Ah, the Kindle—at one point, it was all the rage only to quickly be replaced by buzzier (and majorly multi-tasking) tablets like the Surface, the iPad… and even it’s cooler, younger sister, the Kindle Fire.
But here’s the thing: While you can’t beat the convenience and multi-purposeness of a tablet, you could do away with the Facebook and email notifications when all you’re trying to do is dig into the The Clarity Cleanse, or that thriller that’s destined to be the next Big Little Lies.
There is something so tantalizingly minimal about reading on an e-reader. I had one of the original Kindles, and remember loving it, but it being a bit cumbersome, not only to turn pages, but to highlight and make notes. Also, the old e-readers didn’t have built-in lights, which makes them as hard to read as a paperback at night. I know this sounds weird, but I don’t like reading by lamplight.. it hurts my eyes. But the new breed of e-readers have built-in lights that glow softly (you can adjust) without being the “blue light” that’s so disruptive to our sleep rhythms. All that, plus the new touchscreens, small and slimmer form factors and book-buying ease have made my return to e-reading so fun… and I’ve been reading more before bed as a result.
Perhaps this is our cue to go back to the (almost) basics offered by e-ink readers (aka black and white—and better yet—glare-free) devices that allow you prioritize reading, some writing and nothing more. Here, four options worth buying based upon your needs.
Note: My recommendations below are Amazon-heavy, because it’s just the easiest ecosystem to jump into… the books are plentiful, and there are lots of perks for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Something Starter: Kindle
All you want is a portable way to dive into your reading list, minus any bells and whistles. The basic Kindle e-reader ($79) is a perfect way to jump into e-reading. It’s thinner and lighter than previous generations, and you can even listen to Audible books by pairing your Bluetooth headset. Unlike a regular tablet, the screen is easy on your eyes, and a battery charge lasts for weeks. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get access to thousands of books for free.
Something Luxe: Sony DPT-RP1
Sony’s DPT-RP1 (guys, name it something fun next time?) e-ink device takes reading and writing to the next level thanks to a giant 13.3″ paper-like screen that’s not only glare-free, it’s high resolution displays clear, sharp text that reads like paper even outdoors. But aside from reading, this tablet makes it a breeze to write (it comes with a highly-responsive stylus), highlight and erase text, so you can sift through pages and pages of documents (all easily transferrable via Bluetooth of WiFi) without actually carrying—and risking losing—pages and pages of documents. Just one problem… it’s ridiculously expensive ($700). If you read and mark up documents all day, and are constantly carrying around reams of paper, this might be a panacea.
Open letter to Amazon: I’d love a Kindle that’s this big to feel like a large format magazine, or half The New York Times… just not at this price.
Something Innovative: The Remarkable
No matter how many apps I have organizing my life, I always have a Moleskine with me: There’s nothing like Sharpie + Moleskine to help me unwind, be creative, get my thoughts out, and freethink. Though tablets can save our doodles digitally, they don’t feel like paper, and aren’t as satisfying to use (unless you like drawing on glass?). Remarkable ($599) is an impressive e-reader in it’s own right (10.3″ 226dpi display), but it’s also ready to replace notebooks and sketchpads with it’s sensitive stylus and ability to load and notate PDFs and other reading material. It’s not the most affordable e-reader option to be sure, but it’s multi-purpose and delightful user experience just might sway you.
Something Waterproof: Kindle Oasis & Kobo Aura H20
Summer is coming—and so is pool-and ocean-side reading. The Kindle Oasis is the one I’m currently enjoying (in the top picture): It’s ergonomic redesign makes it the most comfortable e-reader I’ve ever held (no matter how light they are, they get hard to hold after a while… then again so does a paperpack). It’s waterproof, so you don’t have to sweat the spray of the surf (or your kid doing a cannonball right next to you in the pool). Available in sizes up to 32 GB, you can easily house plenty of magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and more. It’s the perfect device to load up ahead of vacation and it features the high resolution (and glare-free reading) of other Kindles, along with unlimited access to over 1000 titles if your’e a Prime Member.
Also on my list is the Kobo Aura H20 ($199), which is also waterproof, and has access to 5 million books in the Kobo eBookstore, as well as integration with Indigo Bookstores. If you’re not locked into the Amazon ecosystem, this reader’s features are more superior. But that’s a big if, since they do dominate the market.
Something for the smalls: Kindle for Kids ($280)
Parents might perk up at the idea of the Kindle for Kids ($99) tagline: It’s not screen time, it’s book time. As in, this Kindle is designed to engage your kids with zero distractions from advertising or the internet. Kindle for Kids is just the basic Kindle, with a protective and colorful cover, a 2-year worry free warranty (because spills and breaks happen) and Kindle FreeTime, a subscription that gives your kids access to tons of educational and age-appropriate titles. They have fabulous parental controls, and kids can set reading goals and monitor their progress.