Kindle Paperwhite (2013) £109
Nobody knows quite why Amazon decided to update its market-leading product with such minor tweaks, but neither do they mind very much. The new version of the Paperwhite retains all the best features of its predecessor, but reflects the LED backlighting more evenly across the page, whereas previously it concentrated on the bottom edge of the screen, which also lights up slightly whiter.
Pages also refresh less frequently, producing less flashing, and making the device one of the best available. However, it does lack a dedicated on/off switch for the backlight, unlike the Kobo Aura, and even with Amazon’s ample range of reading material, some usersmay find it off putting that it can only read the retailer’s content.
Stats: Battery lasts two months, 1,024×768 resolution screen, 7.3 ounces, 1.25GB storage
Nook SimpleTouch Glowlight (£49)
Barnes & Noble’s aggressive price-slashing of its ereader to encourage take-up belies its nearly faultless production and content.
A real rival to the Kindle, the Nook also provides some lovely rubber thumb pads either side of the screen, which allow you to avoid swiping your dirty fingers across the screen in order to turn a page. The backlight is arguably not as good as the Kindle’s, but to the average user the difference is little, and the text appears sharper than it does on the Kindle with the light on.
The e-ink is superior to that of the Kindle, and produces a sharp, clear page which is closer to that of a real book than anything else on the market, while it’s the lightest Nook yet, at 7.48 ounces. Another plus is its welcoming attitude to third-party software, supporting ePub and PDF.
Stats: Battery lasts two months, 600×800 resolution screen, supports ePub, PDF, less than 7 ounces, 1GB storage
Kobo Aura (£119)
A worthy rival to the Nook and Kindle, the Aura is the new kid on the block. Despite the competition, Kobo’s cut out a good share of the market for itself with great product offerings, and this one could be a game-changer.
The Aura features an edge-to-edge display which flush with the surface of the device, rather than having a screen embedded within a frame, like its competitors. It also boasts what Kobo says is "the most even front-light" of any device, though the text can look slightly blue if the light’s ramped up to its maximum setting.
Another benefit of the Aura is its whopping 4GB storage. Its online shop is more expensive generally than B&N and Amazon, but the fact that it supports ePub, PDF and Mobi formats means you can shop elsewhere and add new books by connecting the Aura to your computer.
Stats: Battery lasts two months, 1014 x 758 resolution screen, supports ePub, PDF and Mobi, 174g, 4GB storage
iPad Mini (£269)
This is a pricey option for an ereader, but Apple’s tablet is geared to those who want to do other things besides.
It barely seems necessary to outline the many capabilities of the iPad, but as a quick recap it’s enough to say that you can browse the web, use hundreds of thousands of apps, do most of the things you rely on a computer for plus watch videos.
That means you can catch up with your favourite TV show before cracking on with that thriller. What’s more, the Mini gives access to the most epublications as well – all in full colour, an important point for keen magazine readers.
The downside to the iPad is the constantly refreshing screen – nothing like a real book, never mind the brightness of the white background. It reflects badly in direct sunlight, but at Christmas that won’t be the first thing on people’s minds.
Stats: Battery lasts 10 hours,1024-by-768 resolution screen, supports PDF, TXT, EPUB, MOBI, PRC, HTML and DOC, 312g, 16/32/64GB storage
Kindle Fire HD (£119)
This device lets you catch up with videos, browse the web, and virtually anything else as well as reading a book. And it’s a lot cheaper than an Apple device. With Amazon’s vast library of content you have access to 22m films, shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, apps and games. So enough to while away a train journey or two.
Again, the same downsides apply: the refreshing screen will annoy some people, and the 11-hour battery life could be a pain on excursions.
Stats: Battery lasts 11 hours, 1280 x 800 resolution screen, supports Amazon books, 395g, 12.6GB storage