Can You Read a Kindle in Bright Sunlight?

By Rosalee Bugbee

Kindle apps bring the e-book reader's functionality to your tablet.
i David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Within minutes, you can download a "New York Times" bestseller or favorite childhood classic to your Kindle and be reading it on the beach. But whether or not you can easily see the content in bright sunlight depends on which Kindle you're using. With the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, it may be difficult. With any other Kindle, you're more likely to easily see the content. The difference lies in the screen technologies.

LCD Screen

The Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD both use screens similar to an LCD glossy computer monitor. This is the type of monitor on a computer that generates a glare when you open a window, similar to glass television screens. Because of the glossy reflective surface, there's more likely to be a strong reflection in outdoor bright sunlight. If you have no choice other than using the device in direct sunlight, find a shaded area and turn up the brightness to help with reading. To adjust the brightness on the Kindle Fire, click the brightness icon on the status bar. Alternatively, using an anti-glare screen protector may increase visibility.

E Ink Screen

For Kindles using the E Ink display, the screen is optimized for outside viewing; this will make the screen look like reading a physical book or newspaper. E Ink displays use black text on a solid gray background and, with the exception of the Kindle Paperweight, have no backlights of their own. Because there's no backlight, and screen is non-reflective, there's no possibility of glare. The Kindle E Ink devices include the first through fifth generations, the Kindle DX, and the Kindle Paperweight. This, of course, excludes the Kindle Fire.

Dim Light

All Kindle devices are readable in low light, shade or indoors. With the exception of the Kindle Paperweight devices, E Ink devices need an external light source such as a book light for reading. Think of E Ink devices as physical books, and bring what you need to read them properly.