best eBook readers for the beach

eBook Readers for the Book Worm on Vacation

Summer vacation for some means relaxing by the pool and doing absolutely nothing. Once you’re there it’s paradise, yet no one likes the pre-vacation stress of packing a suitcase that has a weight limit. The answer?  Don’t waste precious weight on books – take an eBook reader instead.

Which eBook reader to buy?

Some people get confused between an eBook reader and a tablet. The difference between them is that an eBook reader is black and white only, and is used solely for reading books. Tablets can be used for other purposes as well as reading such as: web-surfing, watching movies, and playing games.

Let’s start with eBook readers:

The Kindle’s operating system was recently updated. Now the home-screen of Kindle devices displays your most recently read books as well as books on your wish list and recommended books.

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2016)

This is the newest, small, and lightest version of the Kindle, weighing 4.6 ounces (130 g), and with a width of 3.4mm at its thinnest point. It comes with a classy old book-look cover which also boosts battery life while attached. It has improved back-lighting, as well as touchscreen function and page turn buttons on the right side. However, it is not waterproof which could be an issue if you’re having a beach and pool vacation (especially with kids). Overall, many have said that the high price of the Kindle Oasis is not justifiable enough when compared to the cheaper Kindle Voyage, or Kindle Paperwhite.

Kindle oasis
Amazon Kindle Oasis from $289.99


Amazon Kindle Voyage (2014)

Similar to the Kindle Oasis, the Kindle Voyage’s price was also not met with welcome arms for the array of features it has in comparison to older models. It has a higher screen resolution, as well as an improved lighting system with better contrast. Yet it is nearly 7.6 mm thick – twice the thickness of the Oasis, and weighs less than 6.3 ounces – nearly 2 ounces more than the Oasis.  Like the Oasis, it comes with a touchscreen however the page turn buttons are on wither side of the screen rather than both being located on the same side. A feature it does have, which the Oasis does not, is an automatic adaptive light sensor.

kindle voyage
Amazon Kindle Voyage from $152.00

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015) 

This version, like the newer versions, has a built in light and high-resolution 6.7 inch touchscreen. It has the same design as the original Kindle but, the screen is sharper. It also happens to be the heaviest kindle (7.3 ounces) which is the main drawback.

kindle paperwhite
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite from $119.99

Amazon Kindle Touch (2011)

One of the earlier versions of the Kindle, the Kindle touch has no built in light, and a much lower screen resolution (167 ppi in comparison to 300 ppi in newer models). It only connects via Wi-Fi (no option for free 3G like other models). It weighs 5.7 ounces – less than the Paperwhite and Voyage, while featuring the same 6” screen size as all other Kindles.

amazon kindle
Amazon Kindle from  $69.99


In short, there’s not much variation between the different versions of the Kindle. If you’re fine with the slightly outdated features of the original 2011 Kindle Touch, then that’s the best way to go if you’re on a budget.

The Kobo Aura H20 (2014)

The Kobo Aura is similar to the newer Kindle models in that it also has a sharp resolution HD touchscreen. Its screen is a little larger at 6.8 inches, and it weighs 8.2 ounces (233 g) but most importantly, it is water-proof and dust-proof. The no glare touchscreen is readable even in the sun.  There is only 4GB of space but it does have a microSD slot so you can have up to 32GB of space. It has a slower responsive time which can be a draw-back.

Unlike the Kindle, Kobo Aura has no ads. It has a battery life of 2 months if you use it on average for 30 minutes a day. With the Kobo Aura, you have more control over the font size and page margins meaning that you can format the page to how it will suit you most. The Kobo however, has a much smaller selection of e-books than Amazon’s Kindle. It does support ePUB files and Mobi files (which the Kindle does not).

I would recommend the Kobo Aura H20 if you like to read in the bath or by the pool. It’s also better for people with eyesight problems.

kobo aura h20
Kobo Aura H20 from $169.95

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Plus (2015)

Like the Kobo Aura H20, this e-reader is ad-free. It has a glare-free, scratch-resistant touch screen, sharp resolution, and a back-light. It is also lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite (the heaviest of the Kindles) weighing 6.9 ounces. Like the Kobo Aura, it is fully waterproof and dustproof. Its battery life can last up to 6 weeks. It also connects to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device so that if you realize you’ve left it at home, and have a spare moment to read, you can continue where you left off on your smartphone.

It is 6.4” high, 0.34” thick, and 4.7″wide. It has a large variety of books from Adobe DRM ePub, as well as Barnes & Noble. If you have any questions about the device or features, just walk into any branch of Barnes & Nobles and they’ll be happy to advise. All purchased books are stored free in the NOOK cloud which connects via Wi-Fi.

barnes and noble nook glowlight
Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight from $84.99

In terms of using a tablet as an eBook reader, there are 2 main options:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 (2014)

Tablets in general will have an LCD screen which means that you can have colored images, unlike eReaders which are only black and white. The Fire has a 7 inch IPS display (171 ppi) and 8 or 16 GB storage with the option to add a microSD card for more storage.

Due to it having other uses other than reading, the battery life can only last 7 hours as opposed to eReaders which can last weeks. The touchscreen itself is quick and responsive. There are more recent versions – the Fire HD 8 and HD 10. Yet ,they have a screen size of 8” and 10” which may be uncomfortably big to read on. It is also heavier than eReaders weighing 11.89 ounces (337 g).  The only reason I would recommend this is if you like to watch movies and play games as much as read books.

Kindle Fire HD 7
Amazon Fire 7 HD from $41.95

Apple iPad Air 2 (2014)

The iPad seems to dominate the field of tablets. It provides: internet browsing, movies, games, web-surfing, apps, books, colored magazines, and more. iPad Air 2 is 240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm and weighs 15.4 ounces (437 g). It is quick, has a 9.7” LED-backlit display, and low-glare screen. 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB options. If you do decide to go the Apply way, find information on how to decide between an iPad Pro, iPad mini, or iPad Air here.

ipad air 2
iPad Air 2 from $360.00

To sum up: tablets are useful in that you can use them for other uses too. But, the iPad is expensive, and using these tablet devices for other activities means the battery life will drain faster. It will also be harder to read the LCD screen in the sunlight.

If you want a good quality, ‘book-like’ feel, then I’d suggest the Kindle Touch or Paperwhite, the Kobo Aura H20, or the Nook GlowLight plus.

ebook readers

Have anything to add? Write it in the comments below!

*prices correct as of publishing date


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