Is there a better ereader than the Kindle Paperwhite today?
March 16, 2021 3:49 PM   Subscribe

My trusty Kindle Paperwhite is approaching 6 years old and showing it. I'm investigating new ones and before I just buy another Kindle I wanted to make sure that I'm not making a rash decision and overlooking something better from the competition.

I read on my Kindle for at least an hour on an average day. I've bought most, but not all, of my books from Amazon, but use Calibre to manage my collection. I do also read books I borrow from my local library via Overdrive/Libby. I make heavy use of highlights, which I export via to Evernote.

I like the form factor of the Paperwhite and e-ink. I do wish that the Kindle made it easier to take notes, in text, but that's not a deal breaker. I also wish it did a better job of collection management. I'd rather just keep my entire book collection available on the Kindle, but it's such a pain to manage that it's not worth the effort for me. I also wouldn't mind not being quite so dependent on the Amazon infrastructure and all that involves.

I know that the competition for the Paperwhite is usually the Kobo Clara. I also noticed the Kobo H20, but the weird handle(?) on the side kind of throws me. (I am willing to spend a bit more for something I use and enjoy as much as I do my e-reader).

I'm also in Canada, if that makes any difference.

Are there other models I should consider? What factors make a Clara better than a Kindle or an H20 better than a Paperwhite (or even an Oasis for that matter)?
posted by synecdoche to Shopping (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I think the primary reason to use Kobo is to be out of the Kindle ecosystem. Another reason is its great Overdrive integration.

Specifically: the Clara has double the storage of the Kindle Paperwhite and built-in blue light protection for reading at night. The H20 has most of the features of the Oasis (minus the ambient light detection, but plus blue light filtering), but is significantly cheaper.
posted by rednikki at 4:12 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Canadian reader as well, and once Sony got out of the eReader game, I went to Kobo and stuck with it. I've been using a Forma for a couple of years and am a very happy, voracious reader. I've recently noticed that I have to charge it a bit more often than when it was new, maybe every 3-4 days?. Kobo reads more formats, the Overdrive is seamless, and I love their "Series" feature which lets you explore, buy, borrow books from a series. Should also mention that I also love Kobo Plus, $10 per month for access to a large catalog of Kobo Plus books (the entire Kobo catalog is not available, just certain books). I download about 10 books per month on the plan, and between it and Overdrive have always got something good to read without a significant expenditure. This is great, because I go through 1-2 books for pleasure a week.
posted by angiep at 4:25 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to most modern ebook readers (I still use a ancient Nook), but I almost always go to the Wirecutter for things like this, and maybe there's something about their current roundup that will help you.
posted by General Malaise at 4:37 PM on March 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I recommend the Clara all the time. It's very simple, the type is nice, it supports a lot of formats, and the battery life and frontlight are great. Build quality isn't as good as the Paperwhite, but mine has continued working through lots of falls.

I also have the Forma (bigger, nicer version of the H2O) and I thought I'd hate the handle but it isn't bad at all. The buttons aren't great though (kind of a Kobo trend).

All these are pretty old devices, so there might be new ones coming out in the next 6 months, but I'd still recommend the Clara for anyone looking for a Paperwhite replacement.

An alternative if you wanted something a little wilder is the Boox Poke 3. I looove the hardware on this thing, even if the OS is a little more convoluted. You can run more Android apps and stuff on it if you're interested. Boox also has some larger ones that do handwriting.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:46 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I bought the Forma, which has the same body as the H20, and there's an extended bezel on the side with physical page buttons, which is why I spent the amount of money I did on it. I haaate screen-swipe page-turns, it forces me to hold my hand in a very uncomfortable position to reach the correct part of the screen and even with an aftermarket hand strap it leaves the base of my thumb aching after half an hour of reading.

The screen reorients when you flip it, so I can read and page-turn with my right hand, turn it over and page-turn with my left hand, and then flip it buttons-down and use either hand in landscape mode.

I love it. Money well spent.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:54 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I won't thread-sit but one question about Kobo: is it as easy to extract highlights and notes made in e-books?
posted by synecdoche at 4:59 PM on March 16, 2021

The big arguments for the Kobo have been made upthread.

I am a fan of the Android-based e-ink reader-writers from Likebook, Mobiscribe and Onyx Boox, all of which allow you to use different kinds of reading apps in the same device (i.e. Libby, Scribd, Kobo, Kindle, and sideloaded files), as well as allowing you to mark up sideloaded files with a pen, or just use the reader as a notetaker. (I keep one in my purse and does what I used to need several books, notebooks and pens to do; I have another, larger one that I use to mark up PDFs, or to take notes on while I read something in the Kindle app.)

It really depends on your use case, though. If you're mostly reading for pleasure, dedicated devices like Kindle and Kobo can be better because of their superior battery life and streamlined OS. (The Android-based reader-writers are all a little beta in their software.)
posted by hungrytiger at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really wanted to like the Likebook Mars, but found the Android version of the Kindle reading app on an eInk screen to be a dealbreaker. None of the alternative reading apps were satisfactory either. It’s a decent eInk tablet, but since I wanted it primarily for reading and secondarily for tablet apps, it went back to Amazon.
posted by lhauser at 8:59 PM on March 16, 2021

synecdoche, I don't use this feature much but as far as I can tell it's pretty tightly integrated in the reading portion (you can review all notes/highlights, skip to the page etc), but the export feature is for some reason hidden. You can enable it this way, looks like. I don't have my reader handy or I'd test this for you right now. I'll check later and let you know, if you haven't decided one way or the other yet.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:23 PM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'll check later and let you know, if you haven't decided one way or the other yet.

Thanks, BlackLeotardFront—I would appreciate that. It's an important feature for me.
posted by synecdoche at 5:19 AM on March 17, 2021

I have a Boox Nova2 and it's an excellent device. 12 minute review here and 2 hour indepth review with chapter stops here.

For reasons too complicated to mention, I actually have 2 and am about to sell one. Shoot me a memail if you want details. I'm also in Canada (Toronto).
posted by dobbs at 5:58 AM on March 17, 2021

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