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(Pocket-lint) - Regardless of the saturation of tablet devices and models available at all prices, eBook readers have remained extremely popular as the device many would rather read digital books on. They don't reflect as badly as tablets, so are good in the sun, and can often be lighter and more convenient than a tablet.

However, which should you choose? The eBook reader market has been simplified since Sony's withdrawal, but there are still three main competitors at the top end, each with their own flagship devices. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo each has a recently-released model available, so which of them draws your eye the most?

We've looked at the specifications and features of the top models in each of the companies' line-ups to give you some sort of clue how they stack up.


The Amazon Kindle Voyage has a 6-inch Carta e-paper display and, in Amazon's own words, is "high resolution". Given that the company claims a pixels per inch of 300ppi, we make that out to be a 1430 x 1080 resolution.

The Kobo Aura H2O has exactly the same resolution but a lower 265ppi as it offers a much bigger 6.8-inch screen. It too uses Carta E Ink technology for better contrast and a more white looking background when lit.

Barnes & Noble's Nook GlowLight is considerably cheaper than the other devices here, but is still the company's flagship model with the latest tech, hence its inclusion. Its 6-inch screen can't match the pricier options on resolution , being just 1024 x 758 (212ppi) but with the E Ink Pearl display technology, it has as white an effect as the others.

READ: Nook GlowLight review

LED lighting

All three devices have their own LED lighting system with different benefits.

The Nook GlowLight has simple to use brightness adjustment. You just need to tap the "n" button at the bottom of the bezel to turn the light on or off. A brightness icon at the top of the screen automatically accesses the brightness slider for intensity.

Kobo's Aura H2O features ComfortLight and has even simpler brightness controls. When you are in a book you only need to slide your finger up or down the left-hand side of the screen to adjust the intensity of the light up or down.

However, the Amazon Kindle Voyage throws in possibly the biggest leap forward for the tech. It has an ambient light sensor so will automatically adjust the front light to suit the room you are in.

Unique features

Here we'll look at one of the major new features or functions that strikes each device as unique.

The Amazon Kindle Voyage has what the company is calling PagePress technology. Haptic force feedback tech in the bezel enables a user to turn pages by lightly pressing their thumb on the frame. A tactile vibration will respond to let him or her know that the page has been turned.

The Nook GlowLight has a more friendly and fun design that the other two, which both look functional but unexciting in comparison. There is also a silicon bumper around the outside that can be changed to other colours, red or blue, which are available as optional extras.

But it is perhaps the Kobo Aura H2O that brings the biggest new feature to the table: waterproofing. The Aura H2O - the clue is in the name - is able to be submerged in water to a depth of one metre for up to 30 minutes. This also means it is dustproof so can be read on a beach, for example, without fear of being ruined by sand.

READ: Kobo Aura H2O eBook reader survives our water test, perfect for the bath

Weight and size

As it has the largest screen, the Kobo Aura H2O is clearly heavier and more substantial in size. It weighs 233g and measures 179 x 129 x 9.7mm.

In terms of weight, the Kindle Voyage is next even though it's actually the smallest and thinnest device of the three. It weighs 180g for the Wi-Fi-only model, 188g for the 3G and Wi-Fi version. Measurements are 182 x 115 x 7.6mm.

The Nook GlowLight is larger than the Voyage and is the thickest but is a little lighter than Amazon's device at 175g, so will technically be more comfortable to hold for long periods. However, there's so little in it between the two 6-inchers. It measures 166 x 127 x 10.7mm.


All three devices come with 4GB of storage as standard, which is enough to hold "thousands of books", says Amazon, "up to 2,000 books", says Barnes & Noble.

The Kobo Aura H2O though is the only one to also include a microSD card slot that can expand that capacity by up to a further 32GB, which is an extraordinary amount of eBooks when you think about it.

File formats

If you're the sort of person that wants to load your own, non-DRM protected eBooks onto a device you'll need to consider the type of books your reader supports.

The Amazon Kindle Voyage has the company's general support for its own AZW and AZW3 books, plus can read TXT, PDF, MOBI and PRC eBooks.

Kobo's Aura H2O is more generic, able to read EPUB, EPUB3, PDF and MOBI eBook files. For comic book fans, it also supports CBZ and CBR packed files. And it is compatible with Adobe DRM books so can be loaded up through Adobe Digital Editions on a computer.

The Nook GlowLight is possibly the most lean in file support, with just EPUB and PDF as the eBook formats listed. However, those are the most common.

All are capable of reading the more standard of picture files.


As we've already mentioned, the Nook GlowLight is by far the cheapest of the devices here, even though its Barnes & Noble's flagship eBook reader. Even at its original price of £89 it represents good value for money, but Barnes & Noble has discounted it for the Christmas 2015 period (from 19 - 28 December) to £69.

The Kobo Aura H2O is next in price, costing £139.99.

While the Amazon Kindle Voyage is the priciest of the bunch, costing £169 for the Wi-Fi-only version and a relatively hefty £229 for the model with 3G as well. That does mean that you can buy and download books when out and about, but makes the most expensive option in this round up a staggering £140 more than the cheapest.

You could buy a Nook GlowLight and a Kobo Aura H2O for the price of a 3G Amazon Kindle Voyage.


Prices might vary, but we feel confident in putting all three of these eBook readers together in a round-up. They each offer something different for a different kind of reader really.

If you spend most of the time on the beach or, even, read a lot in the bath you might want to consider the Kobo Aura H2O. If you are a bit more fun and free-going and want a light device you can just throw in a bag, you could try the Nook GlowLight. And if you read more in the dark at night, the self-adjusting light on the Kindle Voyage might be best suited to you.

The biggest thing that will make most minds up though is the store each device connects to in order to buy books. All three, Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble offer millions of books at reasonable prices, but if you are already a customer at one or the other, that's most likely where you'll be happiest staying. After all, your existing content will work seamlessly with your new reader.

If you are completely a newbie to the market, we hope we've provided enough information to help you make your choice.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 18 September 2014.