I think two things differentiate us “seniors” from other people. Our eyes are not what they used to be, and new technology is sometimes annoyingly hard to understand. After a lot of research, I found two electronic book readers that solve both these problems.
Which electronic book reader is best for seniors? I found two outstanding book readers for older eyes and shorter patience. Their fonts are big and they are simple to operate. The first book reader is good for people with blurry vision and glare issues. The second device is good for people who need large print. Both machines make reading easier for seniors. They also both have two different ways that the machines can read aloud to you.
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Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is the best book reader for low vision users. The Oasis has a “Low Vision” setting that enlarges the font weight, font size, and line spacing.
The Apple 12.9 inch iPad is the best tablet for extremely far-sighted readers, because it allows you to enlarge the font well beyond what a smaller device can do. The iPad is also an outstanding computer tablet. You can use it to browse the internet, stream music, read email, and take videos.
The Best Low Vision Book Reader
The Oasis electronic book reader is best for people with blurry vision. It is also a first-class choice for reading outdoors. The Oasis is both glare-free and waterproof. Accessibility features allow the reader to change the font, page margin, boldness level, and line spacing. Alternatively, you can use the Oasis “Low Vision” setting, which has a clear font and extra spacing.
The Oasis is the smaller of the two book readers described in this article. The other device is much larger. If you need a lightweight device, then get the Oasis over the iPad.
Hardware and Software You Need to Read on the Oasis
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The Oasis uses your home wireless network to download books.
The Oasis hardware includes:
- The 7 in. Kindle Oasis device
- A leather cover
- A power adapter to re-charge the device battery
The Oasis software includes:
- The Kindle app to buy and read electronic books
- The Audible.com app to buy and listen to audio books
- The VoiceView app that uses artificial intelligence to read books to you
Why You Should Get the Kindle Oasis
The Kindle Oasis is not a computer tablet. It’s a book reader. It has one job, and it does that job extremely well.
The Oasis has multiple accessibility features for low vision readers. It shines the light at the text, not the reader’s eyes. The screen is crisp. You can read it outdoors without glare. You can accidentally drop it in the pool. It fits beautifully in the hands. It weighs less than a paperback book.
***** a godsend for me
” I am disabled with ms and legal blindness that goes with it. with the oasis I can read where otherwise I can’t. the adjustable font and 7 inch size give me back a pastime that I had thought was gone forever. thank you.”
Why You Shouldn’t Get the Oasis
In order to listen to books, you need to pair your Oasis with Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Also, the Oasis is not a computer. It’s a book reader. If you want an email, internet and streaming video device with built-in speakers, get the iPad (described below).
Learn About the Oasis
When you turn on the Oasis power, the screen guides you through the wireless and preferences setup. Here is a video that shows you what this will look like when you do it. I think it is simple, but if I am wrong, you can always get help on Amazon.com, or from a grandkid.
The device is expecting to find a wireless network broadcast. If this is not something you have, you can get the cellular version of the Oasis. It will let you download all but the largest books over AT&T’s network without charge to you.
This is the wi-fi version for anyone expecting to set it up on his or her home network.
If you do not have a wi-fi network, then get this the cellular Oasis version.
How to Shop for Electronic Books on the Kindle Oasis
The Oasis comes with both the Kindle and Audible apps on the home screen. Shop for electronic books in the Kindle store. Shop for audio books in the Audible store.
To buy electronic books, click the Kindle app, and then click Shop. Read book samples for free to decide if you want a book.
After you buy electronic books, the Oasis will instantly download them to your device. You will see them in your Kindle library.
How to Shop for Free and Discounted Electronic Books on the Oasis
You can get free and discounted books using your Amazon Prime membership. Prime includes many Amazon services besides free and discounted books.
You will get significantly more free books using a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Kindle Unlimited is an electronic book discount service.
Amazon Prime is a yearly membership service that gets you free video, music and books under the Prime umbrella. The Prime Reading service included includes tons of free and discounted books. It includes about 1,000 free and discounted books, magazines and newspapers. Prime Reading books ship free. Prime members get an e-book free each month. You can borrow one book per month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Prime members get free Audible channels that includes curate comedy, fiction, talk shows, narrated articles, music, video, and audible books.
Kindle Unlimited is a monthly service that allows members to download up to 10 free books at a time. To get an 11th book, you return one in your library. I use Kindle Unlimited to binge read topics I want to master. Many books I would buy a la carte are free under Unlimited. I download 10 books about a topic, then scroll through all of them on my Oasis. You can search for books as you normally would, but then filter by Kindle Unlimited to see all the books in your search that are free to you as a Kindle Unlimited member.
How to Get and Play Audio Books on the Oasis
The Oasis does not have speakers. To listen to books, you will need Bluetooth headphones or speakers. I will show you how to set this up below.
If getting speakers or headphones seems like too much of a bother, then get the iPad tablet described below. It is an excellent book reader with speakers for audio books and text-to-speech listening.
To shop for audio books, click the Audible icon on the Oasis home screen. While shopping here, you can listen to audio book samples free.
Audible.com books are professionally narrated. Buy, download, and then “play” as you would a video.
If you want to get both audible and e-book versions, Amazon usually sells the companion media at a discount. If you download an e-book, you can usually buy the Audible version at a discount. If you download an Audible book, you can usually buy the e-book at a discount. Companion books are often as low as $0.99.
Audible and Kindle synchronize with one another. This means you can read an electronic book to a certain page, and then have Audible pick up where you left off. Whispersync keeps your place in each version, so you can seamlessly switch between reading and audible versions.
How to Get the Oasis to Read Your Books to You
The Oasis comes with a text-to-speech app that reads your books aloud. First, you need to get a Bluetooth headset or speaker to listen to your books.
For headphones, choose between in-ear and over-ear designs.
With in-ear headphones, the rubber buds literally go into the ear opening. The setup really helps you hear.
However, if you have sensitive ears like mine, you will get over-ear headphones, or speakers.
One of the best in-ear Bluetooth headphones is a deceptively cost-effective Bluetooth earbud set from JBL.
I like over-ear headphones because they are the most comfortable, and their design closes out the world. I own many over-ear Bluetooth headphones. I use them to listen to music, books, and videos. I use them at home, when going to sleep, and at the gym.
I could write a book about the good and bad of many models. However, for audio book use, let’s just talk about one set that I really like.
One of my favorite on-ear Bluetooth headphones is the Mpow’s 059 headset. These headphones are adjustable and lightweight. The sound is very clear and crisp. I find it easy to hear everything on an audio book when using the MPow’s.
If you would rather go for a Bluetooth speaker, then I would suggest you get the JBL Charge 4 portable speaker. The problem with many Bluetooth speakers is that they do not carry any volume past a few feet. The JBL is a powerful, 30w speaker, so it is hearable without breaking up. It is a good speaker for listening to audio books when you are more than a few feet away from the speaker, or your senior hearing is a little less than perfect. As a bonus, when you get the Kindle Oasis and JBL portable Bluetooth speaker, you now have a waterproof bundle that will be safe to use by the pool.
The Best Large Print Book Reader
The best book reader to magnify book print is the 12.9-inch iPad. Because this screen is huge for a hand-held device, you can enlarge the book print to many times its default size. The iPad gives you a beautiful display.
Hardware and Software You’ll Get
- iPad Tablet with wireless or cellular internet connection
- Safari Web Browser
- Apple ID
- The Apple Books app (formerly known as the iBooks app)
- The iTunes app
Why You Should Get the iPad Tablet as Your e-Reader
Small tablets are not good at displaying large print. Enlarging the print on a small device makes things harder to read, not easier. Get a large iPad for a better reading experience. The bigger the screen, the better large print will look.
Largest iPad: Get the 12.9 inch iPad tablet here
Largest Refurbished iPad: For about half the price, get the refurbished 12.9-inch iPad here.
Why You Should Not Get the iPad Tablet as an e-Reader
The 12.9 inch iPad is a huge tablet, so it’s capable of displaying beautifully enlarged print. Because of this, it gets heavy in the hands. If holding the tablet is going to get tiresome, consider getting the Kindle Oasis, described above.
The iPad is a computer, not just an e-Reader. You can use it to read mail, watch movies, browse the web, and a million other things. The iPad price reflects the value of the entire computer you’re receiving.
Learn About the iPad
For those who need information about their new iPad, we recommend My iPad for Seniors (5th Ed.) by Michael Miller. Learn how to set up the wi-fi, make the screen easier to read, and browse the internet using Safari.
Get an Apple ID
The Apple ID allows you to access all of your Apple services. Power on the iPad. Open the Safari web browser. Go to the “Create Your Apple ID” page. Enter the information requested. Remember your login and password. You will use this in the iBooks and iTunes apps.
Get the Apple Books (iBooks) App
Swipe down from the middle of the home screen to reveal the search function. Search for “Books” (without the quotation marks). If your iPad already has Apple Books then, go to the next step. Otherwise, open the iTunes app. Search for Books. Click the Apple Books icon to install it.
How to Shop for Books on the iPad
Open Apple Books. Tap the Store icon. Choose from free and paid books. Filter by categories, subjects, and bestsellers. Sort by price, title or author.
When you choose books to purchase, Apple Books will ask you for your Apple ID. Enter the login and password you created above.
How to Get Audio Books on the iPad
Audio books are professionally recorded book narrations. A narrator reads the book at a recording studio. When you download the book, you get this narration. Search the Audio books section in the Apple Books app.
How to Get the iPad to Read Your Books to You
Text-to-speech apps read books using computer voices. They generate the audio on the fly.
You can use the built-in text-to-speech app, or you can get a book-centric app for your library. The built-in app is under the iPad’s Settings, then General, then Accessibility menus. There are some good instructions on enabling and using it here.
The Text to Speech! app is a popular software that translates books to spoken speech.
Download Free Books
View the free books to see your choices. Apple offers free electronic versions of many public domain books. The free books include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Art of War, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
The Oasis is a beautiful e-reader for people with blurry vision. It connects to the Amazon book eco-system. It automatically downloads your books. It can read your books to you. It’s a smaller device than the iPad. You need a Bluetooth headset or speaker to listen to the Oasis.
The iPad is a beautiful computer tablet with all the functions you expect in a computer. Its price reflects the massive amount of functionality included. The iPad comes with the Books app that allows you to buy electronic and audible books. The iPad tablet is large, so it can get hard to hold.
People Also Ask
How can I get a cheaper iPad for reading with a really large font? Refurbished iPad’s are just a tad older than the latest models, but it’s hard to tell the difference to look at them. A Refurbished iPad will have the same functionality as a new iPad at a much lower price. Return within 90 days if not satisfied. Take a look a refurbished, warrantied 12.9-inch iPads here.
Can I get a large Kindle device that’s also a computer, like the iPad? You can get all the book reading features of the Kindle Oasis on a Kindle Fire device. The Fire integrates books, movies, games, email and the internet into a seamless experience. The Kindle 10 is a gorgeous device that comes with built-in speakers, so you won’t need Bluetooth to listen to audio books. Take a look at the Kindle 10 here.
Learn More About Vision Assistance Devices