Tablets and E-Ink devices have evolved over the years to become more than just perfect media consumption tools. Many tablets have grown to become viable alternatives to laptops or smartphones, with access to productivity tools like spreadsheets and word processors, or stylus compatibility for taking notes and serving as digital canvases for artists.
Whether you’re an avid reader, a Netflix devotee, a Candy Crush- er, or someone finally to embrace the paperless office, these are the best tablet, e-reader, and e-note devices.
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Apple iPad (10th Generation)
If you’re buying for yourself, by all means go for the iPad Pro or the iPad Air, which feature the same M1 and M2 processors used in Apple’s laptops and smartphones. But if you’re buying for someone else, the $449 10th generation iPad, which debuted just last month, is a solid choice. It has a lot of the same features as the pricier $599 5th generation iPad Air, including a 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display, a USB-C charging port, Touch ID biometric security, and support for the original Apple Pencil stylus, but moves the 12MP front-facing camera to the edge of the tablet so it’s easier to make FaceTime video calls in landscape mode. It’s also powered by the A14 Bionic chip that debuted in 2020, which should still provide enough power for almost any user, even those using the iPad as a productivity tool.
Apple iPad mini (6th Generation)
Despite being $50 pricier than the much larger 10th generation iPad, it’s impossible to find someone who won’t be completely enamored with the $499 6th generation iPad mini the instant they pick it up. It’s everything great about the larger iPads in a much smaller and lighter packing, with an 8.3-inch screen that’s still large enough to read full color comic books, graphic novels, and magazines. It actually features a slightly more powerful processor than the latest iPad—the A15 Bionic chip—and supports the new Apple Pencil 2, which can magnetically attach to the edge of the iPad mini and charge while connected.
Amazon Fire HD 10
As gateways into Amazon’s music, ebook, and video streaming services, the company’s tablets are priced as loss-leader devices, and the Fire HD 10 tablet, with its 10.1-inch 1080P display, can be had for just $110. That makes it an ideal device to gift. It is heavily tied into Amazon’s services, with a customized front-end, and while it doesn’t have access to the Google Play store, it still has access to popular third-party apps including Spotify, Disney+, Netflix, Zoom, Hulu, and even Microsoft Office. It’s best suited as a media consumption device, and given its price, it could be a great option for younger kids who aren’t the best at taking care of technology.
Buy: Amazon Fire HD 10
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
Apple and Amazon’s tablets are (out of the box, at least) walled garden devices that limit where users can get content and apps, and not everyone is a fan of that approach. If you’ve got an Android devotee on your shopping list, tablets running Google’s mobile OS are harder to find, but there are still some solid options available, like the $699 Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. It’s actually the smallest and cheapest option of three Samsung tablets announced earlier this year, with an 11-inch display and a biometric fingerprint sensor on the side of its housing. It’s compatible with Samsung’s S Pen stylus for note-taking or more artistic endeavors, and the included 256GB of storage can be expanded with a microSD memory card.
Amazon Kindle (2022 Model)
For the person who only cares about reading books with lots and lots of text, the basic Amazon Kindle, recently updated a few months ago, is an easy choice. The latest model offers USB-C charging, 16GB of onboard storage, and an improved E Ink screen with more resolution so text looks sharper and easier on the eyes, plus access to Amazon’s well-stocked ebook store. It’s $100 for the version featuring ads on the lockscreen, or $120 without.
Buy: Amazon Kindle
Although a few years old at this point, the Kobo Nia hits the $100 price point without any advertisements aside from the recommendations made in the Rakuten Kobo ebook store that’s just as well stocked as the competition. It’s a solid alternative for those who’d rather skip Amazon’s offerings, offering wider support for various ebook formats, but with a few compromises including a screen with less resolution and just 8GB of storage—although that’s easily enough for a library of 6,000+ ebooks.
Buy: Kobo Nia
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 5
Arriving late last year, the Kindle Paperwhite 5 came with some major improvements over previous models, including a larger 6.8-inch, 300 PPI E Ink screen, USB-C and wireless charging, and screen lighting with color temperature adjustments allowing for warmer tones at night that are claimed to make it easier to fall asleep. The biggest reason to splurge on the $140 Paperwhite 5 is that it’s completely waterproof, so it’s completely safe to use at the beach, by the pool, in the tub, or during a hurricane, even if it gets completely submerged. Buy: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 5
Kobo Clara 2E
Looking for an alternative to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 5? The $130 Kobo Clara 2E offers a slightly smaller six-inch, 300 PPI E Ink screen, but 16GB of storage by default, which is ideal for storing both ebooks and audiobooks. It’s also completely waterproof, so users don’t have to be as diligent about taking care of it, and unlike the Paperwhite 5, Kobo boasts the Clara 2E’s case is made from 85% recycled plastic, with 10% of it sourced from plastic that was ocean-bound.
Buy: Kobo Clara 2E
Onyx Boox Leaf 2
Got a power user on your shopping list, who wants the latest and greatest packed with as many features as possible? Onyx might not be as recognizable a brand as Amazon or Kobo, but the $200 Boox Leaf 2 is the most powerful e-reader on the market. It’s got a seven-inch, 300 PPI E Ink screen with color adjustable screen lighting, 32GB of onboard storage that’s expandable through memory cards, built-in turn page buttons, and it runs Android 11 with full access to the Google Play app store. That means that you can either load your ebook and PDF files directly onto the Boox Leaf 2, or download the Amazon Kindle or Kobo apps and shop for titles through their respective stores.
Buy: Onyx Boox Leaf 2
The reMarkable tablet was the first E Ink device designed to replace a notebook and pen with digital paper, and the $400 (plus the cost of a stylus) reMarkable 2 took everything great about the original and made it even better. Using Wacom’s tried-and-tested stylus technology means the pen never needs to be charged, and writing on the reMarkable 2’s screen is as fast and responsive as writing with a real pen on paper. It’s the standard to which all other e-note devices are compared, and still manages to impress with an incredibly thin design and a robust file syncing system that makes documents instantly available on PCs and smartphones.
Buy: reMarkable 2
Amazon Kindle Scribe
Amazon is relatively late to the e-note game, a term used to describe larger E Ink devices with support for a stylus for taking notes, but don’t count the company out. The recently announced Amazon Kindle Scribe, which starts at $340, boasts a 10.2-inch, 300 PPI E Ink screen and an asymmetrical design with a thicker bezel on one side making it easier to hold in one hand. It’s best feature might be a self-organized system of sticky notes that can be used to annotate ebooks and other documents, plus access to the expansive Amazon ebook store—one thing the reMarkable 2 does not.
Buy: Amazon Kindle Scribe
Want more of Gizmodo’s consumer electronics picks? Check our our guides to the best phones, best laptops, best cameras, best televisions, and best tablets and eReaders. And if you want to know about the next big thing, see our guide to everything we know about the iPhone 15.