Ebook readers: How to buy the best ebook reader Amazon Kindle versus Nook, Kobo and Sony ebook readers

What are the best ebook reader brands?

The most popular ebook reader is the Amazon Kindle. However, there are other strong contenders to the Kindle from brands such as Kobo, Sony and the Barnes and Noble Nook. 

Below we take a look at the pros and cons of each to help you find the best ebook reader for you. 

Best ebook readers - we reveal the top ebook readers on the market. 

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle

Amazon has now released several iterations of its popular Kindle ebook reader. Models range from a no-frills reader to touchscreen and illuminated models for reading under the covers. We take a closer look at the pros and cons of the Kindle range below:

Pros: 

  • The main advantage of the Kindle is that is has easy access to a huge range of book titles via the Kindle Store. Amazon tends to have the greatest range of ebooks at the cheapest prices. The Amazon bookstore also contains a large number of classic books which are free because their copyright date has expired.
  • The Kindle caters well for those who prefer reading the news in the morning on the way into work, with access to UK and international papers plus magazines on the Kindle bookstore.
  • There's a good range of Kindles to choose from, with the cheapest on sale for just £69.
  • Kindle apps are available to download for Android and Apple devices such as tablets and smartphones. This means you can read on your Kindle then pick up from where you left off on your iPhone, so even if you forget your Kindle you won't be left without a good read.

Cons:

  • Kindles can't access the popular ePub format that lets you borrow ebooks from your local library. If you prefer to borrow books rather than purchase them then you will find the Kindle disappointing.
  • Although the Kindle store is well stocked with books, there are gaps on their bookshelf. Unfortunately you can't purchase books from other ebook stores because they do not use a compatible format.
  • If you buy a Kindle, it's hard to swap brands in the future because your virtual library will use the AZW format which isn't compatible with other brands.
  • Some Which? members have told us they've had issues with the screen breaking or freezing. Our research shows that the Kindle has the lowest failure rate of the main ebook brands at 7.7%, but because Amazon is the most popular brand it has an impact on more people. 

For more information, read our guide, which Kindle should I buy?  
 

Nook Simple Touch

Barnes and Noble Nook

Barnes and Noble is a well-known brand in America that has launched its Nook ebook readers in the UK too. There is a simple version and an illuminated Nook, and both are on sale in shops such as PC World and Foyles.  

Pros:

  • The Nook bookstore has over 2.5million titles and offers a selected free book on Fridays. 
  • Compatibility with the ePub format means that you can buy books from other stores and even borrow books from your local library.
  • The Nook models have an SD card slot for expanding the memory - which is good because the internal storage is limited.

Cons:

  • You can't currently download magazines or newspapers from the UK Nook store, however we expect this to change over time. 
  • The Nook models have a small internal memory with room for about 240 ebooks, significantly less that Amazon's basic Kindle which can store around 1400.
  • Neither the Simple Touch nor the Glowlight version come with 3G internet. If you want to download ebooks on the go without wi-fi, the Nook is not the ebook reader for you.

To find out exactly how the Nook fares against the Amazon Kindle, have a look at our ebook reviews
 

Kobo Mini

Kobo ebook readers

Kobo ebook readers, sold by WHSmiths, are becoming a familiar name in the UK market. With a variety of different models on sale, including a cheap Mini version, there are options to suit everyone within the Kobo range. 

Pros:

  • Kobo ebook readers are compatible with the ePub format, so you can borrow books from the library and buy from different ebook stores.
  • The Kobo store itself has almost three million titles, and one million of these are older titles that are available to download for free.
  • Some Kobo ebook readers come with a quilted back, making them comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Cons: 

  • Kobo does not support audio books, so if you prefer listening rather than reading you might be better off with another ebook reader or an MP3 player.
  • At present you can't download magazines or newspapers from the UK store, however we expect this will change in the future.
  • Kobo ebook readers are a cheaper alternative to the Kindle range, but this tends to be reflected in the quality of the devices.

Find out how well the Kobo models did against their rivals in our lab tests.  
 

Sony PRS-T2

Sony ebook readers

Sony launched its first ebook readers in the UK in 2007. There are a variety of Sony readers available and a new Sony book store. 

Pros:

  • Sony uses the ePub format - so you can buy books from a range of ebook stores including Google, Waterstone's and WH Smiths.
  • You can download free books to the Sony Reader from sites such as Project Gutenberg.
  • The internal memory on Sony ebook readers tends to be relatively large, enough to store around 1000 books, plus you can use the memory card slot to expand the memory if you need to.

Cons:

  • Sony models tend to be more expensive than equivalent models from their rivals.
  • The Sony book store is newer than rival stores. Not as many titles are offered as yet, but we expect this to improve over time. 


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