Gone are the days of the virtually unchallenged Amazon hegemony in the eBook reader market. The retailer's sales-smashing Kindles now have some very worthy competitors, with Barnes & Noble and Kobo among the manufacturers producing increasingly innovative devices that continue to draw acclaim.
The increasing competition saw Amazon add a higher-end, back-lit model to its range this year in the Kindle Paperwhite, but the presence of the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight (from Barnes & Noble) and the Kobo Glo is making for a very crowded marketplace. To see which device should be crowned eBook reading king, we've compared and contrasted their specifications, so read on...
Size and weight
For many of us, size and weight will be among the most important criteria when deciding which reading device we should be buying. A good eBook reader should not make its presence overtly felt in your bag or pocket, and should be easy to pull out and fire up on a busy commute. The Kobo Glo therefore claims an important victory over its rivals, with its 185g weight making it fractionally lighter than the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight (below) and nearly 30g lighter than Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, while also being the smallest of the trio. And because its compact form factor doesn’t compromise on screen-size, the Kobo Glo is a hardware triumph.
At the top of Amazon’s Kindle range, the Paperwhite represents a significant upgrade on display quality from the rest of the famous line, and with a 1,024 x 768 pixel resolution, it offers the sharpest read from these three - on paper at least. In fairness, the Kobo Glo all but matches this at 1,024 x 758 pixels, but the Nook lags behind with its older E Ink Pearl technology only producing a 600 x 800 pixel resolution. All of the models include the welcome bonus of a lit display for reading in the dark.
Amazon’s eBook store is widely regarded as the strongest on the market, offering over a million titles and 200,000 Kindle exclusives that help to give it the edge over its rivals. The Paperwhite (below), along with the Nook Simple Touch, also offers support for audiobooks – something the Kobo Glo does not. The Kindles may currently be backed up by the most extensive catalogue (which often includes the most competitive prices) but as rival eBook readers eat up increasing market share, the respective libraries could well begin to even out.
With eBook readers typically promising between one and two months of battery life, it can be difficult to compare their claims in practice – particularly when you have such a range of power-affecting factors such as the amount of page turns made, the Wi-Fi usage, and the light settings. But low power consumption has become a hallmark of eBook readers and any device worth its salt – including each of these models – does not require frequent charging. Barnes & Noble nevertheless hopes to claim a battery win over the competition here, with its Nook apparently lasting for over two months based on 30 minutes of reading per day.
Having produced such a credible piece of technology, Kobo deserves praise for keeping the Glo’s price under that of the competition at £103, the Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight both coming in at £109
As far as we’re concerned, this lower price point seals the deal for the Kobo Glo (above) as the winner of this three-way contest. It matches its peers across the board on the spec sheet, and indeed stands out for being the smallest and lightest of the trio while still maintaining that sizeable 6in display. Much of the user experience will nevertheless depend on the eBook library at your disposal, so consider doing some price comparisons on the titles you’re likely to be downloading before making your eBook reader purchase.
|Nook Simple Touch Glowlight||Kindle Paperwhite||Kobo Glo|
|Screen technology||E Ink Pearl||Paperwhite Built-in light||E Ink XGA Pearl|
|Claimed battery life||Over 2 months (“based on 30 mins reading per day”)||8 weeks (wireless off)||1 month (“based Based on 30mins per day”)|
|Size (L x W x D)||165 x 127 x 12mm||170 x 117 x 9mm||157 x 114 x 10mm|
Click here to buy the Kindle Paperwhite
Click here to buy the Kobo Glo