Ebook readers: How to buy the best ebook reader Ebook reader or tablet?
An ebook reader is designed specifically for reading ebooks and not a great deal else. However, you can also read ebooks on a tablet computer, which will let you play games, browse the internet and send emails.
The main decision is whether to spend your money on a dedicated ebook reader, or to read ebooks on a tablet or smartphone using an ebook reader app. We take a look at the pros and cons of each below.
Find out more about how ebook readers work with our ebook readers interactive tool.
- Matte e-ink display designed to be easy on the eye for reading with little glare from reflected light
- Light and slim - they tend to be lighter than the average paperback
- Very good battery life - they can last up to two months on one charge
- Usually cheaper than smartphones and tablets - basic models cost less than £70
- Generally no, or limited, internet browsing capabilities
- Only some models have a touchscreen
- Some basic models only have arrow keys to input text which can be slow and frustrating
- Black and white screens rather than full colour.
Read more about the different Amazon Kindle models in our advice guide, which Kindle should I buy?
Tablet or smartphone ebook reader apps
Simply by downloading an app you can easily turn a tablet or smartphone into an ebook reader. Take a look at the pros and cons below to find out more. Popular ebook apps include Apple iBooks and Kindle for Android.
- The apps themselves are often free
- Screens are bright, colourful and good for viewing graphics
- Tablets and smartphones are very versatile - you can browse the web, play games, watch TV and films, email and more
- Battery life is often much shorter - hours rather than weeks
- Reading text on glossy screens isn't as comfortable as the matte screens of dedicated ebook readers - the glare might strain your eyes after a while
- Tablets tend to be heavier than ebook readers
- Smartphones have smaller screens which can make them hard to read from
If you are only going to buy one device and want to be able to browse the internet easily as well as read text, then opt for a tablet or smartphone with an ebook app. Small tablets are only slightly more expensive than ebook readers but offer much more versatility. However, if you're an avid reader and want to use your device in bright sunlight or for long stretches of time, then a dedicated ebook reader is the best option.