Best Kindle 2016 - A Guide to Amazon's E-Readers

If your favorite vacations are those you spend reading by the pool, or if you can't possibly fall asleep without finishing one more chapter, an Amazon e-reader such as the $119 Kindle Paperwhite is a must-own. These E Ink devices are lightweight, easy to read in direct sunlight and as close to a paperback — without the bulk — that you can get. Plus, these days, they are almost the only game in town. It helps that Amazon is very good at this game.

* Based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light set at 10. ** Based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off.

Why Kindles?

Amazon wasn't the first company to release an E Ink e-reader (that was Sony, which launched the Librie in 2004), but the Kindle's release in 2007 sold out in 5 hours. That initial success was likely due to Amazon's huge library of e-content. Kindles have remained best sellers because of the quality and extra features. The sharp 6-inch displays on all three of Amazon's e-readers are easy on the eyes, thanks to the tablets' glare-free touch screens. With 4GB of storage, these devices can hold thousands of e-books.

Amazon Kindle e-readers offer the company's excellent FreeTime Unlimited parental controls and child profiles. Plus, through the integration of the Goodreads social network, avid readers can connect with fellow bookworms and get new book suggestions.

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Through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service, you can get unlimited e-books for $9.99 per month. Of course, you can borrow e-books from the public library or even from your friends. And if you've finished a book you've bought and decide you want a physical copy, you can use Amazon's Kindle MatchBook program to get a discounted paper version.

Through the Family Library feature, you can link two Amazon accounts to share books across devices. Each adult account will retain its own furthest page read location, notes, highlights and social media connections. To link accounts on a Kindle you have to go into Menu > Settings > Registration And Household > Household And Family Library. From there, you tap Add A New Person and Add Adult. You’ll need the new person to enter their Amazon account ID and password.

You can also add up to four child profiles under Amazon Households. You’ll follow all the same procedures, but will tap Add Child instead of Add Adult at the end. Parents can then hand select which books their child can access.

For those looking to broaden their horizons, Amazon embeds a vocabulary builder and dictionary definitions within texts.

Each of these devices, which cost from $79 to $199, boasts a broad range of special features that makes it unique.

How We Tested

In addition to evaluating e-readers' size, weight, claimed battery life and design choices (such as page turns), we run a couple of tests on E Ink devices. If a Kindle offers a backlighting option, we test its brightness using our light meter. We compare page-turn speeds against its competition, too. The experience of reading on the device plays a huge role in these reviews. For instance, we look at the intuitiveness of the interface, the size of the available library of content and how well the special features (such as a Web browser or dictionary) work.

* Based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light set at 10.

** Based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off.

* Based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light set at 10.

Other E-Readers Reviewed

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  • I also like the Kindle, but would like to have an e-reader that can use some android reading applications. Do you have a recommendation? Thank you
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  • For E Ink, e-readers, you're really stuck with that company's platform. However, the Amazon Fire Tablet ($50; http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/tablets/amazon-fire-tablet) features a new reading mode. This makes it easier to read, despite it being a full-color LCD display. Plus, you get all the other bonuses that come with a full tablet such as Android reading apps, movies, games, and other apps.
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