by Amazon, with Bookerly and Ember being the most popular ones. We found that the list of fonts on Kindles is extensive enough that we didn't find the need to sideload more, but you can if you need to.

Kobo devices also have their own set of default fonts, but there's no rule against sideloading more, including Amazon's own custom ones like Bookerly. And sideloading is as easy as plugging your Kobo ereader into a computer and moving your desired font to the device's fonts folder. 

Audiobooks

Built-in Bluetooth has been a standard feature on Kindles since the 8th-generation models. So if you've got a Kindle model (whether the basic one, the Paperwhite or the Oasis) that was launched in 2016 or later, you'll be able to connect a set of wireless headphones to listen to audiobooks. The caveat here is that the audiobooks needs to have been purchased from the Kindle Store or Audible.

This was where Kobo was languishing behind its competition, but with the launch of the Libra 2 and the Kobo Sage, the company has caught up. Both models have Bluetooth, so you can easily pair wireless headphones to listen to audiobooks. Unfortunately you can't sideload any purchased from third parties – audiobook support on Kobo is only from those purchased from the Kobo Store.

External app support

Goodreads is a great social platform for avid readers and, ever since Amazon acquired the company, there's seamless integration with Kindle devices available on the ereaders. It's a great and easy way to keep tabs on your library. However, integration with other platforms on Kindle devices stops there.

Other than OverDrive support to borrow library books, Kobo also has a partnership with Dropbox. If you happen to have your library saved in a Dropbox folder, you can easily connect the two and transfer files to the device without needing to plug the ereader into your computer – but note that Dropbox accessibility is limited to the more premium Kobo models, having debuted on the Forma.

Then there's Pocket support on the Kobo devices as well. This app allows you to read long-form articles on the web that you save for later, and syncing with your Pocket account will give you access to them all on your Kobo ereader.

So, which one should you buy?

There are some differences between the two platforms when it comes to the user interface as well – the main being the ability to organize your library on the device. While you can create folders and collections on both Kindle and Kobo devices, you can only organize ebooks you've purchased from the Kindle Store on an Amazon device. If you've added books you've purchased from elsewhere, they will sit in the main library but you will not be able to move them to a folder.

On the other hand, everything you have stored on your Kobo device can be organized as you see fit.

Pretty much everything else about the two platforms is competitive, including pricing, so the choice of device ultimately rests on whether you'd like to borrow library books or if you're a Prime member, what file format the vast majority of your existing library is, and whether you'd like to listen to audiobooks when you're not reading.

At the end, you won't go wrong with either a Kindle or a Kobo, with both offering their own set of pros and cons.

What is the difference between an ereader and a tablet?

If you already own a tablet – either an iPad or an Android device – do you really need another device to read digital books on? Perhaps not, but there are a few advantages an ereader offers that you won't get with a tablet.

1. Battery life
Ebooks readers use far less power than a tablet, allowing manufacturers to claim days, if not weeks, of battery life. And every single model listed above offers at least a few days of battery if you're an avid reader, which gets pushed to a couple of weeks at least if you're a casual reader. With tablets, you'll be doing a lot of other things besides reading, and they would likely need topping up every day.

2. E Ink technology
As mentioned above, every ereader on the market uses an E Ink screen with a matte finish, unlike the shiny reflective displays on tablets. This makes it easier to use ereaders in bright sunshine, which can be a problem with some backlit tablet screens.

3. Blue light filter
While dark mode has become quite common in recent times and many modern electronic screens automatically adjust their displays depending on ambient lighting, there's no filter to reduce sleep-disrupting blue light. Ereaders, however, use front lights with a white to yellow hue that's a lot better for the eyes (and your sleep pattern) as compared to phones and tablets.

4. Affordable and convenient
There are a few other reasons to consider an ereader over a tablet: they're typically smaller and lighter, with thicker bezels so you can hold them comfortably while reading. And they're also typically cheaper – the most expensive ereaders (like the 3G version of the Kindle Oasis or the Kobo Forma) cost as much as a budget tablet. While you'll likely get more bang for your buck with a multipurpose device, you'll need to contend with limited battery life and a bright screen that's not quite the best option for reading digital books.

What are note-taking ereaders?

There's a different class of E Ink tablets that are designed specifically for note taking. These devices typically have bigger screens – 10.3 inches is quite common – and can be used with a stylus. The most popular digital note-taker like this is perhaps the ReMarkable 2, but others like the Onyx Boox Max 3 and the Kobo Elipsa are a little more versatile.

The latter two actually allow you to read ebooks and annotate as you go, while you need to jump through a few hoops to get ebooks loaded onto the ReMarkable as it's primarily a note taker and not an ereader.

It's easy to argue that tablets from Samsung and Apple are perhaps far more useful than E Ink digital note takers, but if you don't need a multimedia device, then the better battery life and easy-on-eyes screen of a dedicated research device like the Onyx Boox Note Air and Kobo Elipsa might make a lot more sense for some users.

Why buy an ereader?

According to a 2014 report from the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning, we've trained our eyes to skim and dart on screens (thank you, internet), constantly hunting for specific bits of information we're after –  a non-linear behavior the Stanford paper calls 'surface reading'. 

When reading from a paper book, by contrast, our brains switch to a more concentrated form of information processing – dubbed 'deep reading' – that actually helps us better absorb and comprehend what's on the page, even if it's a digital page that mimics the real thing.

To us, that sounds like a great argument for giving ereaders their own space, away from the distractions of apps and constant notifications on our modern do-all devices. With a dedicated ereader, you can even browse for new books without leaving the house.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (yes, she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing cameras and lenses, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She also contributes to Digital Camera World and T3, and helps produce two of Future's photography print magazines in Australia.