Reviewed: The best tablets for reading

Ebooks and magazines are booming - and with both tablets and e-readers now cheaper than they've ever been, it's a good time to buy.

Ebook sales are nearly doubling year on year - and the launch of seven-inch tablets such as Google's Nexus 7 and iPad Mini have also seen a boom in magazines built for colour tablets.

But ebook readers such as Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite are very different machines from colour tablets - and which to choose depends on what sort of reader you are.

For long sessions reading a novel, no tablet can keep up with black-and-white e-readers - offering comfortable reading without eye-strain.

But for magazines, or even reference books, colour tablets can be a tempting option - offering glossy pictures, animations and video.

With both tablets and e-readers now cheaper than they've ever been, it's a good time to buy. The real question is which one to go for.

[Related: Get the best prices on new tablets here]

Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s all-conquering Kindle is still one of the best e-readers available, and at under £70 also one of the cheapest. Its six-inch E Ink pearl display has a 16-level grey scale that makes it as easy to read as a paperback even in sunlight and at 170 grams it’s lighter than many printed tomes.

This is a no frills e-reader at its purest. The built-in WiFi lets you download and save up to 1,400 books to the 2GB memory at around 60 seconds a download. You’re restricted only to Amazon’s Kindle library - it is possible to load others via a PC, but it's fiddly - but with 1.5million books, magazines and newspapers alongside 200,000 exclusives, you should be able to find plenty to read. The one-month battery life is a boon too.

Apple iPad Mini
From £269

We’ve picked the Mini over the iPad for its diminutive e-reader-esque size and weight, but at its heart this is still a powerful tablet that comes with a price range and battery life to match.

A pleasure to play with thanks to its beautiful design and huge range of apps, the Mini is also an accomplished e-reader. The 7.9-inch screen is clear and vibrant (though not a Retina display), and with its numerous apps you have access to Apple’s iBookstore (which has plenty of free books), Kindle and Kobo, not to mention audiobooks from the likes of Audible, meaning a vast range of reads at competitive prices, so you’re more likely to find what you want.

[Related: Get the best prices on new smartphones here]

Nook Simple Touch

Another dedicated e-reader from Barnes & Noble, the Nook Simple Touch has plenty of fans thanks to its bright six-inch E Ink display (now available for a £109 with GlowLight front-lit screen for night-time reading), 200-gram weight and rounded, ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold.

As no-nonsense as the Kindle, the Nook uses WiFi to download books to its 2GB hard drive (of which only half is available for content and of that 750MB is reserved for content from Barnes & Noble’s e-book store), but also features a microSD card port that can hold up to 32GB, which should give you plenty of reading for its claimed two-month battery life. The Nook Bookstore has more than three million books to choose from and you can also borrow ePub books from libraries for free.

Kindle Fire / Fire HD
From £129 / £159

A Kindle on steroids, the Fire and Fire HD feature seven-inch full colour (HD or not) displays that make them perfect for watching films and TV shows, surfing the web and checking out the latest music videos as well as reading books and magazines. This is handy, as the Fire is a tablet computer rather than simple e-reader, with 8GB memory (the Fire HD offers 16GB and 32GB), a 1.2GHz processor and WiFi so you can download apps, browse the web and access its email and social network delights.

The Fire comes with free unlimited Cloud storage for your Amazon content, a front-facing camera so you can Skype and functionality that stands it apart from its e-reader only siblings. The downside? Unsurprisingly its battery life – around 11 hours compared to the Kindle’s one month.

Google Nexus 7
From £159

Google’s seven-inch full colour screen, 16GB WiFi tablet lets you surf the web, watch films and TV shows, listen to music and of course, read books; content for all of which is available from the Google Play store. As a tablet, it also means you can download apps like Kindle and Kobo (much the same as with the iPad Mini) giving you access to more than four million books and more reading material than you could ever get through.

Fairly light at 340 grams, it also features Bluetooth connectivity, 1.2Mp front facing camera for Skyping and all the e-reader features you could want, all based around the flexible, customisable Android OS. Typically of tablets versus standalone e-readers though, its battery pales in comparison with around 10 hours e-reading on a single charge.

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