Which Kindle e-reader should you choose?

First – a story…..

I’ve been thinking a lot (which can be really dangerous) about e-Readers since the Amazon press conference announcements happened yesterday. 

I purchased my first Kindle e-reader (my beloved White Kindle 2) about 3 years ago.  It changed my life.  Seriously.  All joking aside. I thought the price was ridiculously expensive at the time but have been hooked on reading as long as I can remember and the thought of carrying only one book on a trip made me somehow justify the expense. 

Just holding that device in my hands, I knew it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or, since I love to run, the greatest thing since wicking fabric was made for the masses.  It was true love. I could make the fonts larger, smaller, listen to books with the atrocious monotone voices (which has made my life so much easier during two painful eye surgeries and recoveries). 

Those were the good old days.  New books were $9.99 each the day they came out to market.  I could justify buying almost any of my favorite novels because it was so much cheaper than a physical hardback book.  I started getting rid of books because I wanted them only on my Kindle.  Amazon was the main bookstore at that point in time, so my original purchase was easy to do.  I didn’t even look at other e-readers, didn’t consider the Kindle 1 and couldn’t afford Kindle DX.

I was thrilled when the Kindle store came out with its first few apps.  I am not a big game player, but love words and anything to do with word games, so those first apps were word related and I was hooked.  Now I had apps to kill time with when I wasn’t busy reading books (ah – I remember those days when I could read as many books as I wanted to).

Readers are probably thinking….”Get to the point!  How could a Kindle 2 change your life?”

I had been following the blog at ireaderreview.com for a few months.  I happened  to read a blog post by some guy called Switch11 who was looking for beta testers for some Kindle apps his team was creating. I happened to love Kindle apps, had done a lot of testing in my career, and thought I would volunteer to get some free apps.  Too late! He had already filled all the slots.  But, since I had some decent credentials, he thought he would try to get an extra slot and give me a try. Within a day or two, I had several beta apps to test.  Jumped in a little gung-ho and sent off all sorts of issues.  Asked Switch11 if I was doing any good and he replied that I had found a pretty decent amount of issues. Jokingly – I said that maybe I should ask for a raise.  Seriously – he asked me to be head of Quality.

One e-mail – in which I crawled out of my shell to volunteer for a project led to a whole new exciting career that I have been following for going on 2 years.  See – an e-reader can change your life.


Now that you know the decision of which e-reader to purchase has monumental implications, let me give you some insights into which of the current slate of Kindle e-readers you might want to consider:

Kindle Keyboard 3G – For $139 with special offers (ads) or $159 without special offers (ad free) (please note: this often goes on sale around the holidays) – if you have the money and need to use apps or take notes and such and will be typing a lot – please choose this device.  I have had 4 Kindle e-readers and this is BY FAR the best e-reader Amazon ever made.  The keyboard is awesome (once you forgive them for removing the row of numbers), the 5 way controller is great, and the page forward and page back keys are wonderful.  The device is a good size and comfortable to hold. I think 100% of the Kindle apps also work on this device. 

By the way – if you wonder if it is a pain to have the Special Offers….I pretty well ignore them.  I actually find them a pleasant change from the boring, stock screensavers that Amazon forces on Kindle owners.  Some of the special offers are pretty good.  Save the $20 to buy apps or books.

Kindle – (Known by some as Kindle for Kids, Mindle, Cardboard Kindle) – Price just dropped to $69 (with special offers).  This price is a steal.  I think this is 1/3 of what I paid for my first Kindle.  It still has the 5 way controller.  It has physical page forward and page back buttons.  About 85% of Kindle apps work on this device.  Yes, there is an on-screen keyboard.  This will slow you down some if you need to type a lot.  However, if you are rough on Kindles, needing an inexpensive (but excellent) Kindle, or starting a young book lover on their e-reader journey, this is the device for you. 

Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Paperwhite 3G  – $119 and $179 respectively (with special offers).  The newest additions to the Kindle family are replacing the Kindle Touch of late 2011 (or is that the Late Kindle Touch of Late 2011?). Note: I was not impressed with the Kindle Touch, but found it liveable.  My biggest disappointments – no physical page turn buttons and no requirements to make apps available for the device.  I live alone, so reading all night with a light on is not a big concern, but I am excited at the idea of the backlight in the app.  Sharper fonts and cleaner screens – all sound like positives to me.  More pixels, better contrast….better and better.  If I happen to get one passing through my mailbox, it might not ever reach its intended destination.  Add $20-$40 to the cost of the older Kindles in order to add in an attachable light and this price looks great.  I would particularly recommend this for someone who likes to read in bed at night (and actually has to share their room with someone else), travelers who read a lot on airplanes (why do they always turn down the lights?), reading to children in the dark and on car rides, etc.  If you have a smart phone, you won’t need to use the keyboard as much and that might help make a decision.

When to go for 3G?  If you do not have WiFi in your home and don’t live in the Hundred Acre Woods, then I recommend getting 3G.  This will make it easier to download purchases without travelling to the nearest Starbucks all the time.

My one concern on the Kindle Paperwhite? No word yet from the folks at Amazon if any of the Kindle apps for Kindle Touch will work on this device.  If apps are important to you, I’d hold off until a little more information has been released so that you can make an educated decision.

7 thoughts on “Which Kindle e-reader should you choose?”

  1. I started out like you only I can’t remember the last time I ‘bought’ a book. Those $9.99 books by my favorite authors are long gone. I only read the free ones now. The ones with almost nonexistent editing. It got so bad, I haven’t read but 2 books this summer. I use to read a book a day. I won’t pay $16 for an ebook that costs practically nothing to download. The publishing companies got greedy and now they will pay the price.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

    1. I really miss those days… There are a few authors (JD Robb and Sue Grafton) that I will pay for a new release, but otherwise I use mine mainly for business texts and freebies. I don’t read as many books right now because I’m busy testing apps.

  2. Just a heads up…… I read a review today (can’t remember the website right now) that stated that the new Kindle Paperwhite does NOT have audio support. That’s a deal breaker for me. I don’t purchase audio books but I do have a small collection of old-time radio shows that I purchased from Amazon and the Kindle for Android App on my Nexus 7 tablet will not play them. I’m gonna stick with my Kindle Touch for now.

    -Bob F.

  3. I work in the medical field with direct patient care. I can’t tell you how many patients come to our office toting their Kindles for the often long waits to see the doctor. I have told every one of them about ireaderreview.com. Their faces have lit up at the thought of someone like Switch11 doing the heavy lifting finding the free/inexpensive books. It has also introduced an underpaid, overworked employee like me to new (to me) authors and I can’t thank you enough!! Someday, if I become an overworked and adequately paid employee I will take the plunge and buy a Kindle Fire 🙂

  4. I second your endorsement of the Kindle Keyboard 3G. The ads are so unobtrusive that I wonder why the bother! And having 3G with no ongoing cost allows me to do simple web browsing in places it would otherwise be impossible.

  5. I pre-ordered the Paperwhite. I don’t use the apps and I don’t listen to anything on my Kindle, so these are not issues for me. A screen with significantly improved contrast and sharpness is. I had been tempted to go with the new Fire for reading because of these factors. (I enjoy reading on my Nexus 7.)

    Like you, the ads don’t bother me. I don’t even notice them anymore.

  6. I agree that Kindle Keyboard is awesome. It is the best e-reader out there. I was initially very excited about Kindle Paperwhite, but stopped my pre-order finger when I saw there was no audio and less storage space. Text-to-speech is a huge deal to me–it’s so convenient to be able to switch to that robotic voice (which I’ve grown quite fond of) when my eyes are bothering me. I am very disappointed that Amazon seems to be more concerned with taking on Apple than providing the best reading experience. They are forgetting that readers are the ones who made the Kindle brand a success.

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