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Which is the best 6-inch e-reader?

  • by ereaders

A 6-inch e-reader is interesting for reading digital books in ePub, mobi, and other similar formats. Available between 50 and 200 euros, there are different types of e-readers in this segment. How to find the right one? What to choose? An article to try to find the best 6-inch e-reader for each use.

In 6 inches: good e-readers, not too expensive.

E-readers are available in different formats: the 6-inch format is quite popular, most manufacturers offer 6-inch e-readers, although some of them favor a larger format segment (more suitable for reading PDF documents, for example). Nevertheless, for reading digital books, the 6-inch format is quite sufficient. If most manufacturers use the same screen (eInk Carta), each one offers a different user experience, mainly because the different e-readers do not use the same software, and cannot open all formats or do not benefit from the same dictionaries. In any case, the interest of the 6-inch segment is that there are good e-readers, allowing to read comfortably and for many hours, at a reduced cost.

Differences: each brand has its own specificity.

The major differences between 6-inch e-readers can also be found in the larger formats offered by the manufacturers: they use the same software for their different e-readers, and apply the same policy; the strong and weak points are often linked to each brand.

Kindle: good value for money, but relatively closed.

Amazon is probably the leader in e-readers sales, with its online sales platform to attract customers to digital reading. They produce a large volume of e-readers, and these are often available at very competitive prices, during Black Friday but also during several periods of the year, where they are found at 20 euros less than their usual price. Nevertheless, even at their normal price, these e-readers are far from offering the worst quality/price ratio on the market, on the contrary!

Above all the Kindle Basic (or “normal”) and the Kindle Paperwhite are the 6-inch e-readers offered by the American giant. If you are interested in a more detailed comparison between these two e-readers, I invite you to read our article comparing the Kindle Basic and the Paperwhite. Either way, these e-readers have more in common than they have differences. You will find the same software, very reactive as well as quality dictionaries. The integration with the Amazon store is very efficient: it is easy to buy a book from Amazon and add it to your e-reader, so you can read it.

However, there are some limitations to take into account: the e-reader reads AZW3, MOBI, PDF, TXT formats but does not read EPUB format. Too bad for those who want to read books downloaded from sites other than Amazon, those were often in ePub format. Nevertheless it is possible to convert its ePub files to azw3 or mobi, for example with the free and open source software caliber. However, this adds a step before being able to read your books. The PDF support is nevertheless really good by default, and in that a Kindle e-reader is a good e-reader for those who want to read PDF documents at a lower cost (even if its screen is a bit small – in size – for some files).

Available between 55 and 79 euros, the “basic” Kindle e-reader offers a quality/price ratio not found in the competition. Amazon’s goal is indeed to sell books after cost, rather than just an e- reader, which allows them to offer a versatile and responsive machine with good dictionaries and a well thought-out and pleasant interface at the lowest cost. This is probably THE e-reading machine to consider for those looking for a small, inexpensive reading machine. Moreover, equipped with lighting, it can be used for reading at night. The Kindle Paperwhite comes with a higher resolution, which is something to consider for those who want to read comics or manga, or PDF documents. While these e-readers offer a very good value for money, they do not have adaptive lighting, allowing you to adjust the lighting tone to yellow/orange for more comfortable reading at night and less exposure to blue lights. For a few tens of euros more, it may be interesting, for those with a larger budget and wishing to read at night, to choose an e-reader that allows to adjust the heat of the lighting.

Kobo e-readers – versatile and qualitative.

The second best-selling brand in France is Kobo, e-readers sold at Fnac and on the Rakuten site. These e-readers are of very good quality and, compared to Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, they are much more opened. It is easier to install complementary software, such as the Koreader alternative e-reader. It is also possible to read many more formats natively, including the ePub format. These e-readers don’t lock you into the Amazon ecosystem and seem preferable for those looking to open books gleaned from right to left.

Their strong point at the moment is to allow the use of adaptive lighting, while the Kindle does not have adaptive lighting, and therefore to adjust the “heat” of the light according to the time of day. The Kobo Clara HD is the 6-inch model offered by Kobo. It is a quality e-reader that is pleasant to handle and has one of the most efficient and pleasant lighting systems on the market. The default dictionaries are not bad and the interface, although not as fast as Kindle, is quite fast, smooth and pleasant to use. You can easily change the font size to adapt the device to read in good conditions. For those who want a more open e-reader than a Kindle, a Kobo e-reader is probably the option to consider: easy to find in France, it has a good quality/price ratio and a large community of hackers for those who would like to modify their e-reader to adapt it to their needs. The Clara HD is a very good 6-inch e-reader, even though it is a bit more expensive (between 110 and 120 euros) than a Kindle Paperwhite.

Vivlio/PocketBook. Read any format

PocketBook e-readers are the third main alternative. Similar to the Kobo e-readers, they are very open and can open all types of files. It should be noted that it is even easier to install a complementary e-reader, and that by default the PocketBook e-readers read PDF very well.

It is the e-reader that looks for the maximum freedom, allowing you to comfortably open any type of file. Nevertheless, the interface is rougher than that of a Kobo or a Kindle, and the dictionaries included by default are of lower quality. Adaptive lighting is provided and is of high quality, and it is possible to program different types of lighting according to the time of day, in order to adapt the lighting to one’s tastes, automatically once configured. For those who are happy with the included dictionaries (or are ready to install their own!), a Vivlio/PocketBook e-reader is a good choice.

The 6-inch models currently sold are the Touch HD and the Touch Lux. The Touch HD would be my preference. Indeed, the Touch Lux having a lower resolution it does not seem to offer a good quality/price ratio: too expensive to be compared to a Kindle Basic, quite similar, it does not compare with what other brands offer for the same price, or with what PocketBook offers for a few euros more. As for the Touch HD, it is quite interesting, because it is a really open e-reader, allowing an actor of French books to work even when buying (the e-reader is available at Decitre) and to open books bought right to left, or downloaded for free, thanks to a good support of ePub as well as PDF.

The support at PocketBook is reactive. In the past, PocketBook has been offering its updates for many years: a PocketBook e-reader is a good purchase for those who are looking for an open, long-lasting e-reader.

Conclusion: the right e-reader for everyone!

One again, it is not possible to decide for you: there is no such thing as the perfect 6-inch e-reader for every purpose. For those who are not bothered by the advanced integration into the Amazon ecosystem or are ready to convert books to sideloaders, a Kindle (Basic or Paperwhite!) e-reader offers a quality/price ratio hard to beat, and allows small budgets to equip themselves with eInk at a price not found elsewhere. Very sold, these e-readers are also available at a good price on second hand, for example on eBay and are therefore the ideal device for small budgets.

For those who want to open more file formats, a PocketBook e-reader is ideal: at ease with all formats, even PDF – even if a 6-inch e-reader is a little bit just for PDF, an 8-inch or larger e-reader would be preferable – the e-reader should work for a long time, and its software allows for great customization, while remaining free of any attachment to a book dealer or format(s) in particular. It should be noted that it is possible to install the official PocketBook software on a Vivlio e-reader purchased in France, which allows you to benefit from the latest updates as soon as they come out.

A Kobo e-reader seems a good balance between functionality, display comfort (the default reading app is more pleasant in my opinion than the one provided by PocketBook) and openness: you can read most formats and install third party reading software if needed. That’s why my general recommendation would be for most uses a Kobo e-reader, such as the very good Kobo Clara HD; and a Kindle Basic (Amazon) for smaller budgets. Indeed, at this price (between 55 and 80 euros) the basic Amazon e-reader is unbeatable, and if it is not perfect (too closely integrated in the Amazon ecosystem for my taste) it is possible to easily get around its limitations and to read any type of file comfortably.

For those who have more budget and are looking to adopt a 6-inch e-reader as open as possible that they’ll be able to keep for years, a Kobo Clara HD or a PocketBook Touch HD are very good choices.

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