Which Kindle is Best for You?

Please read the Which Kindle? Kindle Buying Guide post instead (written on October 1st, 2011). It covers all the new Kindles and Kindle Fire.

This post is for people trying to decide between the various Kindle options available. First, let’s look at which kindles are available for you to choose from -

  1. Kindle for iPhone (free if you already have an iPhone). Best for casual readers i.e. 1 book a month.
  2. Refurbished Kindle 1 for $149. Great for people who want an entry level, no frills ereader.
  3. Refurbished Kindle 2 for $169. Great for people who want the Kindle 2 at a lower price point. The best value for money in my opinion.
  4. Refurbished Kindle 2 US version for $139. Great for people who don’t travel outside the US or don’t care about free Whispernet and free Internet outside the US.
  5. Kindle 2 for $189. The best Kindle in my opinion and incredible value for money.
  6. Refurbished Kindle DX US version for $349. Get the 9.7″ screen, PDF capable Kindle at a lower price.
  7. Refurbished Kindle DX International version for $399.
  8. Kindle DX for $489. The high-end textbook and newspaper targeted Kindle. Great if you want to read textbooks and/or newspapers.

Let’s go over the main strengths and weaknesses of each Kindle -

Pros and Cons of Kindle for iPhone

There are some obvious advantages -

  1. You get it for free on the iPhone.
  2. It has backlighting.
  3. You get all the kindle store books.
  4. You get a color screen which Kindles do not have because the screen technology i.e. eInk is not mature yet.
  5. You get some options Kindles do not have i.e. being able to change the text color.

And some obvious disadvantages -

  1. The screen size is small.
  2. The LCD is not suitable for reading for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time.
  3. Some of the reading apps for the iPhone have more options such as Auto Scrolling.
  4. There are lots of distractions i.e. app store games and utilities and other apps.

Kindle for iPhone Reading Score: 7 out of 10 stars.
Best Suited For: People who read 1 book a month or less. People who will mostly be reading in between doing other things and in snippets of free time.

Best Feature of the Kindle for iPhone: Free if you already own an iPhone.

This is a good first option to try out if you already have an iPhone. You can find it at the iTunes App Store.

Refurbished Kindle 1 for $149 – Pros and Cons

Update: As of June 21st, 2010 this is $329 and a definite No. Almost seems to be a price mistake.

The $149 refurbished kindle 1 is currently the lowest priced eReader you can get and here are the advantages -

  1. All the Kindle benefits i.e. Free Whispernet and Free Internet Access. The browser is very basic though.
  2. The Kindle Store.
  3. Extendable memory via an SD card slot.
  4. Replaceable battery.

And some of the disadvantages -

  1. It is refurbished.
  2. Only 4 shades of grayscale.
  3. No Read To Me feature.
  4. It’s not super thin with a shiny metallic back like the Kindle 2.
  5. Page Turns are not as fast.

Score: 7 stars out of 10. It is the original Kindle 1 from 2007, after all.
Best Suited For: People looking for an entry level eReader.

Best Feature of the Refurbished Kindle 1: Incredible Value for Money.

If you want a more in-depth comparison of the Kindle 1 with the Kindle 2 check out my Kindle 1 Vs Kindle 2 video review.

Refurbished Kindle 2 US for $169 – Pros and Cons

Another absolute steal in terms of value for money, the Refurbished Kindle 2 has significant strengths -

  1. All the Kindle features.
  2. Whisper Sync so you can sync it with the iPhone and other devices when they are supported.
  3. Faster page turns and more memory.
  4. Its sleeker than the Kindle 1 and looks more like a 21st century gadget/device.
  5. Much better screen resolution.
  6. The Read To Me feature is great. Its switched off on some books though.

The refurbished kindle 2 also has some disadvantages -

  1. It is refurbished.
  2. Its 6″ screen might not be big enough for you.
  3. There is no memory card slot so you can’t increase capacity.

Score: 8.5 out of 10 stars.
Best Suited For: Regular and Hard Core readers. If you read more than a book a month you’ll love the kindle 2. Also great if you read a lot in general.

Best Feature of the Refurbished Kindle 2: The Screen – much, much better than LCD screens and one of the most readable screens available.

You can check out my detailed kindle 2 review for more on the Kindle 2 including videos.

New Kindle 2 for $189

For $20 more you can get a brand new Kindle 2.

This is a very personal choice – some people will value ‘NEW’ more and some will value the $20 more. My strong recommendation is to get the new Kindle 2.

Perhaps this is a topic for a separate post. The short way to think of it is -

  1. If you can afford it go for the new Kindle 2.
  2. If the $20 price gap seems a lot to you, go for the refurbished kindle 2. You can be pretty confident about the purchase as it comes with a Warranty and it’s been refurbished by Amazon.

The new Kindle 2 is, in my opinion, the best eReader you can buy. You can also get a refurbished version for $169.

Score: 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Best Suited For: People who love to read books and read more than 1-2 books a month.

Best Feature of the Kindle 2: The Screen. Also, its pretty good value for money given the Read To Me feature, the Free Internet Access and the in-built Kindle Store.

Interlude: Kindle 2 Vs Kindle DX

Ever since the Kindle DX was first announced it has seemed to me that the Kindle 2 is a clear winner (unless you really want a larger screen or pdf support or larger font sizes).

The conclusion of my Kindle 2 Vs Kindle DX review was -

  • Kindle 2 for price and portability and especially if you mostly read books.
  • Kindle DX for pdf support and if you need a larger screen or read mostly in large fonts and the kindle 2 font sizes aren’t good enough

Does having the refurbished Kindle DX versions for $349 and $399 change that?

Not Really.

Refurbished Kindle 2 beats Refurbished Kindle DX in most cases. In fact, the $189 Kindle 2 is better value for money in most cases.

If you read newspapers regularly or need a Kindle for textbooks, those are the cases in which the Kindle DX is very compelling.

Refurbished Kindle DX for $399.

At $399 the refurbished Kindle DX has a much more palatable price than a new DX. The benefits of the Kindle DX (new or refurbished) -

  1. All the Kindle staples i.e. Read To Me, WhisperNet, huge range of books.
  2. Portrait and Landscape Mode.
  3. In-built PDF support. Note that this is limited to reading PDFs, using landscape mode, and adding bookmarks. You can NOT add annotations or zoom.
  4. A large 9.7 inch screen which makes it much better suited to newspapers and textbooks.

The larger size and spotty PDF support means the refurbished Kindle DX is far from perfect -

  1. It is refurbished.
  2. PDF support is limited.
  3. The size means its not very portable.
  4. The heavier weight means reading for a while starts hurting your hand. Be particularly careful if you have hand or health problems.

Score: 7.75 stars out of 10.
Best Suited For: Students looking to read textbooks. People looking to read newspapers. People looking for larger font sizes.

Best Feature: The large 9.7 inch screen. If PDF support had been more extensive that might have taken the prize.

Which brings us to the most expensive Kindle you can buy, the Kindle DX.

Kindle DX – Is it the right Kindle for You?

The Kindle DX is $90 more for the new version i.e. $489.

  1. The higher price is a function of the state of eInk technology and prices ought to come down in 6-12 months.
  2. The new Kindle DX is great for businesses and people who read newspapers regularly.
  3. The ongoing trials with university students have been seeing mixed results with students being stumped by the lack of easy note-taking.

Do read my Kindle DX Review and keep in mind the limitations of the DX before buying it. You can also get a refurbished version of the Kindle DX International for $415.

Score: 7.5 stars out of 10. The refurbished Kindle DX gets a better score because its better value for money.
Best Suited For: Newspaper and Textbook readers who want a new, large screen ereader.

Best Feature of the new Kindle DX: The large screen and the fact that its new.

Final Recommendations – Which Kindle is Best for You

Here are my recommendations on which kindle to buy -

  1. Very Casual Reader (less than a book a month) – Kindle for iPhone if you have an iPhone or perhaps refurbished Kindle 2.
  2. Tight Budget – Refurbished Kindle 2, if possible. If $169 is much more doable than $189 for some strange reason, then go for the Refurbished Kindle 2.
  3. Regular or Hardcore Reader (and read mostly books) – Kindle 2. This is absolutely incredible value for money.
  4. Will be reading newspapers and textbooks – refurbished Kindle DX.
  5. Want a textbook and newspaper reader and have the budget – Kindle DX.

Kindles in general are good ereaders as they offer a lot more than just the eInk screen (which is particularly suited for reading). There is always a strong after market for Kindles which shows that the features and included services are pretty compelling.

Leave a comment if you have a question on a specific scenario. Best of luck with your Kindle decision.

7 Responses

  1. I think the Kindle 1 is not only the best *Kindle* value for the money, but the best e-book reader value for the money.

    I recently purchased a refurbed K1 and I absolutely love it. If this is entry level (and I understand why you say that), then entry level is not too shabby. I don’t do a lot of web surfing on mine, just checking my calendar, weather, etc., but it is great.

    I had always figured Whispernet couldn’t be such a big deal, but truly, it is great, as are free samples of books. Besides which, I have had no trouble converting my pdf ebooks to read on my K1. Best value, best purchase I’ve made in a while.

  2. Andrea – great to hear you’re liking your Kindle 1 so much.
    It really is great value for money and a very good choice. meant entry level in a good way.

  3. Why do you offer as factual assertions your mere opinions that the iPhone Kindle app is ‘not suitable for reading for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time, and that it’s for ‘People who read 1 book a month or less?

    I read Kindle books on my iPhone for hours at a time, and I’ve read 70 or more books on it since the Kindle iPhone app debuted in January. My hardware Kindle gathers dust, because I consider the iPhone Kindle app to be greatly superior to dragging around the hardware Kindle, and I consider the iPhone screen to be eminitenly readable.

    Also, how does the fact that autoscrolling is available for other iPhone ebook reader apps translate into a negative for the iPhone Kindle app? You can say that it would be nice if the iPhone Kindle app had autoscrolling (I wouldn’t; autoscrolling is an annoying distraction, IMHO), but it doesn’t translate into a negative for the iPhone Kindle app vs. the hardware Kindle readers, which is the subject of your article.

    It sounds to me as if you haven’t seriously tried to use the iPhone Kindle app, and that you also seem to conflate your personal opinions with objective facts. In future, it might be wise to avoid such unjustifiable generalizations, or at least make it clear that you’re speaking only for yourself, and not for all Kindle users everywhere.

    • I just had to comment on reading on the iPhone Kindle app vs reading on an actual Kindle. I am a voracious reader and adore my K1. I’ve got several of the iPhone Apps for ebooks — the Kindle app, the B&N Ereader, etc.

      IMHO the iPhone apps, while beautiful, are not nearly as easy on the eyes as the Kindle. This will probably be an Apple/PC or Coke/Pepsi type of debate.

      I found it entertaining that you describe “dragging” your Kindle around, as if it were a ball and chain! It’s lighter than most hardcover books, which I’ve happily lugged around for most of my reading life.

      I’ve given my iPhone apps a good work out, as I do love the iPhone and until I retire for the evening, I am never without it. I think a lot of us who are heavy readers find that reading for any amount of time on the iPhone is nowhere near as much pleasure as reading on the Kindle.

      I quite enjoy this blog and consider it to be factual information colored by the informed opinion of the writer. I’ve sent the link to the “Which Kindle…” article to numerous friends and family who are considering Kindles and aren’t sure of the differences between them. Thanks for such an informative article!

      Happy reading to all!
      Jill

  4. Roland, thanks for leaving your opinion.

  5. Yes, the DX is marvellous for anyone who reads for pleasure.

    I work on a (big) laptop all day everyday. So I am not going to read for pleasure after work on a computer screen, especially a 7-inch screen.

    The Kindle DX is not at all like a computer screen, more like a book, because it reflects light like a book.

    So when I arrive at the office and turn on my computer for an 8-hour session, my eyes are fresh for the day’s work.

  6. […] In 2009 we’d written a post on choosing a Kindle – Which Kindle is Best for You? […]

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