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Why the Amazon Kindle is a bibliophile's digital must-have

Even if you own an iPad or tablet device, a Kindle is a worthy investment, according to one tech expert. Here’s why.
Any phone or tablet can read books through Amazon’s Kindle app or through a similar competitor like Apple Books. But the Kindle e-reader is totally different, argues one tech expert.
Any phone or tablet can read books through Amazon’s Kindle app or through a similar competitor like Apple Books. But the Kindle e-reader is totally different, argues one tech expert.Amazon

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Since its original launch in 2007, Amazon has released over 15 different versions of its Kindle e-readers, making it hard to keep up with each new iteration. But with its incredible E Ink screen and a starting price tag under $100, the current Kindle — and its higher-end siblings — are must-haves for any bookworm.

Do I need a Kindle if I have an iPad?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Any phone or tablet can read books through Amazon’s Kindle app or through a similar competitor like Apple Books. But the Kindle e-reader is totally different, and well worth a purchase even if you have a tablet — and that’s coming from someone who’s a big fan of the iPad and its many uses.

The Kindle’s screen uses E Ink rather than a traditional LED screen. It’s black-and-white, doesn’t require a backlight and looks much more like a piece of paper than a computer screen. Lacking these battery-diluting properties gives you weeks — yes, weeks — of battery life instead of hours. And it’s better for reading at night, when you want to cut down on backlit screen time.

It’s also great for reading outdoors. While a tablet is nearly useless in direct sunlight, a Kindle is perfect for reading in the backyard or at the beach. (It does have an optional light built-in if you don’t have enough ambient light, but I prefer using my bedside lamp.)

Even if you have a good tablet, Amazon’s e-reader is a worthy addition to your summer gadget toolkit.

Kindles aren’t just for books, either. While browsing the web on the Kindle isn’t exactly a snappy, enjoyable experience, you can visit your favorite websites in a pinch. I prefer to save articles I find online with Pocket, then send them to my Kindle weekly with an online tool called P2K. I even use Kindle Comic Converter to send black-and-white comic books to my Kindle, and apps like Calibre can even create digital “magazines” from your favorite websites that get sent to your Kindle over Wi-Fi. All three Kindle models come with built-in Bluetooth, too, so you can connect your wireless earbuds and listen to audiobooks on Audible.

In other words: the Kindle is incredibly versatile, and even if you have a good tablet, Amazon’s e-reader is a worthy addition to your summer gadget toolkit. If you’re thinking of diving into the space, you’ll come across a slew of options. To help guide you, we break down below the entire Amazon Kindle suite, which currently includes three main Kindle models: the Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite, and the Kindle Oasis.

1. Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s base model Kindle costs $89, which is a steal for what you get. Its 4GB of storage can hold thousands of books — more than you could ever read at once — and its 6-inch glare-free screen is fantastic for reading without harsh backlights straining your eyes. You can grab it in black or white, and up the price to $109 if you don’t want ads on your home screen (don’t worry, they aren’t intrusive).

Kindle Kids Edition

Amazon also sells a Kindle Kids Edition — its innards and design are identical to that of the Kindle’s — for $109 with a bundled case, a year of Amazon’s kid-friendly FreeTime Unlimited service, and a 2-year warranty.

2. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

If you have a bit more to spend, the Kindle Paperwhite offers a few upgrades. It has a higher-density screen for sharper text, 8GB of storage (or 32GB if you really need the extra space), and boasts IPX8 water-resistance — you know, just in case it accidentally goes for a swim in the bathtub or the ocean.

Since I use my Kindle for magazines and comics alongside books, the sharper screen on the Paperwhite is a noticeable improvement, so it’s currently my Kindle of choice. I also recommend getting a protective case — Amazon has its own covers that are quite nice, but third-party options offer built-in stands and more colorful designs. I use this model from MoKo, and my wife likes this Fintie cover/stand combo.

3. Amazon Kindle Oasis

The higher-end Kindle Oasis is twice the price of the Paperwhite, but comes fully loaded with a premium aluminum build and all the features you could ever want in a Kindle. The screen is slightly bigger at 7 inches. It equips a brighter, more uniform lighting system that you can adjust for a warmer hue that isn’t quite as blue-ish — or you can let it automatically adjust to match the light in your room. And actual buttons on the right allow for easier one-handed reading, too, a big plus for readers who prefer a tactile design.

The Oasis is undoubtedly a nice e-reader, and ideal if you do most of your reading at home. If you want something portable you can toss around without worry, the lower-cost Kindle and Paperwhite might be better options.

In addition, don’t confuse the Kindle line with Amazon’s Fire Tablets, which were once confusingly called “Kindle Fire.” These aren’t e-readers; they’re low-cost tablets, with a traditional backlit screen, full color and an app store that allows for streaming TV and movies, games or productivity tools. It’s a decent tablet for its low cost but it’s nowhere near as good as an iPad — and if you want something to read books on, I think the Kindle is a much more suitable choice.

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