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Best Ereaders for Students and Teachers

Best ereaders
(Image credit: Future)

The best ereaders might seem like an easy thing to find for teachers and students, but thanks to the growing popularity they're now many in number and pretty tough to narrow down to just one. 

The big name in the world of E Ink displaying gadgets is Amazon with its famous Kindle devices, but there are worthy competitors from the likes of Kobo and Barnes & Noble. What you need to think about before committing to one is what you are going to use the device for.

Since this guide is for teachers and students, it's likely you're using this primarily for class and home study. So will you need a backlit display or are you going to be mostly in lit situations? Another factor is size, with larger options available that could be better suited to academics reading textbooks and letter-sized documents. And are those books library-loaned or bought? That's a factor for brand choice, as you'll see below.

Screen resolution is also an important factor as the higher this is, the clearer your page will look. Color is another consideration, but this is still new tech and doesn't look great so if this is what you need – for textbook imagery, comics, or stories – we'd recommend going for a tablet instead.

But if it's an ereader you need, then read on to find out all you could want to know.

Best Ereader For Class

1. Kindle Paperwhite: Best Ereader Overall

Kindle Paperwhite

(Image credit: Amazon)

Kindle Paperwhite

The do-it-all ereader for most needs

Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 7.37oz | Backlit: Yes

Affordable price
Clear display
IPX8 waterproof
Boring design
Not the biggest screen

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) is the model of ereader from a lineage that put these E Ink devices into the limelight. Not only did the Kindle start off the paperless reading revolution, but it's been improving constantly with new releases that result in the current model, which is by far the best yet. Despite all the improvements, this manages to remain one of the most affordable ereader options out there, too.

Despite being the thinnest and lightest Paperwhite yet, this manages to offer a crisp 6-inch, 300ppi backlit display with super fast refresh rates for near instant page turns. There's a lot of storage space, at up to 32GB, so you won't need to worry about filling this up. Packing in both WiFi and cellular connections, you can be connected to new reading material anywhere, be it in the class or outside.

Crucially, this model comes with IPX8 waterproofing, making it a rugged device that can withstand living in a school bag on the move and even being read in the rain. Or take this into the bath and you won't have to worry about it getting wet.

Battery life isn't the best, compared to the older model, but that's still superb so you get days, or even a week, of plentiful use before needing a charge.


2. Onyx Boox Note Air: Best big screen ereader

Onyx Boox Note Air

(Image credit: Onyx)

Onyx Boox Note Air

The big screen option that also offers a pen and apps

Screen size: 10.3-inch | Resolution: 226ppi | Weight: 14.8oz | Backlit: Yes

Large, clear display
Pen support
Lots of apps available
Expensive
Pen not great with third-party apps

The Onyx Boox Note Air is a huge tablet of a device that remains lightweight and svelte thanks to a gorgeous design. That does mean it isn't cheap but you get a lot for your money.

The centerpiece is that 10.3-inch backlit display that offers 226ppi for a relatively high resolution and clear, crisp text. Crucially, this also works for images as this device can be used with an included stylus pen to draw, annotate, and edit documents – all ideal for teacher use. With PDF support and a selection of backlight colors, from warm yellow to vibrant blue, this is a great way to read and edit documents on the move or in class.

This ereader has access to the Google Play Store, so a lot of apps are available, but with that monochrome screen you are a little limited. That said, this is far more expensive than many other ereaders out there, competing more against tablets – which helps to justify the price.


3. Kobo Clara HD: Best for library reading

Kobo Clara HD

(Image credit: Kobo)

Kobo Clara HD

The perfect model for checking out and reading library books digitally

Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 5.9oz | Backlit: Yes

Top public library support
Color-changing light
Wide file support
Super portable
Not waterproof

The Kobo Clara HD is the company's answer to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, only this one doesn't come with waterproofing – but it has a trade off. Instead of that, it is built to give you access to the U.S. public library book selection wherever Overdrive is used. That makes this an ideal ereader for students and teachers who want access to digital tons of reading materials.

But that's not all, you also get that 300ppi, 6-inch display, plus this device comes with a color-changing backlight. You can read a textbook in bright blue light, or settle down at bed into a fiction novel with a warm, yellow sepia color.

This is a compact unit that's light, easy to hold one-handed, works quickly with a clear display, and offers extensive battery life that goes for weeks on a single charge. Plus, it'll open all sorts of file formats, unlike a Kindle, meaning access to EPUB, PDF, RTF, and even CMZ and JPEG for comic books and images. Add in the fact this is affordably priced – plus you can rent rather than buy books – and this is a serious contender.


4. Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3: Best for physical buttons

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3

(Image credit: Barnes & Noble)

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3

A great physical buton toting option

Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 6.7oz | Backlit: Yes

Sharp screen
Color-changing backlight
Physical page turn buttons
ePub support
Limited book selection
Slow UI

The Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3 offers a throwback design feature that many ereaders have done away with: physical buttons. So if you're a fan of having a button to press when flicking through pages, then this is the one for you. You still get a super clear 6-inch and 300ppi display, only flanked with buttons. The Kindle Oasis also offers buttons but at a real premium.

The downside here is that you have a smaller library of books available to you when compared to the likes of Amazon's Kindle. What this does have is a color-changing backlight and an easy way to access ePub books, especially if you enjoy side-loading these.


5. Kindle Oasis: Best premium ereader

Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: Amazon)

Kindle Oasis

For pure luxury and premium features, this is the one

Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 6.6oz | Backlit: Yes

Premium build and features
Adjustable backlight
Ergonomic feel
IPX8 waterproof
Expensive

The Kindle Oasis could be at the top of this list if it wasn't for the price. Yet it does justify that amount as it is superbly designed for the most premium reading experience. That includes an ergonomic design, with a side ridge for easy and comfortable one-handed reading. It also has a larger-than-most 7-inch display and IPX8 waterproofing. 

The side ridge features buttons for easy one-handed page turning and it can be turned upside down making it work for both left- and right-handed reading. The adjustable backlight can work automatically based on time of day, offering bright blue light in the day and warm yellow in the evening.

Expect a battery life of up to six weeks, optional 4G connectivity, and up to 32GB of storage, all making this one of the most powerful ereaders available. The fact it gives you access to the mighty library of books Amazon offers is a bonus. 

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.