The Kindle may look like a regular tablet, but like all e-readers, it uses a completely different type of display technology. Rather than displaying text on a self-illuminating screen, the Kindle uses a special e-ink display that’s illuminated by ambient light, giving it the appearance of ordinary, physical paper.
This means the Kindle is as comfortable to read as any book or magazine, while still retaining all the useful features of reading on a tablet. They store tens of thousands of books, you can buy and download new ones almost instantly, they have battery life measured in weeks, and you can do things like highlight passages, adjust font size, and look up word definitions as you read.
Amazon’s range includes four Kindles in four price ranges, each designed for different types of reading devices. On the two cheapest Kindles, you can pay $10 less and have product ads appear on the lock screen (or pay $10 more to remove them, if you want to see it that way). There are also children’s versions of two of these Kindles, which are identical to the basic versions but come with an additional children’s book subscription and a child-friendly cover.
Keep in mind that with any Kindle, it’s still possible to download e-books from places outside of Amazon’s own store, or even borrow them from your local library. And while Kindle has cornered the market, it’s not the only pony at the rodeo — check out our roundup of the best e-readers if you’re a Bezos-averse bookworm.
So which Kindle is the best? That depends on how much you want to spend, how often you use it, the size of your hands, whether you usually read in bed, and whether you’re about to fall into a swimming pool. Read on for a full rundown of the differences between each Kindle, how they compare, and which ones you should buy.
We’ve used all four Amazon Kindle devices since their launch, with most of our reading taking place on the new Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis. We’ve taken these e-readers on planes, trains, and cars, and we’ve used them in bright, direct sunlight as well as in the middle of the night. We also tested the built-in Audible feature, which allows you to switch between reading and listening to a book, on devices that have this feature.