The Kindle Oasis is one of the best e-readers for older users thanks to its adaptive lighting options and physical buttons for turning pages.
Meanwhile, the Kindle Paperwhite is better for older users on a budget, coming with some of the key features of the Oasis yet without the same price tag.
For customers who would prefer a different type of e-reader, the Kobo Libra 2 offers a well-lit display, physical page-turn buttons and an auto rotate function.
Which e-reader is best for an older person?
We've chosen three of the best e-readers available for older people.
All these devices are currently on the market at the time of writing, with the latest versions available using the links later in the guide.
|Kindle Oasis||Kindle Paperwhite||Kobo Libra 2|
|Built-in light||25 LEDs||17 LEDs||19 LEDs|
|Storage||8GB or 32GB||8GB||32GB|
|Dimensions||159 x 141 x 3.4-8.4 mm||174 x 125 x 8.1 mm||144.6 x 161.6 x 9 mm|
Verdict: Kindle Oasis
The Kindle Oasis is the best e-reader suited to older people.
It has responsive ambient backlighting which makes it ideal for anyone struggling to see, plus the physical page-turn buttons and the font options make it a good all-round e-reader.
The main downside is that the Kindle Oasis is comparatively expensive.
For customers reluctant to pay that much for an e-reader, it's worth noting the Kindle Paperwhite has adopted some of the accessibility features we like so much about the Oasis - at a lower price point.
1. Kindle Oasis
Best for: Readers who want a lightweight device with the best lighting options - and don't mind paying a little extra for it.
- Adjustable lighting and auto adjustment
- Font adjustment options
- Physical buttons for turning pages
- Relatively expensive
- Shape of rear may be difficult to hold
The Kindle Oasis is a deluxe version of the Paperwhite featuring a better-lit display and a slightly larger screen. It also has physical buttons to turn the pages of books rather than relying solely on touchscreen technology.
The Kindle Oasis has more LEDs than any of Amazon's other dedicated e-readers.
With 24 front light LEDs, the Oasis has seven more than the Kindle Paperwhite and 20 more than the basic standard Kindle.
These LEDs ensure the lighting on the Kindle Oasis can be turned up to a high level that may improve the reading experience for those who struggle to see text against dimmer backgrounds.
Contrast between dark and light is also aided by the 24 LEDs on the Oasis, while the warmness of the light can be adjusted to make the screen more comfortable to look at when lights are lower or when reading over a longer period.
While light settings can be adjusted manually by the user as and when needed, the Oasis also supports responsive lighting that will automatically adjust according to the ambient light within a room.
These features make the lighting on the Kindle Oasis one of the best options for older readers.
The 7-inch glare-free display on the Kindle Oasis is slightly larger than the Kindle Paperwhite and the same size as the Kobo Libra 2.
This display is large enough to show more words on the page than smaller e-reader models which may suit older readers who don't want to turn the page every few seconds.
On the flip side, the 7-inch display means that users can adjust the font size for more comfortable reading without drastically reducing the number of words on each page.
The resolution on the Kindle Oasis is 300ppi - this is the same as the Paperwhite and Libra 2.
The Kindle Oasis is designed to withstand accidental immersion in water.
It has an IPX8 rating which means it has been laboratory tested and can survive for up to 60 minutes in up to two meters of fresh water or up to three minutes in 0.25 meters of seawater.
These are the same waterproofing features that are also seen on the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Libra 2.
However, while waterproofing is a good backup, the Kindle Oasis and other e-readers are not designed to be used in water and users may need to thoroughly dry them out after accidental immersion.
Low vision settings on the Kindle Oasis allow users to vary the appearance of text with just a few touches.
This allows users to choose simplified fonts, make the font bolder, increase the font size and add extra spacing in between lines to improve readability.
The Kindle Oasis also features VoiceView which will read everything on the screen aloud once it is enabled. This is a useful feature for those with low vision or those who sometimes need assistance if their eyes become too tired to read.
In addition, the Kindle Oasis supports Audible, the audiobooks catalogue from Amazon, although there is no headphone jack on the device so customers will need to be comfortable with Bluetooth technology to listen to audiobooks.
A major advantage of the Kindle Oasis over the Kindle Paperwhite is the physical page turning buttons on the right side of the e-reader.
For users who prefer physical buttons they can press rather than relying on touchscreen technology, the Kindle Oasis is superior to its cheaper Kindle sibling.
The design of the Kindle Oasis is different to the Paperwhite too because it isn't uniformly flat across the rear. Instead, one end is 5mm thicker than the other with a ridge in the middle of the device to allow for easier holding.
In practice, this ridge may benefit some readers while others may find it difficult to adjust to since they are not holding a flat device.
One final point on the design: the Kindle Oasis has an aluminium body which makes it feel like a stronger e-reader than those made simply of plastic like the Paperwhite. At the same time, the Oasis is a slightly lighter device.
|Number of LEDs||25|
|Battery life||Up to 6 weeks|
|Charge time||3 hours|
|On-device storage||8GB or 32GB|
|Cloud storage||Free for Amazon content|
2. Kindle Paperwhite
Best for: Older users who want an affordable e-reader with excellent features without having to spend too much.
- Long battery life
- Adjustable lighting and fonts
- Good value for money
- No physical page turning buttons
- Loses out on some features to the Signature Edition
The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best value e-readers on the market and now offers lighting features that were previously exclusive to the Oasis. This makes it an affordable option for older e-reader users who want more lighting choices.
The Kindle Paperwhite has 17 LEDs lighting the screen.
While this is seven less than the Kindle Oasis, it still marks an increase from the five LEDs included in previous versions of the Paperwhite.
The LEDs on the Paperwhite are a mix of white and amber (as we see on the Oasis too). It means that Paperwhite users can enjoy the warm light options previously offered only on the Oasis.
Unlike the Oasis, however, the Paperwhite does not have auto-adjustment options, so users looking to change the light settings on their Paperwhite e-reader will need to do it manually.
Note: the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition does have an auto-adjusting display among other unique Kindle features, so those willing to pay more may prefer than version of the Paperwhite.
With a 6.8-inch glare-free display, the Kindle Paperwhite is slightly smaller than both the Kindle Oasis and Kobo Libra 2.
This small difference is unlikely to be a deal-breaker for those who would prefer the cheaper Paperwhite over the more expensive Oasis, but it's something to be aware of.
The resolution on the Kindle Paperwhite is the same as the Kindle Oasis and the Kobo Libra 2 at 300ppi.
The waterproofing features of the Kindle Paperwhite are the same as the Kindle Oasis, so the e-reader is protected against accidental immersion in water.
Like the Oasis, the Paperwhite has been laboratory tested to withstand immersion in fresh water of up to two meters for 60 minutes or seawater of up to 0.25 meters for up to three minutes.
If the Kindle Paperwhite is exposed to water, users should take steps to dry it externally as quickly as possible. There is clear guidance on the Amazon website on how to do this.
The Paperwhite offers the same visual accessibility features as the Oasis, with VoiceView providing a text-to-voice option over Bluetooth for users who need it.
It's also possible to adjust the font and font size, as well as amending line spacing and the margins for a personalised reading experience.
These features can help older readers with specific eyesight needs, such as the requirement for a font to be bolder or lines to be spaced further apart to avoid them appearing to blend together.
The Kindle Paperwhite does not have physical page turning buttons, so users will need to be comfortable with using the touchscreen to turn pages.
For some older users, this could be frustrating, and it might be a reason to choose the Kindle Oasis or the Kobo Libra 2 over the Paperwhite.
The design of the Kindle Paperwhite is typical for a Kindle, featuring a flat rear panel instead of the ridged design we see on the Oasis.
As the Paperwhite is made from plastic, some users will find it easier to hold. However, others might prefer the metal body of the Kindle Oasis instead because it feels sturdier.
|Number of LEDs||17|
|Battery life||Up to 10 weeks|
|Charge time||5 hours|
|Cloud storage||Free for Amazon content|
3. Kobo Libra 2
Best for: Readers who don't want a Kindle and who value a streamlined reading experience.
|Kobo Libra 2||£159.99||7"||215g||32GB|
- Physical page turning buttons
- Asymmetrical design
- Well-lit display
- Auto rotate function
- Limited audiobook support
- Design may feel odd at first
The Kobo Libra 2 is a quality e-reader that will appeal to older readers who don't want a Kindle but still want a device that is easy to use with accessibility features.
The Kobo Libra 2 uses the patented ComfortLight Pro screen technology that is found on all Kobo e-readers. This features evenly spaced white and amber LEDs that provide a uniformly lit display.
Adjusting the brightness on the Kobo Libra 2 is straightforward and can be done without leaving the book a user is reading.
Unlike the Kindle Oasis, there are no options for auto-adjusting the light depending on the ambient light around at the time. However, Kobo Libra 2 users can set the light temperature (cool or warm) depending on the time of day - a feature unavailable on the Kindle Oasis.
Users can also invert the text from black on a white background to white on a black background, a feature that can benefit users who prefer dark modes on their devices.
The screen size of the Kobo Libra 2 is 7-inches. This is the same size as the Kindle Oasis and slightly larger than the Kindle Paperwhite.
At 300ppi, the resolution on the Kobo Libra 2 is the same as both the Oasis and Paperwhite, with all the devices offering a glare-free display.
In terms of screen size and resolution, then, the Kobo Libra 2 is on the same level as the Kindle Oasis.
The Kobo Libra 2 has been tested in laboratory conditions to withstand up to 60 minutes in up to two meters of water. This meets the requirements of the IPX8 rating.
As with all waterproofing claims, there are caveats to the Kobo Libra 2's resistance, with the 60 minutes only applicable to fresh water.
It's advised not to get the Kobo Libra 2 or any e-reader wet if you can help it, and it's important to wipe away external splashes and dry the whole device carefully if water ingress does occur.
Visual accessibility features on the Kobo Libra 2 include 12 different fonts and over 50 font styles, allowing users to choose one that suits their eyesight needs.
There are also options in the settings menu for users to adjust the margins of the e-books they're reading and the space between the lines.
One feature of the Kobo Libra 2 that may be of interest to older readers is the ability for the device to switch from portrait mode to landscape mode seamlessly while reading (auto rotate).
This means users can turn the device around if it's becoming heavy against their hands and readjust to a more comfortable position without going into a different menu. The auto rotate function can be switched off, with users able to choose landscape or portrait views if they prefer.
Audiobooks purchased from the Kobo Store are supported on the Kobo Libra 2, although there is no headphone port and customers will need to use Bluetooth headphones.
The Kobo Libra 2 includes physical buttons for turning pages in the same way the Kindle Oasis does.
For readers who prefer this physical action rather than touchscreen page swiping, this can be a useful feature.
The shape of the Kobo Libra 2 is slightly different to the Kindles we've discussed above thanks to it having an asymmetrical that allows for it to be easily used with one hand.
However, it is a slightly heavier device than the Kindle Oasis or the Kindle Paperwhite, albeit only by a few grams.
|Number of LEDs||19|
|Battery life||Up to 7 weeks|
|Charge time||2 hours|
|Cloud storage||Free for Kobo content|
How to choose an e-reader for an older person
E-readers are becoming more common, with older readers encouraged to use them instead of (and in addition to) traditional books.
There are several key reasons why older readers may prefer reading on a device:
- Lighter to hold than a book
- Accessibility features to make reading easier such as different fonts and spacing options
- Lighting that can be adjusted depending on a user's needs
- E-readers can be more waterproof than books
- Ease of buying books online
It's important to remember that different e-readers have different strengths and weaknesses.
For older people looking at the right e-reader for their needs, it's worth asking the following questions:
- Would you prefer physical buttons to turn the pages?
- How many lighting options does the e-reader have and would you prefer them to change automatically?
- How regularly do you plan on reading on the device and would an e-reader with a longer battery life be better?
- Do you want to listen to audiobooks on the device?
- What's your budget?
Many customers will move rapidly to the last point, and it can be tempting to look at an e-reader solely in terms of price.
However, if the reading experience on an e-reader is poor or can't adapt to an older person's requirements, it simply won't be used much or at all.
Is a Kindle better than a Kobo?
Although the Amazon Kindle is a bigger brand than the Rakuten Kobo e-reader range, both sets of devices have their fans.
The reading experience on Kindle is tied into the Amazon store, with customers often paying extra for their devices to remove ads from their device.
While the display can feel cluttered at times and prevent customers seeing clearly what is in their own library rather than which books are being recommended to them, this can be an issue across different brands of e-readers.
Readers who prefer Kobo cite the comparatively clean display and the fact that reading stats are more readily available and easily understandable.
Whether all this matters to an older person who just wants to read books is debatable, but it's worth being aware of.
Summary: Which e-reader is best for an older user?
All e-readers can be used by older people; however, we've highlighted three that are particularly well-suited to those who may be suffering from sight issues or are not as strong as they used to be.
Overall, the Kindle Oasis is the best e-reader for older users.
It is the lightest device of the three we've looked at in this guide, plus it has physical page-turning buttons and more lighting options than other Kindles on the market.
For customers who are new to e-reading and may be unsure about spending a lot of money on an expensive device, the Kindle Paperwhite is a good compromise, especially as it now features more LEDs than previously and some ambient lighting.
Finally, for those who would prefer to step outside the Amazon ecosystem, the Kobo Libra 2 is an excellent device with physical page-turning buttons and font/spacing options that are ideal for older readers.
There's more information about tablets for older people in our dedicated guide, with five top devices to choose from.