Holiday tech gift guide: Five e-readers for your favourite digital bookworm

With only a few shopping days left before Christmas, you might find yourself scrambling to get that perfect gift under the tree in time. If you’ve got someone on your list who loves the look of e-ink for digital reading or just doesn’t want the bulk that often comes with tablets, there are a few good e-reader options you can check out for them.

It should be noted that this is a list of the e-readers readily available in Canada, so you can get them in time for Christmas. But if you’re willing to wait until Boxing Day to pick up your e-reader, or don’t mind getting it after the holidays, you can check out two other great e-reader options that are currently only available in the United States, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch. Make sure the content you want to purchase is accessible in Canada, however, before purchasing either of these units.

Kobo Mini, Touch or Glo
MSRP: $79.99, $99.99, $129.99

Left to right: Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo, Kobo TouchCanadians looking for an e-reader got a little more selection this year as the biggest Canadian e-reader company unveiled three new models of e-reader (and one new tablet, which you can read about in our tablet gift guide). They’re all designed to suit different e-reading needs, so you can choose the one that’s just right for your recipient’s specific needs. All the devices have Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreen E-Ink displays (the Touch and Glo both use high-contrast Pearl E-Ink displays), the signature Kobo soft, grippy backs in a variety of colours, support a range of file formats (including EPUB, something the Kindle can’t do), and allow you to customize the size and appearance of text for the most comfortable, customized reading experience.

If you’re looking for a very compact e-reader, the Kobo Mini is the way to go. The Mini has a 5-inch screen, a full inch smaller than most other e-readers on the market, but unlike some other mini e-readers out there, includes a full touchscreen, too. Weighing only 134 grams and having about the same thickness as a pen, you will sacrifice expandable storage and the Pearl E-Ink display for size, but if portability is your top priority, Mini is the way to go.

[ Related: Five tablets to please your favourite gadget nut ]

For those who want a standard-sized e-reader, Kobo still offers its Kobo Touch, the evolution of its very first e-reader. The latest Touch has been updated with a few key features, including speedier page turns, a slimmed-down design and a mini USB port that lets you expand the memory up to 32GB. There’s also a new ‘book browser’ mode that lets you quickly flip through your book – something I know I’ve missed whenever I’m e-reading instead of holding a physical book. For a standard e-reader under $100 that gives you access to a vast library of books to buy and borrow, the Touch is hard to beat.

The Kobo Glo is designed to compete with other backlit e-readers on the market, like the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight or the Amazon Paperwhite. Lucky for us, though, this one is readily available in Canada. The Glo has built-in front lighting, which Engadget complemented for not being overly obtrusive when you’re reading. You’ll see the same sort of user interface on the Glo as the Touch, with access to Reading Life, Kobo’s social reading feature. If your gift recipient will be spending a lot of time reading in dark places (think of the early morning commuter or that kid who can’t get enough of a good book late at night), the Glo with its built-in light is a necessity.

Sony Reader
MSRP: $139.00

Sony Reader PRS-T2While Kobo often gets all the attention in Canada as the most widely-available e-reader, Sony has had a presence in the Canadian e-reader market for quite some time now. The newest model, the PRS-T2 has plenty of features to compete with the big names of the e-reader world. It boasts an impressive two months of battery life on a single charge, based on factory specs (six weeks with Wi-Fi turned on), an extra month over the other e-readers on this list. The new Sony Reader also includes new Facebook and Evernote features, which let you share and save passages from books purchased through Sony’s Reader Store. In addition to books you purchase, you also have access to ebooks through public libraries, using the Reader’s dedicated ‘public library’ icon. While you can borrow books through the Kobo, too, Sony has gone out of their way to streamline the borrowing process. Be sure to check out the Sony Reader when you’re shopping for a good-looking reading device that your giftee will be happy to tote along with them.

Kindle
MSRP: $89.00 USD

KindleWhile we’re still yet to see the Kindle Paperwhite or the Kindle Fire HD come to Canada, it’s now significantly easier to purchase older styles of Kindle here. Available at Amazon.com (for shipping to Canada) or at Staples stores, you can now find the Kindle without significant headache. Available through Amazon’s international Kindle store, you can now have the world’s most popular e-reader shipped right to you. And if you happen to live near a Staples store, you have your choice between the Kindle or the Kindle with Keyboard (available Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 3G). With the Kindle, you have access to the massive selection of books in the Kindle store, including an assortment of Kindle exclusives, all of which can be purchased over Wi-Fi. And if you’re reading your books on the Kindle app for mobile devices and computers as well as your Kindle, the Whispersync technology makes sure that you know where you left off, no matter where you pick up your book. For an all-around e-reader with a huge selection, the Kindle is a great buy.

For more gadget gift ideas for the tech head in your life, visit our Holiday Tech Gift Guide and follow @yrightclick on Twitter.