Ebook readers with a light – which is the best?

by , Ebook Readers 21/11/2012
Feature

Why do I need an ebook reader with a light?

Ebook readers come with e-ink screens which make them great for reading as they don’t create eye strain like an LCD display. This is because instead of creating their own light source, they reflect existing light, so it’s like reading a piece of paper.

However, this does mean you won’t be able to read an ebook reader in the dark without a separate light source. But now the major names have all brought out their own e-ink models that come with a built-in lights to make bedtime reading that little bit easier – but which is the best?

For more information about what it takes to become a Which? Best Buy ebook reader, head to our how we test ebook readers page.

Ebook readers with lights – which models are best?

We put the three biggest names in ebooks head to head, comparing the lights on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, Barnes and Noble Nook with Glowlight and Kobo Glo. All three come with built-in lights, and we set them to maximum brightness to see how they compared.

This quick test just looked at the quality of the built-in light, but its also worth taking into account the resolution and contrast of the screen which will also make a difference when reading in low light. For a full verdict on each model read our ebook reader reviews.

Ebook readers with light

The Kobo Glo (left), Nook with Glowlight (middle) and Kindle Paperwhite (right)

Kobo Glo – the brightest and most even

Of the three ebook readers we looked at, we found the light on the Kobo Glo to be the brightest and also the most even. The light was more than bright enough to read by, and was evenly distributed throughout the screen, meaning there were no unevenly bright or dark spots which might distract the reader.

If anything we found the maximum brightness to be a bit too strong and when set to maximum could cause glare, particularly in complete darkness, but as with the other readers this can be easily adjusted. Having such a strong light could also potentially reduce battery life, so we wouldn’t recommend using it at full brightness.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite – a little patchy at the bottom

The Kindle was the second brightest of the three readers, and while the illumination seemed decent, we did find that it became a little patchy towards the bottom of the page. Four patches of darkness seemed to creep up from the casing, although in everyday use this is unlikely to cause much of a problem and you will still easily be able to read in the dark.

While it wasn’t as bright as the Kobo Glo, it provided more than enough light to read and didn’t cause a glare at its top brightness.

Barnes and Noble Nook with Glowlight – brighter at the edges

The final ebook reader was the Nook with Glowlight, and while this was the dullest of the lights it was still more than powerful enough to allow you to read comfortably .

We did find that the light wasn’t even; it’s noticeably brighter at the top of the page where the case and the screen meet. This isn’t going to be much of a problem for users and won’t prevent you reading, but it could offer a slight distraction.

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Chris

Thank you for this review. I have had 4 Kindle Paperwhites, all of them had uneven multi-color blotches across the screen. 1 from Staples, 1 from Best Buy, and 2 from Amazon. Way too distracting.

I’m going to exchange them all. I ordered a Kobo Glo today from Powell’s.

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