Kindle Touch Review

This Kindle Touch Review is based on information available about the new Kindle Touch eReader from Amazon. It won’t be released until November 15th – However, it’s worth going into features and comparing it against Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) and the $79 Kindle.

Kindle Touch Review – Main Features

Here’s what you get for $99 -

  1. eInk Pearl Screen. This is optimized for reading and is the latest eInk technology available. It’s readable in sunlight but doesn’t come with a backlight.
  2. 6″ screen with 600 by 800 resolution at 167 ppi.
  3. Touch Screen. Lets you do things easier and quicker. Also page turns are noiseless.
  4. Very simple to use. Touch adds even more simplicity to an already intuitive Kindle experience.
  5. WiFi. Also free WiFi access at AT&T hotspots.
  6. Solid Battery Life. If you read half an hour a day with wireless off you get 2 months battery life.
  7. Wireless Downloads of books in 60 seconds over WiFi.
  8. Kindle Store which has the best range of new books. It also has lots of free book offers and deals and the best book prices.
  9. Library Book Support.
  10. A compact and light eReader. It’s 6.8″ by 4.7″ by 0.40″. It’s also 7.5 ounces. It is supposed to be around 18% smaller than Kindle 3.
  11. Experimental Browser.
  12. 4 GB of memory of which 3 GB is available for you. Free Cloud Storage with unlimited capacity for Amazon content.
  13. Text to Speech. Only available when Publishers haven’t disabled it. Available on all your personal documents.
  14. Lending. One-time lending to one person. Only available when Publishers haven’t disabled it.
  15. Kindle Reading Apps, WhisperSync, and other Amazon Infrastructure based features. You can continue reading across devices. You can sync notes.
  16. PDF Support. Please Note: The 6″ screen is rather small for PDFs and there are still bugs with highlighting in PDFs etc. So this isn’t really a very good PDF reader.
  17. There’s a new feature called X-Ray which lets you explore the bones of a book. Somewhere, House is laughing at the ridiculous analogy.
  18. Faster page turns than Kindle 3.

Overall, you get a very impressive amount of value for money.

It is worth pointing out some disadvantages -

  1. To get the $99 price you have to get the Kindle Touch with Special Offers. That means ads instead of screensavers and an ad on your Kindle home page.
  2. There is no ePub support. That means you can’t really get ebooks from any of the other big ebook stores. It also means that if you decide to switch to another eReader you can’t take your Kindle books with you.
  3. Touch is convenient – However, the typing will not be as convenient as with a physical keyboard. The lack of physical page turn buttons is also an inconvenience.
  4. No 3G. The 3G version is $50 more expensive. It lets you download books via 3G and lets you do free Internet browsing in over 100 countries (only if your Home Country is the US).
  5. Perhaps some things I’ve missed.

To be quite honest, there aren’t that many disadvantages. The Ads are annoying but at $99 you can’t really complain.

Amazon has taken back its ‘Best eReader’ Crown. It’ll be interesting to see what B&N and Kobo do to counter.

Kindle Touch Review – Top 5 Kindle Touch Features

A quick summary of the 5 main benefits -

  1. An eInk Pearl eReader for just $99.
  2. Access to the Kindle Store.
  3. Text to Speech.
  4. Touch screen and generally very easy to use interface.
  5. Compact, Light and Portable.

Everyone expected Amazon to try for a $99 Kindle – No one expected it to deliver a $99 Kindle Touch.

Kindle Touch Review – How important is the Touch Kindle price of $99?

The Kindle Touch at $99 is really good value for money. The key figure here is $99. It’s a really important price since it means that we go below the mythical $100 price barrier and lots of people who were unwilling to pay $114 for a Kindle 3 with Special Offers will now supposedly be psychologically compelled to buy the Kindle Touch with Special Offers for $99.

My gut feeling is that it’s going to work and the $99 Kindle Touch will sell like crazy. The $79 Kindle and $99 Kindle make price and value for money their main selling points and with their sub-$100 prices they remove what was perhaps the last big barrier to wide eReader adoption.

Kindle Touch for $99 or Kindle Keyboard for $99?

Not even going to discuss the $79 Kindle because its lack of speakers and lack of keyboard/touch make it a horror in my opinion. Just pay $20 more and get Text to Speech and background music and easy typing of notes.

Kindle Touch advantages – touch-screen, more compact, lighter, 4th generation kindle, easier interface thanks to touch.

Kindle Keyboard advantages – keyboard, page turn buttons, known to be very good, available now.

If you prefer a keyboard and/or must have physical page turn buttons and/or can’t wait for a month and a half, then Kindle Keyboard is a better option. In most other cases the Kindle Touch is the better choice. They both are very similar in most other ways. I’ll update this Kindle Touch review when the Kindle Touch ships.

41 Responses

  1. It will be very interesting to see what they mean by faster page turns. Probably that means this device has the Nook page turn, which only goes full-black flicker every 5 or 6 pages.

    It will be interesting to see whether the Kindle 4 has this, and if it will be backported or updated on the Kindle 3. This is related heavily to whether the new devices use 4.x software or an updated version of 3.x.

    • Come to think of it — what are the odds of the $79 Kindle 4 running straight 3.2.1, just like Kindle 3, or a 3.x variant anyway? The interface is extremely similar on the user end — just missing a bunch of hard keys which need extra Menu options, plus an onscreen keyboard (extension of the SYM thing).

      However, Touch might well require something more Androidy. The Nook Touch runs Android underneath (closer to Nook Color than to Nook), and people have in fact gotten angry birds to run (-ish) on Nook Touch. A common or similar software base for Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch? Wouldn’t surprise me.

      • I’ve just noticed something in the Compare Kindle table on amazon — Check out the “On device storage” row. If you assume roughly a 1M/file average, which they seem to do, it says that Kindle 4 and Kindle 3 respectively use about 600 versus 500 megs for the OS, whereas the Kindle Touch uses about 1000 and the Kindle Fire 2000.

        600 v 500 may be rounding differences, but the Touch clearly uses a much more extensive OS than the other two, and the Tablet is bigger yet. I think we (well, NiLuJe at least) will find that the Kindle $79 does in fact run Kindle OS 3.x or something closely based on it, and the Kindle Touch something new entirely, which may or may not be closely related to Kindle Fire’s OS.

        That also means that we should probably call the new Kindle something more like 3.5, and that it’s the Touch which is Kindle 4 — we’ll see how that plays out in the overall blogosphere over the coming weeks/months.

        (Have you seen the efforts to run Kindle OS 3.x on G2 hardware? It seems to work quite well. Certainly more featureful than 2.5.)

    • Would be very cool if they had the same cool page turns.

  2. What happened to K3 (wifi)? Does it change the name?

  3. Sounds cool but I will stick with my K3. I don’t care about Touch and I’d rather have a keyboard. Still, as an author, this is a great day for finding more readers!

  4. My concerns with the touch screen interface:
    1 – Fingerprints/smudges on the screen
    2 – It doesn’t appear to have a next page button, requiring me to block the screen to turn the page, and leaving a smudge behind
    3 – The Sony Touch screen interface made the screen less readable, is it the same with the Kindle?

    My question is, what does the touch screen get me that the $79 non-touch version doesn’t? I know it has double the memory, but from an interface perspective, what can I do easier by touching the screen vs pushing a button?

    • 1 and 2 are very valid concernts. I share them too.

      3 – It uses infra-red and not a touch layer. Same as newer Sony and new Nook Touch. So no negative effect on readability.

      Touch Screen gives you – touch, more memory, speakers so you can get text to speech and music, probably better resale value. It is missing physical page turn buttons.

      There’s also Kindle 3 which gives you all that Touch does except touch screen and it’s isn’t 4th generation. But it does have physical keyboard and physical page turn buttons.

    • One thing switch forgot to mention — battery life on the $79 Kindle is half that of both of the $99 Kindles, presumably due to a half sized battery. The Kindle Touch presumably has a slightly bigger battery than the Kindle 3, because that IR illumination has to cost some power.

      I read alternately on my iPhone’s Kindle app, and my Kindle 3 (whisper sync for the freaking *win*), and occasionally on the iPad just to see what that’s like, and I don’t have too many problems using touch for page turns on the iOS devices. It *is* after all very similar to what you do when you’re reading an actual book — you have to touch the page to turn it. That being said, I’d really much prefer it if the Kindle Touch had page turn buttons as options, if nothing else.

      As far as smudges go — i tend to hold my K3 with my thumb touching the screen while moving it. The eInk seems to be a *lot* less smudge-taking than the glass (but, of course, harder to clean).

  5. i’ll stick with K3 and hope it works for a very long time. It meets my needs perfectly. Plus I would not want to do without the keyboard and page turn buttons.

  6. Hi,
    I want to buy Kindle Touch ($99), before i buy i want to know something about ebook files. I have a lot ebooks(pdf) in my laptop, can i transfer to Kindle. Because i heard that Kindle is allowed only ebooks for amazon ebooks store. it is correct or not? If like that it is not useless for me. my county is not easy to access internet. Pls advice me.

    • Yes, PDFs that are not password protected can be read on Kindle. You might want to edit them to increase the font size if the size is on the small side. Or you can view them on landscape.

      If you want text to speech or ability to add notes, then you would have to convert them to a Kindle compatible format using Calibre or some other software.

  7. There are now twelve different versions of Kindle for sale on Amazon.

    (1) Kindle Fire
    (2) Kindle DX

    Four versions of the Kindle Keyboard:
    (3) a WiFi-only version with “special offers” (i.e. ads) for $99
    (4) a WiFi-only version without ads for $139
    (5) a WiFi and 3G verison with ads for $139
    (6) a WiFi and 3G version without ads for $189

    Four versions of Kindle Touch:
    (7) a WiFi-only version with “special offers” (i.e. ads) for $99
    (8) a WiFi-only version without ads for $139
    (9) WiFi and 3G verison with ads for $149
    (10) a WiFi and 3G version without ads for $189

    Two versions of the plain Kindle (the one with neither touch nor a keyboard):
    (11) a version with ads for $79
    (12) a version withtout ads for $109

  8. What is the main difference between K3 and Kindle Keyboard? Thanks.

  9. @eorse,

    There is no difference between the K3 and the Kindle Keyboard. They just renamed it to be more discriptive and differentiate.

  10. My husband likes his Kindle 2 but really wants to be able to peruse his books like a book shelf — see the cover art and see a summary of each book. It’s cumbersome if even available on the Kindle 2.

    Will this be available on the Kindle Touch or Kindle Fire??

    • Kindle Fire – Yes.
      Kindle Touch – it seems not. We’ll have to see if Amazon does an update to the software for Kindle Touch by release date to support this.

  11. Just how invasive are the ‘special offers’? Where is it they show up and how often? Is this like a constantly moving banner or periodically changing images, like on page turns, that distract while reading, or just a plain old still ad of some sort? I presume they show up someplace on the reading screen while one is reading their book and are not easily ignored, hence the need to charge extra for a no ‘SO’ feature. I’ve yet to speak with anyone who has an ‘SO’ unit or find one in a store anywhere where I could see it for myself. I’m interested in either the older K3 keyboard ,or perhaps the new $99 touch when released. Thanx…

    • Not very. They show up in screensavers and in a strip at the bottom of the page in the Home Page (where books are listed). They don’t show up when reading.

    • If you want an idea of what the special offers look like, there’s a “game” where “players” can vote on which of two ads is more appealing. They have several pairs. Apparently, they update the ads to vote on from time to time. I downloaded it awhile ago, but decided that since I do not have K3WSO, it wasn’t something that I was interested in keeping.

      Amazon Ad Mash.

      The “game” is free, but you don’t even have to download it. Go to the images and mouse over the black and white ones. You’ll get an idea of what the ads look like.

  12. Another Q if I may please. I understand that the Kindle uses a BU system named ‘Cloud” or similar such that the contents of ones Kindle are automatically(?) backed up to Amazon servers. I’m not real sure I want an entity perusing through what I have stored on my unit, even if it also has some advantages for me should my Kindle become hosed, plus providing data for their sales team on what people read.

    Is this backup ‘cloud’ feature optional, automatic or mandatory?

    • You can turn WhisperSync off — you just don’t want to.

      As far as the book Kindles go, you have two kinds of books on there — ones bought from and downloaded from amazon, and ones you put on there yourself. The latter does not get backed up in the cloud, neither does your reading position. Notes and highlights and bookmarks might be, but I don’t think even that.

      Books you bought from Amazon — obviously Amazon knows what you bought. They also store that information permanently — that goes for paper books as much as Kindle books. Because they know which Kindle books you have bought, they can offer you the option on any of the Kindle devices or apps linked to your account to download any of those books. Any electronic download-only vendor has to allow you to download at least once (and thus has to know what you bought, and store it for billing purposes), and almost all will allow you to download it again and again whenever you want. Until next week, the pioneer iTunes Music Store (at least for music) was the exception, only giving you a download once (a concession forced by the labels back when).

      So — Amazon knows what’s on there that you bought from them. That is inherently non-optional. With whisper sync off, to the best of my knowledge Amazon doesn’t even know if you delete a book from your Kindle.

      What’s left is notes, highlights, bookmarks, and place-in-book. All of these get synced — through WhisperSync — to Amazon, so if you have multiple Kindles, or like me a Kindle, Kindle apps on phone and tablet, and the web app, all of the above will know those things. Especially place-in-book is super-convenient, allowing me to read stuff on my Kindle, and while I’m waiting for the next bus/train/whatever, where there is no room to pull out the Kindle, to continue reading the same book on my smartphone, and then going back to the Kindle — all without losing my place.

      • Thanx, my concern was non-Amazon purchased or self loaded free books or library downloads etc, and you addressed that issue. Much appreciated!

    • I’m not sure. It will probably be optional. They might make it the default for Amazon purchases – an Archive of everything you have bought. For your own stuff – it will either not be there or be optional. However, at this point – we don’t know.

  13. After a long and careful research of the Kindle, I’ve decided not to buy an e-reader at all. Why you may ask, well, for a variety of reasons I’ll pass on for others to consider. My basic desire was to DL and read e-books from the local library (Albuquerque). This is from personal experience partially and from the brochure they provide plus off of a training website for this purpose.

    - to DL a book one logs into the library site and finds/selects a book. Not a problem.
    - then one gets a link and has to open the Overdrive Media Console which is how the majority of libraries that manage e-book/audiobook loans. Still not a problem really.
    - now you open the Overdrive link to DL the book and are sent to Amazon’s website.
    - there you must login too, as per the trainer this is due to Amazon’s agreement using Overdrive with any lending library -BECAUSE- the book is in Kindle format(hence the Amazon website).
    - at some point thereafter or with a few more gyrations, one finally gets the book they wanted. What a PITA, too many places to go for one simple txn IMO.

    OK now for the library problem(s) – for me in Albuquerque.

    - our local library(s) only allow for a 10 day checkout/title of e/audiobooks. NO other option(s) available.
    - they also allow a max of 4 e/audio books checked out at a time. Overdrive monitors this for you.
    - if you DL the book and decide it sux, you can’t “return” it, you got it for 10 days – period! After 10 days it automatically expires on your unit and is unavailable to you thanx to DRM protection to keep you from pirating the book. Same goes for WMA audio books(MP3 are unprotected) and apparently epub books too, like the Nook and pretty much the rest of the e-book mfgrs use.
    - if you don’t finish it within the 10 days(maybe you had 2 chapters left to go) you can check it out again, PROVIDED someone else has not put a hold on it. If so, they get it and you’re SOL until it becomes available again.

    When I base this all against having a paperback copy, the $100 Kindle isn’t as as attractive as it was, and at a used bookstore $100 will buy a lot of books. IMO there are just too many hoops to jump thru to get a lousy book from the library for which I can check out a paper copy and renew 3 times before having to return it, unless there’s a hold on it.

    That’s my assessment of the matter but if it works for you, Kewl – YMMV. I hope this helps provide a bit of food for thought for those straddling the fence as I was.

  14. all this still does not tell me what I could use a Kindle Touch for. What good is an ereader that does not let me buy the books I want? Why would anyone want to purchase something that deliberately stopped them from reading their authors they want to read? I don’t get it. I’m taking mine back to the store tomorrow. I jsut don’t get it folks. it is a waste of time, waste of money, and just one more gadget that costs so much more than the initial price at the store. I gave technology a chance, and it lost the race, big time. ereaders are plain and simply a bad idea that was advertised well.

  15. hell I can’t even turn the dang thing off anymore. Forget it, I’ll just let the battery run down, it is a bad piece of equipment. Not user friendly at all and I’ve been on computers since 1985 the first Mac at the first Military Installation in the world. But this, this is BS.

  16. I have a brand new Kindle Touch. I cannot find any reference to ‘image ghosting’. I understand eInk Pearl is the latesttechnology. In your experience is ‘image ghosting’ an issue?

    • If you don’t notice it then no point finding out about it. It’s not going to make you happier to find out that some portion of people are bothered by eInk artifacts left behind or that pressing and holding the Home key and then pressing Menu on Kindle Touch will refresh the screen and take a screenshot.

  17. Love my kindle touch for it’s light weight & small size.
    Dissapointed to note that my 9 dragons calander & address book are
    not available.

  18. These comments are very helpful. Different people drop different bits of information that I had not seen on any of the review I have watched. I don’t know why I need a screen shot, but it is nice to know I can get one.

  19. I am very diappointed that the kindle touch does not have a light in it. How are you supposed to read in the dark. I won a Kindle fire and it is so much better that the touch but I still wish the touch was lighted so others in my family can use it

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