Alternatives to Kindle ereaders

kindle reading©Amazon

AMAZON released their first Kindle ereader in 2007, and have dominated the market ever since.

Amazon have released many different versions of their ereader, introducing new features including backlighting, waterproofing, 3G and more. There are currently four Amazon Kindles in Amazon's range:

But Amazon aren't the only player in the market. Kobo and Nook offer comparable ereaders with different features and price points. In this guide we'll compare each Kindle with similar competitor ereaders.

File formats

An important element to consider when choosing an ereader is file formats.

EPUB is the open industry standard file format for ebooks, but is not supported by Amazon Kindle ereaders. Kindles support AZW, TPZ, MOBI, PDF or PRC file formats only. Kindles can't be used to read EPUB files, so Kindle users use the Amazon store to get ebooks.

Most other ereaders, including the Kobos and Nooks reviewed here, use the EPUB format. There are several advantages to it, including reflowing text, style sheets, embedded fonts and the ability to transfer files between non-Kindle ereaders, computers, tablets and mobile devices.

Those looking for ebooks in EPUB format can choose between millions of books at Google Play, W H Smith, Waterstones and Kobo. You can even download free ebooks in the public domain at Project Gutenburg.

Kindle users get their books from Amazon. If you already have a Kindle with an ebook library and want to access these on a new device then stick with Kindle. You won't be able to easily transfer and enjoy these titles on a non-Kindle ereader.

Kindle Basic vs. Nook Simple Touch

Winner: The Kindle is smaller, lighter and offers greater storage than the Nook Simple Touch.

Kindle Basic 8 Nook Simple Touch
Supported file types AZW, TPZ, MOBI, PRC, PDF, TXT EPUB, OEPUB, OPDF, PDF
Screen size 6" 6"
Resolution 800 x 600 800 x 600
Pixels per inch 167 167
Size 160 x 115mm 165 x 127mm
Thickness 9.1mm 12mm
Weight 161g 212g
Storage 4GB 2GB
Price £60 n/a
Our rating 4/5 3.5/5
See it on Amazon

Kindle Basic

Amazon Kindle

Kindle Basic

Amazon's first Kindle went on sale in 2007 and it's now in its eighth iteration. It's their most affordable ereader, is available in black and white and is 160 x 115 x 9.1mm. It has a 6", 800 x 600 screen and offers relatively few frills, but its 4GB storage is enough to hold thousands of ebooks at a time.

The 167ppi screen is ok for reading, but those who want to read graphic novels or illustrated ebooks might be disappointed with the screen definition, especially compared to the latest 300ppi-screened devices.

Nook Simple Touch

Nook Simple Touch

Nook Simple Touch

Book seller Barnes and Noble released their first Nook ereader in 2009. The Nook Simple Touch is about the same size as the Kindle Basic at 165 x 127 x12mm, with a similar 6", 800 x 600, 167ppi screen.

The Nook falls short on storage, offering 2GB compared to the 4GB offered by the Kindle Basic, but has a microSD card slot for additional storage.

Neither device has any sort of backlight or brightness settings, which mean they're not suitable for reading in the dark.

Although Barnes and Noble are no longer selling Nook ereaders or ebooks in the UK you can still find plenty of them on Ebay or other listings sites at reasonable prices, and appropriate EPUB ebooks can be bought from a variety of sources.

Kindle Paperwhite vs. Nook Glowlight Plus

Winner: The Nook Glowlight Plus is smaller, thinner and lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite, offers the same amount of built-in storage with extra waterproof credentials.

Kindle Paperwhite Nook Glowlight Plus
Supported file types AZW, TPZ, MOBI, PRC, PDF, TXT EPUB, OEPUB, OPDF, PDF
Screen size 6" 6"
Resolution 1440 x 1080 1430 x 1080
Pixels per inch 300 300
Size 169 x 117mm 163.6 x 119.6 mm
Thickness 9.1mm 8.6mm
Weight 205g 175g
Storage 4GB 4GB
Waterproof rating IPX67
(3 feet for 30 minutes)
Price £110 n/a
Our rating 4.5/5 5/5
See it on Amazon

Kindle Paperwhite

Paperwhite black

Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite launched in 2012 and is now in its third generation. It is backlit for nighttime reading and is Amazon's best selling Kindle, retailing for £40 more than the Basic.

The 6" screen is the same size as the Kindle Basic, but offers a much sharper 300ppi display.

The device is still quite small and lightweight, at 169 mm x 117 mm, and the same thickness as the Kindle Basic. It's moulded case is more pleasing to hold than the Kindle Basic and a little more weight (205g) gives it a more luxurious feel.

Nook Glowlight Plus

Arguably the Nook Glowlight Plus has a slightly nicer feel than the Kindle Paperwhite, with rounded corners, soft touch plastic and silicone edging. The Glowlight Plus comes with IPX67 waterproof rating, meaning it has been tested in fresh water for 30 minutes at up to 3.28 feet.

It's about the same size as the Kindle Basic and Paperwhite but lighter. It has a 6" 1024 x 758 300ppi screen and 4GB of storage. It also has a microSD card slot for more storage space.

Although Barnes and Noble have pulled the Nook range from the UK market the Glowlight Plus can still be found second hand or refurbished for under £100. It's a great option for those who already have an EPUB ebook library or those who are happy to use non-Amazon providers to get their titles.

Kindle Voyage vs. Kobo Aura H2O 2017

Winner: The Voyage is smaller, lighter and thinner than the Kobo. Although the Kobo's screen is larger the Voyage's screen is better quality thanks to a greater number of pixels.

Kindle Voyage Kobo Aura H2O 2017
Supported file types AZW, TPZ, MOBI, PRC, PDF EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, CBZ, CBR
Screen size 6" 6.8"
Resolution 1448 x 1072 1430 x 1080
Pixels per inch 300 265
Size 162 x 115 mm 179 x 129 mm
Thickness 7.6mm 10mm
Weight 188g 210g
Storage 4GB 8GB
Waterproof rating IPX8
(One metre for 30 minutes)
Price £170 £150
Our rating 4/5 3/5
See it on Amazon

Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage

The Kindle Voyage was released in 2014 and is a marginal improvement on the Paperwhite, offering the same screen size and resolution on a slightly thinner and smaller device.

The 180g device is 162 x 115 x 7.6mm and has physical PagePress buttons on either side of the screen. This means that rather than swiping the screen readers can easily turn forward and back with one hand.

One key improvement on the Paperwhite is the introduction of responsive backlighting that adjusts itself depending on its environment. Although it is superior to the Paperwhite it may not be worth the additional expense for such a similar device.

Kobo Aura H2O

Kobo Aura H2O

Kobo Aura H2O (andsleonardo / Flickr)

The Kobo Aura H2O is a large, mid-priced, waterproof-rated ereader that is a strong competitor to the Kindle Voyage. Its IPX8 waterproof rating means that it has been tested in a metre of water, just like the Amazon Oasis.

The key advantage is its expansive 6.8" screen, the largest on the market until the release of the new Amazon Oasis 7. The screen resolution is a bit lower than the Kindle Voyage at 265ppi, and ComfortLightPro backlighting mean it adjust the ambient lighting in a similar way Kindles do.

It's a bit heavier than the Voyage at 210g, thicker at 10mm but offers 8GB of storage; double that offered by the Voyage.

The Kobo also supports a wider range of file formats including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF and MOBI files, as well as CBZ and CBR file types used for comics and graphic novels. Although MOBI files can be accessed on Kobo ereaders it's important to note that Amazon use additional Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection on its MOBI files to prevent them from being accessed on other devices.

This means you cannot transfer Amazon books to a Kobo ereader easily.

Kobo software is a little bit more complicated than Kindle's but also includes lots more font and layout settings, including custom fonts and line spacing.

Kindle Oasis 7 vs. Kobo Aura One

Winner: The Amazon Oasis offers a greater range of features than the Kobo Aura One, and comes with three different price points depending on desired storage space and free 3G.

Kindle Oasis 7 Kobo Aura One
Supported file types AZW, TPZ, MOBI, PRC, PDF EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, CBZ, CBR
Screen size 7" 7.8"
Resolution 1680 x 1264 1872 x 1404
Pixels per inch 300 300
Size 159 x 141 mm 196 x 139 mm
Thickness 8.3mm 7mm
Weight 194g 252g
Storage 8GB / 32GB 8GB / 32GB
Waterproof rating IPX8
(One metre for 30 minutes)
IPX8
(One metre for 30 minutes)
Price £230 (8GB) / £260 (32GB) / £320 (32GB + free 3G) £190
Our rating 4.5/5 4/5

Kindle Oasis

The latest Kindle is the Oasis 7, Amazon's first waterproof ereader. First released in 2016, the latest version comes with a range of additional features including free 3G internet, built-in Audible app, bluetooth and a far larger 7" screen that can display up to 70% more words than previous 6" screens.

Its IPX8 waterproof rating means it has been tested in at least a metre of water in various different wet environments.

Just like the Voyage the Oasis offers a good one-handed reading experience thanks to a 3.4mm tapered edge and physical page turn buttons.

The built-in Audible app means Oasis owners can stream audiobooks to headphones or speakers via Bluetooth. Owners of Amazon's Echo smart speaker can switch seamlessly between reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook versions of titles they own.

The new Oasis is being offered in 8GB, 32GB and 32GB with free 3G versions. 3G means Oasis users can download new ebooks on the go.

Kobo Aura One

Kobo Aura One

Kobo Aura One (ActuaLitte / Flickr)

If you like the sound of a larger ereader, consider Kobo's Aura One, which has a much larger 7.8", 1872 x 1404, 300ppi screen.

The device itself is 195.1 x 138.5 x 6.9mm, almost the same size as an iPad Mini 4. It comes with IPX8 waterproof rating just like the Oasis and is a bit cheaper.

Currently the Aura One offers 8GB of storage, as well as a microSD card slot for more. Kobo recently announced details of a new 32GB version for the US market from December 2017. It is currently unclear whether this device will become available in the UK.

Verdict

Amazon dominate the ereader market for good reason. Not only do they offer a large range of top quality ereaders, but their software and ebook offering is second to none.

If you want to use the Amazon store or you already have a Kindle ebook collection that you want to access you need to get Kindle, but thankfully there are a range of options available to suit all budgets.

The new Oasis is by far the best ereader currently available, offering one of the largest screens, full waterproof credentials, audiobook integration and 3G.

But that doesn't mean there aren't good competing devices. If you like a large screen the Kobo Aura One is a compelling option. If you're looking for a cheaper, backlit ereader the Nook Glowlight Plus is well worth considering. Just remember that with any competing ereaders you won't be able to use Amazon's ebook store or access your Kindle library.

For more information on the four Amazon Kindles currently available check out our guide.


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