eReader Shootout: Amazon Kindles vs. Barnes & Noble Nooks vs. Kobo Glo

While many people have turned to their iPads and Android tablets for the purpose of reading e-books, there is still very much a market for the dedicated eReader. The e-ink display is so much easier on the eyes and the battery life is way better than what you’d get from a tablet. But, which one is best?

A quick comparison has been put together with some of the heaviest hitters in this space, taking a look at the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle, Kindle Keyboard, Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, Nook Simple Touch, and Kobo Glo. There are others to be considered, like those from Sony or other Kobos, but these are some of the most popular and their comparison should help narrow down your choices.

Display

All six of the eReaders featured in this overview use some form of e-ink technology for their displays rather than the regular backlit LCDs you find on tablets. You’ll also notice that they’ve all congregated on the 6-inch form factor, though you’ll find other variations from Amazon, B&N and Kobo that come in other sizes. The resolutions are mostly the same, though the Paperwhite and the Glo have significantly better PPIs. It’s also noteworthy that the Glo, Paperwhite and Nook with Glowlight are the ones with lit displays for dim reading situations.

Size and Weight

Since they all have six-inch displays, the overall dimensions of all these eReaders are roughly the same. They measure approximately 165 x 120 x 10mm with some variation and they all weigh right around 170-210 grams or so. The lone exception is the Kindle Keyboard, since it has that physical QWERTY keyboard beneath the display, stretching its length to 190mm and bumping its weight to 247g.

Storage Space

Not surprisingly, all six of the eReaders also have roughly the same amount of storage space. After all, e-books are very small files and you don’t need much space. The Paperwhite and Kindle both have 2GB, while the Kindle Keyboard has 4GB. The Nooks and Kobo Glo all have 2GB, plus a microSD expansion slot. That memory expansion could prove to be an important feature for people who want to carry a lot of content with them.

Wireless

They all have Wi-Fi, but you can opt to get the Kindle Paperwhite as a WiFi+3G mdel. The Kindle Keyboard is sold only as a WiFi+3G eReader.

Battery Life

The Kindle, Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, and Kobo Glo all have batteries rated in the 4 week range, while the Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Keyboard and Nook Simple Touch (sans GlowLight) last twice as long at about 8 weeks. Of course, your mileage will vary based on usage, especially when it comes to how much you use the lighting features. Charging any of these eReaders will take you 3 to 4.5 hours.

Other Considerations

If you want to read in dimly lit situations, you’ll want to opt for one of the eReaders that comes with some form of lit display. That’s the Kindle Paperwhite, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight or the Kobo Glo. If you want to take advantage of Amazon’s gigantic library, then you’ll want one of the Kindles. If you want a keyboard, then you’ll want to the Kindle Keyboard. Of course, there are some tradeoffs if you want, say, a keyboard and a backlight, because that just doesn’t exist.

Price

This will be a big deciding factor for many people. The cheapest of the bunch is the regular old Kindle that starts at $69, but you could also consider something like the Kobo Mini (5-inch) that starts at around the same price range. It is worth noting that all Kindles come with the “Special Offers” advertising that you’ll have to pay $20 to eliminate. If you hate ads, you’ll need to factor that into the price. It’s also debatable whether the Kindle Keyboard is really worth its premium just for a keyboard.

At the end of the day, which eReader you choose will really depend on several factors. Price is one, to be sure, but you’ll also want to think about size, backlighting, and the ecosystem. Whatever the case, it’s a good time to be a consumer, because we are offered a lot more choice than when the original Kindle was the be-all and end-all of e-book readers.

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5 Comments

  1. Someguy says:

    There is no evidence that they are “easier on the eyes”. None. The few studies (such as they are) that have been done are inconclusive. Any “evidence” of this so far is purely anecdotal.

  2. AndyG says:

    What about the pricing of books for Nook vs Kindle? Is it the same?

    • Cole says:

      Pretty much, yeah. Kindle’s got the biggest selection, I think, but all the major sellers are going to have plenty of books to choose from. Plus, many ereaders can read ebooks distributed from other stores, they just can’t access those stores on the device itself. I read Kindle MOBI files on my Kobo Glo.

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