Ebook reader reviews: Features explained

Size and weight

Kindle angles

Ebook readers are small and light.

Ebook readers are slim, light, easy to hold and carry around. Some are as light as150 grams, not much heavier than many mobile phones.

You can store lots of books on them - giving you a portable library that you can easily slip into a bag. So if you're going on holiday but don't want to take a mountain of books with you, simply download them to your ebook reader providing plenty of reading material without weighing down your luggage. 

Our research based on the latest titles shows that ebooks are usually slightly cheaper than new paper books.

Buying ebooks

Ebooks are available to buy from a number of online stores. The most well-known of these is the Amazon Kindle Store. It has a huge selection of ebooks, with some newspapers and magazines also available. You can only use the Kindle book store with a Kindle ebook reader or app. But ereaders from other manufacturers have access to a variety of stores - giving you plenty to choose from. 

See our guide to where to find ebooks

Getting ebooks onto your reader

Some ebook readers come with a few pre-installed books. Adding to this collection is easy, you can buy books from an ebook store or borrow them from a library. Please note Kindles are not compatible with library ebooks. 

To buy an ebook, you can visit an ebook store online using your computer, buy and download an ebook, before transferring it to the device with a USB cable. Alternatively, many ebook readers have a built-in wi-fi internet connection and direct link to an ebook store so you can buy and download directly onto the reader.

Reading ebooks

kindle-custom-fonts

Changing the text size on an ebook reader

A menu system and controls allow you to find and open your ebook. You use the page turn buttons on the device, or touch the screen if its touchscreen enabled, to turn pages.

Ebook reader screens are matte, not glossy, meaning that eye strain and glare in bright light condition are minimised. You can usually change the text size if it is too small or big for you, and sometimes the gap between lines, all to suit your reading preferences.

When you finish reading and turn off the ebook reader, it will remember which page you were on enabling you to start up again quickly later. You can also add bookmarks and notes to the text again using the controls.

Battery life

Many portable electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones suffer from short battery life, with frequent recharging necessary. Ebook readers do not have this problem. Their screens consume very little power meaning that you can go weeks before needing to recharge.

Other features

iBooks App

The iBooks app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

As well as reading books, some ebook readers have a headphone socket so you can listen to audiobooks or music. Some also have a basic internet browser so you can browse the web, although ebook reader screens aren’t optimised for this making pages a struggle to read and navigate through.

Apps

A dedicated ebook reader is not the only way to read ebooks. You can read them also on a laptop, smartphone or tablet. On a tablet or smartphone, you have to download an ebook reader software application, or app for short, first. See our app reviews.

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