Amazon has completely dominated the ebook reader market, but you don’t have to use a Kindle to get your ebook fix. There are a surprising number of ebook reader alternatives, and many of them are actually better than the Kindle.
Tablets, like the iPad, may be great for streaming video and playing games. But they make for inconvenient ebook readers. They’re expensive, they have short battery life, and their displays can be a bit aggressive on the eyes. Plus, tablets are the ultimate portable distraction. How can you sit down and read when Youtube’s siren song is just a gesture away?
Because of the tablet’s shortcomings, typical ebook readers are still the best way to consume digital books. And although the Kindle is synonymous with the term “ebook reader,” there are a lot of good reasons to stay away from Amazon’s flagship reading device.
Now, this isn’t to say that the Kindle is a bad ebook reader. They’re powerful, they last a long time, and you can buy one for just $50. But the Kindle has one very big problem—it’s tethered to the Amazon marketplace. You can’t use the Kindle to open EPUB files or PDFs (unless you want to put in an enormous amount of effort). If you want more flexibility from an ebook reader then your aversion the Kindle is completely understandable.
Lucky for you, we’ve tracked down some of the best Kindle alternatives on the market. These ebook readers have their ups and downs, but they all give you the ability to escape from (or work alongside) Amazon’s ebook market.
Kobo Aura H20 ($160)
The Kobo Aura H20 is by far the most popular Kindle alternative. It’s made Rakuten, a popular Japanese corporation, and it actually blows the Kindle out of the water in terms of physical features and file usability. Plus, it doesn’t have annoying special offers on the lockscreen.
This ebook reader has a backlit screen with an adjustable blue light filter, robust font settings, and a relatively large 6.8″ e-ink touchscreen. Like the newest version of the Kindle, the Kubo Aura H20 has 8GB of memory, a 1 GHz processor, Wi-Fi compatibility, a micro USB port, and a battery that lasts for a few weeks. It also has a water-resistant IPX8 rating, which means that it can sit in 2 meters of water for an hour before sustaining any damage.
Kobo ebook readers support up to 14 file formats, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, TXT, TIFF, and HTML. You can transfer these files to the ebook reader via micro USB cable. But there’s also a dedicated Kobo e-book store, and you can use Kobo ebook readers to remotely borrow books from your library.
The Kobo Aura H20 can’t open AZW files (Amazon books), but you can use a software like Calibre to convert AZW files to the EPUB format.