Can The Kindle Be Dethroned? Here's Our Ultimate E-Reader Showdown

kindle nook kobo title image

Photo: Ellis Hamburger

The Kindle 3 has been the champ in our minds for a while now, but two brand new touchscreen competitors just came out: the Nook Simple Touch and the Kobo E-Reader Touch.How do these e-ink readers stack up?

We have them all, we’ve taken some big pictures, and we’ll show you which one has the best page refresh rate, how long each one lasts, and which has the crispest text.

The kindle is the biggest by a long shot. We're not sure if we like the Nook's square form factor.

The Kindle feels great to hold because of its vertical orientation. Since it's not a touch screen, you don't have to worry about accidentally flipping the page when you hold it.

Because the Kobo is so thin and not much space is left for holding, you often end up turning the page by accident.

The Kindle offers the greatest amount of settings

The Nook lets you alter margins and fonts

The Kobo has the least amount of customisation

The Kobo is thinner than the Nook, but it ends up being a bad thing because it's harder to hold

Here are the Nook and the Kobo compared.

The Nook is a lot shorter than the Kindle, but it's a touch wider. The square shape looks kind of strange.

Reading the Nook feels less like reading a book and more like reading a futuristic e-ink tablet. Is this a good thing? We don't think so.

The Nook looks thicker than the Kindle, but it makes up for it by tapering inward on each side so it's easy to hold

Here's a view of the back of the Nook. It's really a joy to hold.

The Kobo (middle) has a fancy pattern you can feel with your fingers. It has no real practical value like the Nook's ridges, however.

Here's the Kobo's plasticky power switch. The device just isn't built as well as the Nook or Kindle.

Text on the Kindle has high contrast and looks the best. Blacks look the blackest on Kindle.

Text on the Nook looks good, but not great. There's noticeable jagginess on letters

The Kobo's text looked the worst, and remnants of previous pages stay burned in for a few page turns.

Here's a comparison of the text on Kobo (left) and Nook (right)

We think text looks better on the Kindle (left) than on the Nook (right), but not by much

How does each e-reader fare in terms of page-turning speed?

How's the battery on each device, and how much does each one cost? Also, a note on page-turning.

Kobo: 1 month, $129.99

Kindle: 2 months, $139.99

Nook: 2 months, $139.99

A note on page-turning: while the Kindle 'flashes a black screen' annoyingly during every page turn, you get used to it pretty quickly. The Nook and Kobo only 'flash' every so often, which makes the reading experience more immersive.

But, sometimes it ends up being a distraction because the screen flashes unpredictably and contains more remnants of previous pages. It's a trade off.

One more note: the Kobo often has has to load pages so you can't turn the page for a few seconds sometimes. It's bothersome.

How big is the book library for each device?

The Kobo store has 500,000 eBooks, and 1.8 million free eBooks

The Amazon Kindle store now has about one million eBooks, and one million free eBooks

The Barnes and Noble store has about one million eBooks, and one million free eBooks.

It's really tough to tell exactly how many each store has, however, because they often include how many free eBooks they have in their catalogues.

Want more in depth? Check out our article on why Amazon's Kindle Store is the best e-bookstore.

The final tally. Which one should you buy?

If you value an amazing book store, a strong developer community (like this and this) and a nostalgic book-like form factor, the Kindle 3 is for you.

We think, just like with the iPhone, the best book store (or app store) is a much bigger deal than hardware when choosing a product. In this case, it's not about selection as much as it is about how personable the experience is. Also, another Kindle is likely coming out within the next couple months.

If you value a cutting-edge touchscreen, a more modern interface, and a more comfortable to hold (if distractingly odd to look at) form factor, then the Simple Touch Nook is for you. This is a very close second place, we think.

The Kobo really isn't for anybody. It has the smallest bookstore, the laggiest menu system, the blurriest screen, and the worst battery life of the three.

Touch screen e-readers may be the future, but we didn't really care much when comparing these three devices. A touch screen is not a 'killer feature' in our opinion, especially since there isn't a cool page-turning animation like on an iPad.

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