The best Kindles and e-readers we tested

KINDLES ARE A FAVORITE DEVICE OF OURS. They’re simple, dependable, and excellent at what they do—in one palm-sized gadget, you can carry thousands of books to the park or mountain, and each charge lasts more than a month. You can acquire infinite books from Amazon by subscribing, or you can receive free books from your local library (more on those below). But which Kindle is the best? Our guide will assist you in understanding the differences.

Are you ready to delve even deeper into the Amazon universe? For additional information, check out our guides to the Best Fire Tablets and Best Alexa Speakers, as well as a variety of other buying guides.

The newest Paperwhites, we believe, will be the most popular. The number of step-up waterproof ereaders has increased from one to three, and the devices now compete with the more expensive Oasis. The Signature Edition (8/10, GGT Recommends) was our favorite, but all three models had larger, 6.8-inch screens with reduced bezels. The screens are brighter at their maximum brightness and now have adjustable warm lighting, but only the Signature can automatically adjust the brightness to your surroundings, which we believe should be standard across all models. Its rapid page-turn pace ensures that you don’t have to wait while reading.

The Signature comes with 32 GB of storage, while the Standard comes with 8 GB. Although there is a significant difference, 8 gigabytes will still allow you to read and store a large number of books (around 5,000). If you mainly listen to audiobooks, the Signature might be the better option because they take up more space. Still, if you want to save money, clear up your backlog—you may delete a book from your device without deleting it from your Amazon account entirely. All of the 2021 Paperwhites include USB-C charging, however only the Signature has wireless charging. Read on to learn more about the Kid’s Paperwhite.

If you’re looking for a basic ebook reader, this one contains everything you need (8/10, GGT Recommends) and is usually inexpensive. However, it hasn’t been updated since 2019, and we’re wondering if a new one is on the way.

The 6-inch E Ink capacitive touchscreen on this base Kindle is adequate for reading, and it lights up so you can read in the dark. If you have an extra $20 to spend, you should get rid of the adverts on the home screen. It can also stream Audible audiobooks to Bluetooth headphones, but storage is restricted to 8 GB (about 8,000 megabytes). For comparison, an hour of audio takes up roughly 30 megabytes, which is enough space for dozens of audiobooks. (When you’re through, delete the audiobooks to free up space.) Depending on how much you read, the battery lasts three to six weeks.

There’s no reason to spend $270 on an ebook reader. (You can save $20 if you agree to have advertisements, but you don’t want them at this price.) The Oasis is the same price as three regular Kindles, but it’s a lot more fun to use. Many of the Oasis’ features, such as customizable warm lighting and a speedier processor, are now available in the new Paperwhites. The touchscreen is now only slightly larger than the new Paperwhites, at 7 inches. It does, however, retain the sleek aluminum appearance with a ridge on one edge and actual page-turning keys. It’s great for one-handed reading because of these features. The light-up display also has a more natural appearance and adjusts the brightness automatically.

If you’re spending this much money on a Kindle, you might as well get the premium leather cover to complete the look. On the negative side, it’s too big to fit in most pockets. If you have a large audiobook collection, the 32-gigabyte option, which costs $30 extra, is the way to go.

A Kids Edition is included in the 2021 Paperwhites. It, too, features a larger and sleeker screen with thinner bezels and more lighting options than the others. It’s also waterproof (IPX8), which is common for Paperwhites but unusual for children. It’s a good idea to invest the extra $50 on this edition if you have an accident-prone child or one who simply enjoys reading by the pool or in the tub. We didn’t test the new Kids model, but we did sample the Signature Edition and believe it would stand up just as well.

You’ll get a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+, which is a kid-friendly content library with parental restrictions, just like previous kids models. (If you have a Fire Tablet or an Echo, you can use the same platform across all of your Amazon devices.) It also comes with a case and a two-year replacement guarantee with no questions asked. You get your money back if your child smashes it just once. If you’re looking for a safe entertainment gadget for your child, an ebook reader without a browser or access to social media is definitely the best option.

Alternatively, if you don’t need waterproofing, the 10th-generation Kids Kindle ($110) is still available for $50 cheaper. We believe it is still a good Kindle for youngsters to use. You don’t have to upgrade if you already own this model.

Do you have a friend who is willing to give up their Kindle? It might be sufficient for you. If you buy a sixth-generation Kindle Paperwhite (2013) or newer, it will very certainly operate fine, albeit without as many bells and whistles. You’ll get fewer pixels and it won’t have Bluetooth for audiobooks or any kind of waterproofing, but older Kindles are still good for reading. Even old or refurbished versions are acceptable, but you won’t want to spend a lot of money on them. You’ll need to perform a factory reset (choose Settings > Device Options > Reset) then sign in to your Amazon account.

You may go through Amazon’s certified reconditioned Kindles, but older and less expensive models are hard to come by.

These Kindles Should Be Avoided! (Ancient Kindles on Amazon)

If there are buttons or a keyboard on the front of a Kindle (other than the new Oasis), don’t buy it. It may still function, but you’ll have a lot better time with a modern smartphone. Your Amazon ebook library is stored in the cloud and can be accessed from any tablet, phone, or Kindle. You can trade in an older, non-working one for credit toward a newer model if you find one.

Where Can I Find Books?

Although the price of some Kindle novels may surprise you (as it did me), there are methods to save money while reading as much as you want.

You might wish to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, which costs $10 per month. Only the Unlimited catalog is available, although it has millions of titles, including audiobooks and magazines. You should take advantage of the 30-day free trial.

If you already have a Prime membership, you can get several free books through Prime Reading. There aren’t as many alternatives as there are with Kindle Unlimited, and you’ll have to look attentively to discover the free ones because both Unlimited and Prime selections are sometimes grouped together. But it’s still something, and some magazines, such as Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan, are included.

If you don’t want to pay for another monthly subscription and don’t want to keep sending your money to Amazon, you can use your library card to get ebooks. Browsing a digital catalog isn’t quite as wonderful as browsing every shelf in a library, but that’s the life of an ebook (no one says you can’t read both!). You should check out our thorough how-to on this, but here are some key takeaways:

  • Obtain a library card for your neighborhood branch.
  • Check out your branch’s website to see what ebooks are available. Many people use the OverDrive website.
  • Download to your Kindle library directly. When they’re due back, they’ll be automatically deleted.

If you know someone who has a Kindle, you can borrow books from each other’s libraries, just like you would with a physical copy. To do so, follow Amazon’s guidelines, but keep in mind that not all books can be loaned.

Helpful Hints

You may want to take use of the capabilities available on Kindles. Long-press a word or phrase to see a definition, highlight it, or make a note of it. You may also search the full book for that word or phrase, as well as translate it into and out of other languages.

Short meanings are displayed in little type within the lines in Word Wise. It isn’t accessible for all books, but when it is, you may switch it on or off and select how many hints you want. A full definition from Word Wise and the New Oxford American Dictionary or Oxford Dictionary of English (you can switch between the two) opens when you click the short term, along with translations and, if relevant, a Wikipedia article.

While reading, tap the top of the screen and press “Aa” to alter the font size or type—even there’s a typeface called OpenDyslexic that helps those with dyslexia read more easily. From that option, you can also adjust margin sizes and line spacing.

When your Kindle is linked to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones, VoiceView Screen Reader (found in the accessibility settings) lets you navigate your device with gestures and reads what you’ve pressed aloud. It can also read a book aloud, albeit the sound quality isn’t as good as an audiobook.

Because Amazon owns Goodreads, it syncs effortlessly with Kindles (choose Goodreads from the three-dot menu). You can review the Kindle books you’ve read or explore your bookshelf and suggestions if you have a Goodreads account. In addition to what has already been described, long-pressing a word or phrase brings up an opportunity to share quotes directly to Goodreads.

If you’re connected to the internet, there’s also a web browser (three-dot menu Web Browser). It’s not the best, so I’d only use it in an emergency.


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