Spending days outside reading can be fun, but if your preferred method of reading is an e-reader, glare can often make your tablet’s screen virtually unreadable. Luckily, for beach days or summer afternoons outdoors, the best tablets for reading in direct sunlight have anti-glare screens with easy-to-read e-ink text, so you can read what’s in front of you without any eye strain.
As you continue your search, you’ll likely encounter Amazon’s Kindle brand, which includes a number of e-readers outfitted with e-ink text, as well as a few extra features great for outdoor reading, like library compatibility and a waterproof design. While the Kindle Paperwhite is a standout tablet for reading that is truly the best investment for reading outside, there are other variations still worth your time, including the classic Kindle and a kid-friendly Kindle, both at a slightly more affordable price. There’s also a great Kindle alternative on this list, that has an integrated Overdrive app, well-suited for dedicated library readers.
While the tablet field is wide and includes a lot more than just e-readers, because many popular tablets like iPads and even the Kindle Fire are backlit, they tend to be a bit harder (or near impossible) to read in direct sunlight. For that reason, there aren’t any on this list.
Still aren’t sure which e-reader is best for sunlight? Here are a few excellent options to help you get started.
1. The Best Overall, All Things Considered
The newest version of the Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite is super lightweight, and comes with e-ink text, a weeks-long battery life, and an IPX8-rated waterproof design. In other words? The perfect tablet for reading outdoors. The 6-inch glare-free screen is easy to read, even in direct sunlight, and it can easily sync with library apps on your other devices like Libby or Overdrive so you can read library books. And, since the screen light can be adjusted, this e-reader transitions from bright outdoors to indoors to nighttime with ease. It also allows you to listen to audiobooks on the e-reader using Audible (subscription not included).
I have this Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s by far the cream of the crop when it comes to tablets for reading. And more than 80,000 Amazon reviewers who’ve given it a five-star rating seem to agree with me. Linked here is the 8-gigabyte option, but you can also invest in the 32-gigabyte Paperwhite if the extra storage space feels worth it to you. This comes in four colors, including black, plum, sage, and twilight blue.
Positive Amazon review: “The Kindle is small and lightweight. Very portable and easy to navigate. I can read outside in the bright sunlight without glare and annoyance. The Kindle is compatible with my Fire Kindle, so books I borrow from the library on my Fire Kindle are easily downloaded onto my Kindle Paperwhite.”
2. Also Great: Another Kindle That’s More Budget-Friendly
With a $60 price tag, this basic Kindle is a great choice for reading outdoors and has some (but not all) of the same features you’ll find in the Paperwhite above. For one, it has a 6-inch glare-free screen and an e-ink display that’s visible in direct sunlight. It also can sync with your library apps on other devices in order to send library books to your Kindle. (No Kindle model allows you to download library apps directly on the device.) You can easily adjust the brightness on the screen when you move from outside to inside as well. This Kindle doesn’t come in a larger 32-gigabyte option like the Paperwhite, so you’ll have a sizeable 8 gigabytes to work with. And, it boasts a similar battery life to the Paperwhite above, and is compatible with Audible so you can listen to audiobooks from the device.
The big sacrifice with this device is that it lacks a waterproof design. For those readers who plan on reading at the beach or poolside, this is definitely a drawback and makes you a bit more vulnerable to water damage, which isn’t covered by Kindle’s basic one-year warranty. (However, there’s a two-year accident protection plan that does cover water damage for just $15 more.)
Positive Amazon review: “This kindle is awesome. Lightweight. Able to read in direct sunlight. Long battery life. Love the compact size. It fits in my purse nicely.”
3. The Best Kindle Alternative & The Best For Library Readers
If you’d prefer something besides a Kindle, and don’t buy a lot of books through Amazon or Audible, this Kobo e-reader is a great alternative. It has a 6-inch, glare-free e-ink screen that’s easy to read in bright light, and is even outfitted with Comfort Light Pro technology, which gradually reduces the amount of blue light the e-reader gives off at night. This e-reader features 8 gigabytes of storage, and has built-in Overdrive integration that makes for the easiest experience for library readers (provided your library uses Overdrive).
It features a similar layout to the Kindle, but with the added capability of buying books from different platforms, including Kobo’s wide eBook store. This lacks the waterproof capabilities of the Paperwhite, and you won’t be able to listen to audiobooks on this device. That said, there are plenty of reasons to love this e-reader, and it’s great for reading in direct sunlight.
Positive Amazon review: “I have not had a particular situation where I could not read in any outside condition. Can easily browse library catalog anywhere I have internet access and can check on available books immediately from the Kobo without needing a computer or another device.Highly recommend this product.”
4. The Best For Young Readers
For younger readers, you can’t beat the Kindle Kids edition. It has all of the best features of the adult-friendly Kindle, including the 6-inch glare-free, e-ink screen that’s easy to see in the sun and a weeks-long battery life. And, while not waterproof, it even comes with a case that protects it from damage. This e-reader also comes with a year of Amazon Kids+, so your emerging reader can explore thousands of new books for free, and you’re covered by an upgraded two-year warranty when you purchase this device (though some reports say this covers water damage, others don’t — so best to avoid water with this e-reader). Unlike the Amazon Fire Kids tablet, this lacks the app features and video capabilities that might distract from reading, which may be a pro if you’re looking to limit certain types of screen time, or a con if you’d rather have an all-in-one entertainment device for your child. This option also has 8 gigabytes of storage, comes in four different colors, and also has built-in parental controls.
Positive Amazon review: “Love it! This is a reader's kindle. We want our children to read -- not play video games all day. From the moment we received this device as a gift, our kids had immediate access to 55 books that we had purchased through our Amazon account. Now they can carry around a whole library of books.”