Looking back at 2023, it was one of the worst years in the past decade for new dedicated reading devices. Very few new devices were released this year, and most new models that did come out were just basically re-releases of existing models with a few minor changes.
Amazon didn’t release a single new Kindle model in 2023—that’s only the second time that has happened in the history of Kindles. And now it looks like the Kindle Oasis is being phased out so we’re losing another model without gaining anything new so things are even worse than before.
It was a down year for Kobo as well. The only new model they released in 2023 was the Kobo Elipsa 2E, and it was almost exactly the same as the first gen model; the only notable difference was the addition of a warm frontlight.
Unfortunately 2022 wasn’t much better for Kobo either. The only new model they released last year was the Kobo Clara 2E. They gave it a few minor upgrades and reused the same design from the previous model from 4 years earlier. New ideas seem to be in short supply at Kobo.
Onyx released about a dozen “new” devices like they do every year, but most are just slightly tweaked versions of existing models, and at least two have already been discontinued (typical Onyx, flightier than a flock of pigeons). They just released the Note Air3 and it’s hardly any different than the original Note Air from 2020.
There was one new device from Onyx this year that wasn’t based off an existing model, the phone-shaped Boox Palma with a 6.13″ E Ink screen, and it has some potential as a highly-portable and pocketable ereader, but it costs nearly as much as the 10.2″ Kindle Scribe. I’m hoping they’ll release a less expensive Lite version in 2024.
One bright spot in 2023, we saw the release of a few color E Ink devices that use the newer Kaleido 3 screens from E Ink. There’s the PocketBook InkPad Color 3 and the Tab Ultra C from Onyx, along with the Note Air3 C. Color E Ink still doesn’t look as good as black and white E Ink when it comes to displaying regular text, but the resolution has improved and so has the color quality.
PocketBook released a bunch of new ereaders in 2023 so it wasn’t a down year across the board for all ereader companies. PocketBook mostly just re-released their existing products with new designs and a few token upgrades like USB-C ports, but at least they made some improvements and continued to evolve their brand.
Barnes and Noble released a new 7.8″ Nook GlowLight 4 Plus, but not very many people seem to care about Nooks anymore. If Amazon released the same exact thing as a Kindle it would be a huge success, but Amazon seems to care about as much for new Kindles as people care about Nooks these days.
Hopefully we’ll see more new ereaders getting released in 2024, and hopefully some of these ereader companies will actually release something new that isn’t just a rehash of existing products.