eBook reading has grown exponentially over the past few years and the trend has already begun transposing towards audiobooks. Both functions are a must for an ideal reading tablet to ensure its relevance over the years. The growing popularity of eBooks has also propelled the count of platforms and devices you can access them and your audiobooks on. At this point, you’ve two options—either pick a dedicated eBook reader or get a tablet that could install your eBook app of choice—to get started.
Let’s talk a bit more in-depth about the two options you have when looking for an eBook reader.
Great eBook Readers
Dedicated eBook readers are almost always preferred over tablets as they have one task and they do it well. Most modern eBook readers come with a textured paper-like e-ink display that doesn’t glare as a tablet does.
E-ink displays are extremely power-efficient and devices like Amazon’s Kindle require charging only once every few weeks, depending on your usage. No tablet can even trail their battery performance, let alone matching it. Plus, these readers are much cheaper than tablets giving them an upper hand.
Below mentioned are some of our recommendations for the best e-readers.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a step up from the basic Kindle reader. It packs a higher-resolution screen that gets brighter, making the text legible even under direct sunlight. Even though it has slightly thicker surrounding bezels than the basic one, it has a flush front glass and the display doesn’t sink inside the tablet casing.
With that, the base model of this Kindle e-book reader offers 8GB of storage which is enough for storing thousands of books at a time. It does support audiobook playback via Amazon’s Audible service using Bluetooth headphones. A 32GB model is recommended for audiobooks as they take more space than an e-book. This model is splash-proof, too, making it perfect for poolside use.
Amazon Kindle 2019
The 2019 iteration of the entry-level Amazon Kindle brings a couple of features from the costlier Kindle models. Amazon has included the frontlight feature in their basic model this year which enhances its capabilities. You can manually adjust the brightness as well, although, its display sharpness has remained the same at 167 PPI.
Like other models, the Kindle 2019 also supports the Audible feature which you can listen to using Bluetooth headphones. You can get this device in either 4GB or 32GB of internal memory. In line with our expectations from such e-book readers, this Kindle model lasts for several weeks on a single charge, but your mileage may vary.
Best Tablets For Reading
Unlike dedicated eBook readers, tablets are much more versatile devices that aren’t designed to be limited to a single task. You have the flexibility to install any e-book or audiobook app of your liking without being locked into one ecosystem.
In addition to that, with a tablet, you have the convenience of carrying just one device that can do both the things instead of carrying a dedicated reader. We find the tablets with 7 and 8 inches of screen size to be best suited for reading on the go and here are some of our recommendations.
Apple iPad Mini
The compact Apple machine is just the perfect device for reading on the go with its compact design. With the 2019 iPad Mini (review) getting a True Tone display, reading on the 8-inch tablet would be a pleasant experience. Speaking of which, the IPS display is actually sharper at a pixel density of 324 PPI.
Like almost all Apple products, the iPad Mini gets a metal body that feels premium, especially against plastic. To get started, all you need is to head to the App Store and download your favorite e-book or audiobook apps. However, its recycled design may put you off even though the 2019 model supports Apple Pencil (1st gen).
Huawei MediaPad M5 8 & M6 8
On the Android side of the spectrum, we found the 8-inch variants of the Huawei MediaPad M5 (review) and the newly launched MediaPad M6 to be great products. Both share an identical display measuring 8.4 inches and have a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Being in the 16:10 aspect ratio, you get that extra vertical space to fit an entire page on the screen.
Huawei recently upgraded the M5 to M6 with some minor changes, but the two devices have largely remained the same. They come with high-end internals, so performance shall not be an issue with either. The Google Play Store is populated with some of the best e-book apps and the tablet has ample space to store your entire collection of audiobooks.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 with S Pen
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A 8.0 with S Pen (review) is a one of a kind device that, unfortunately, isn’t widely available. This compact device has an S Pen built-in making it the ideal note-taking tablet when on the go. Its manageable form factor allows it to be held in a single hand while reading.
The included display is bright and has a full HD resolution, which is pretty much a classic scenario for reading an e-book. Samsung’s One UI, based on Android 9 Pie, comes pre-installed on the tablet giving you access to some newer S Pen features. Its battery, however, could’ve been better.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite 8/Honor Pad 5
For under $200, the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 Lite (review), also known as Honor Pad 5 in some markets, is one of the most feature-packed tablets in its segment. It is a 2019 model and comes preloaded with Android 9 Pie with Huawei’s skin running on top. This gives you access to all the latest features that the OS brings.
As an e-book reader, its 8-inch display gives you ample space to go through your books at a stretch. It is sharp enough with an FHD resolution that shows blur-free text and keeps your eyes from fatiguing. The Huawei tablet uses mid-range internals that should be just fine for day-to-day use, which includes reading.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 (2019) T290
For the purpose of reading or listening to audiobooks, the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 (2019) is unlikely to disappoint you with a performance dip. Its hardware prowess is good-enough for going through your favorite books as the task isn’t that resource-hungry. Android OS gives you access to a robust app store to download not just reading apps but also a truckload of other applications.
Similar to other devices on the list, this Samsung slate boasts an 8-inch display which, however, has an HD resolution with a pixel density of 189 PPI. It isn’t as high-quality as other premium offerings but should be fine for a casual read. The tablet lasted for 13.5 hours in our standard test but only reading can surely stretch this number.
Lenovo Tab M8
The Lenovo Tab M8 (review) comes with two screen resolution options—HD and full HD. No matter which one you pick, your reading experience won’t be bad at all, but the text on the latter variant will definitely be sharper. Nevertheless, the tablet comes with a rather newer version of Android, which should be supported by popular reading apps in the future, even in the case, the tablet doesn’t get any OS upgrades.
If you usually travel with your eBook reader, then you’ll be pleased to know that the Tab M8 lasted over 20 hours in our standard test, which means it’ll keep running for long between charges. Though you’ll have to carry a separate micro USB cable for this slate as it lacks the USB Type-C port, which is getting ubiquitous nowadays. Also, the display isn’t the brightest we’ve seen, so outdoor usage could be iffy.
Amazon Fire HD 8/8 Plus
Amazon’s own Fire HD tablets are fantastic options if you’re looking for something more than the standalone Kindle devices. The company optimizes its tablets to integrate tightly with its plethora of digital services, including Kindle. On top of that, the 8-inch screen size of the latest 2020 models is perfect for reading. And if that wasn’t enough, Amazon this year came with a Plus model of its 8-inch budget tablet that has wireless charging and more RAM.
We’re yet to review these slates, but from the looks of it, the experience has only gotten better with these latest models. Amazon promises more processing power, which means you’ll be able to do things a little more easily. Both devices now also charge using a USB Type-C port, last seen on the 10-inch Fire, allowing you to carry along a single charger for all your compatible devices. Despite a marginal increase in their prices this year, the Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus remain two of the cheapest devices in their category and are totally worth it.
Amazon Fire 7
You can get this Fire 7 tablet (review) if you want nothing but the cheapest device that can also serve as an occasional e-book reader. It is a compact slate with its 7-inch display which makes it easier to carry around and hold with one hand. However, it isn’t the sharpest display around and is fine for casual reading only.
It shares the same software experience as other Fire tablets and lacks support for the Play Store. Though, there is no dearth of Amazon apps besides a handful of popular third-party entertainment apps for the tablet. The Fire 7 performs well enough for taking you through your reading session and some more.
Lenovo Tab M7
Now, if you don’t aim to do a lot on your tablet beyond reading and don’t want to spend much on it either, then the Tab M7 (review) might be a good fit overall. It’s an inexpensive tablet from Lenovo that focuses on the build quality, which we had no complaints about, thanks to the use of metal. Like we previously said, the 7-inch screen size is enough for going through your books without adding the bulk.
The Tab M7 offers good battery life, though not as good as the M8, you should be fine for several hours of reading on a single charge. It has a good display and comes running a cleaner version of Android 9 Pie. It’s particularly beneficial since you get access to the full library of the Play Store, unlike other offerings in this price range that don’t support Google’s app store out of the box.
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