The E Ink displays found on e-book readers look like actual paper, but concerns about eye strain have historically given them a significant paperlike limitation, as well. E-readers typically aren't illuminated, which means you need to find an outside light source if you want to read in the dark.
That changed with the introduction of the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight (*Est. $120) and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (*Est. $120 and up), which use top-lighting and front-lighting technology, respectively, to illuminate the e-reader's display without causing the eye strain associated with typical backlit screens like those found on tablet computers.
The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is exactly what it sounds like, a Nook Simple Touch with an illuminated screen. That alone is enough to earn the device high ratings and editorial awards. It's an excellent pick, and reviewers say you won't be disappointed.
Most experts give a slight nod to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, however. While its forebearer, the now-discontinued Kindle Touch, ran into some issues with its touchscreen controls and page refresh rate, reviewers say the Paperwhite's touchscreen chops are just as accomplished as the Nook Simple Touch's. It also features a much higher pixel-per-inch resolution than the Kindles, which increases text clarity.
What really sets the Kindle Paperwhite apart is a more robust feature set. While the Nook Simple Touch provides a top-notch e-book reading experience, the Amazon e-reader includes extras such as a basic web browser, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library with an Amazon Prime subscription, and free cloud storage for Amazon titles. Buyers can also opt for a version equipped with free 3G mobile data capabilities (*Est. $180 and up) if they want to be able to download books and surf the Internet from anywhere, not just when they're on Wi-Fi.
That being said, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight has some advantages that may make it more attractive to some users. It doesn't include ads on its lockscreen, while the similarly priced Kindle Paperwhite with Special Offers does; a non-Special Offers Kindle Paperwhite (*Est. $120 and up) costs a bit more. While the Kindle Paperwhite is comfortable to hold, reviewers say the Nook Simple Touch's design feels even more natural and unobtrusive. Finally, the Barnes & Noble e-reader includes a micro-SD card slot for expandable storage, a feature missing on the Kindle Paperwhite, although free cloud-based storage is available for all titles bought via Amazon.com.