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.

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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.

Kindle Touch 2 Features Review (Kindle Paperwhite Review)

Kindle PaperWhite (Kindle Touch 2) is now available at Amazon.

Kindle Paperwhite is $119. Kindle Paperwhite 3G is $179. Kindle WiFi is now only $69.

Kindle Touch 2 Features Review – Top 10 Kindle Touch 2 Features

  1. $119 Price. Significantly undercuts Nook GlowLight ($139).
  2. Free 3G with $179 Kindle Paperwhite 3G model.
  3. In-built Light – eInk eReaders were always great for reading during the day and in bright sunlight. The addition of the front light to Kindle Touch 2 (Kindle PaperWhite) makes it great for reading at night too. Mr. Bezos said that Amazon spent 4 years developing the technology (perhaps they should have devoted that time to color eInk, adding page turn buttons, and adding proper folders).
  4. Adjustable Screen Brightness. Illuminates the screen evenly. Supposedly throws light only towards the screen and not at your eyes.
  5. Improved Screen – 25% better contrast and 62% more pixels does sound good. 212 ppi is very impressive.
  6. Better Battery Life – Two months of reading half an hour per day with the light on is impressive. It translates to 30 hours or so of non-stop reading.
  7. Lighter and More Compact – 9.1 mm. 7.5 ounces. Even the bezel is thinner.
  8. Available for Preorder today. Link isn’t live yet. Ships October 1st.
  9. Hand-tuned Fonts. There are 6 font styles and 8 font sizes. Will have to see Kindle Paperwhite in person to see whether these are as promised.

There’s a new Time to Read feature which tells you how long each book and chapter will take to finish. It customizes itself to your reading habits. Sounds like a cool feature – will have to see how it is in real life before making a call.

Kindle Touch 2 Features Review – Specifications

Missing items will be updated as and when Amazon reveals them.

  1. Price – $119.
  2. You can also get Free 3G with the $179 Kindle Paperwhite 3G model.
  3. Screen – 212 ppi. HD screen. 62% more pixels than Kindle Touch. 25% better contrast.
  4. Processor – No details.
  5. RAM – No details.
  6. Memory – 2 GB on memory, 1.25 GB available for user content.
  7. WiFi – 802.11 b/g/n.
  8. Touch – 2 point multi-touch.
  9. Formats Supported – Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively. HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
  10. Text to Speech – If Publishers enable it for their books.
  11. Power Adapter – Not included. USB charging cable.
  12. USB Port – No. Just a microUSB charging port.
  13. Weight – 7.5 ounces (213 grams). The 3G+WiFi model is 7.8 ounces.
  14. Dimensions – 9.1 mm thick. 6.7″ by 4.6″ by 0.36″.

Kindle Touch 2 Thoughts

Amazon has taken its sweet time to release its rival to the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. However, it’s done a great job.

You can read TechCrunch’s thoughts on Kindle Touch 2 (Kindle Paperwhite).

What are my favorite 5 features of the Kindle Touch 2?

  1. There’s a Light. Not sure why it took 4 years of R&D. Adjustable brightness and even illumination are good features – nice to see Amazon match B&N’s Nook with GlowLight.
  2. Price of $119 is great. The availability of 3G model is also a good touch.
  3. Screen improvements are great. Need to dig in more into the whole HD thing. Screen does look very white.

What are things I don’t like about the Kindle Touch 2?

  1. No Page Turn Buttons.
  2. More as more information is revealed.

Is the $119 Kindle Paperwhite (Kindle Touch 2) the best eReader available. Yes, in my opinion. Of course, I have to actually use it to confirm.

Kindle Touch 2 Thoughts, Analysis

Kindle Touch has a new version, Kindle Touch 2, about to be unveiled on September 6th. Here are some Kindle Touch 2 thoughts and analysis based on what we know so far.

Kindle Touch 2 – What we Know about Kindle Touch 2

A few Kindle Touch 2 images have been leaked and the following details are now clear:

  1. It will have a lighted display. All that unmet demand B&N was talking about (for its Nook with GlowLight) – Well, guess who is going to help B&N meet that demand.
  2. Kindle Touch 2 might be called Kindle Paper White. Because, obviously, if you are replacing an earlier technology you should keep referring to it endlessly. That’s why Ford named his Car the Ford HorseFast.
  3. It promises better contrast and higher resolution. Or as Bing Translator translates it – High Resolution and Marked Contrast. Which could mean anything.
  4. It promises integrated lighting and 8 weeks of battery life – even with the lighting on. That’s impressive. Please Note: 8 weeks = 8 weeks with half an hour of reading every day. AKA 28 hours.
  5. You can see the power button at the bottom, what looks like a microUSB port, and also something that might be a headphone jack.
  6. The physical design of the Kindle Touch 2 seems to be very similar to the Kindle Touch 1. No page turn buttons?
  7. One of the screenshots shows WiFi being on. There will probably be a 3G model too.

Kindle Touch 2 Images are viewable at Pocket Lint.

Side Note: My designer says that the Kindle Fire 2 images leaked so far are possibly fake. The borders are all fuzzy and seem photoshopped. Of course, if it is fake, it somehow matches Amazon’s Cardboard Box Bland Design Aesthetic perfectly. So the other possibility is that someone photoshopped the real images to look fake (which makes zero sense).

The Kindle Touch 2 images, on the other hand, seem real. Translating the entire interface into French is more effort than someone would go to for a fake mockup.

Kindle Touch 2 – What can we deduce about Kindle Touch 2

  1. The main selling points seem to be – Lighted Screen and Higher Contrast, Higher Resolution display.
  2. The Kindle PaperWhite name seems a bit strange. However, it does fall in with Amazon’s crazy naming patterns. We are talking about a company that named its Long-Term Data Storage solution ‘Amazon Glacier’.
  3. Given past Kindle models it’s safe to say that Kindle Touch 2 would be available in these variants (with guesses for prices) – Kindle Touch 2 with Ads and WiFi only for $99, Kindle Touch 2 with 3G and Ads for $149, Kindle Touch 2 with no Ads and WiFi only for $139, Kindle Touch 2 with no Ads and 3G for $189. It must cost something to add the lighting and it’s unlikely Amazon can cut prices in spite of adding lighting and presumably a better battery.
  4. Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) have not gone out of stock. This suggests they are not getting a refresh. Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire have (in case you missed the Most Pointless Press Release of All Time) and they probably are getting replaced by new models – Kindle Touch 2 and Kindle Fire 2 (more than one, if the rumors are correct).
  5. There are rumors of a new Kindle DX. However, I find that unlikely given how little the Kindle DX seems to sell (just an uneducated guess).
  6. The Marketing push will be – Best Reading Experience in Sunlight, Best Reading Experience at Night, Best Screen, Free 3G, Feels/Looks Just Like Paper.
  7. Kindle Touch 1 screen was 600 by 800 pixels resolution at 167 ppi. If Amazon is touting both higher resolution and higher contrast it’s safe to say we might see the ppi and resolution both increase.
  8. Kindle Touch 1 was 7.8 ounces (220 grams). Kindle Touch 2 will be adding lighting and still have the same battery life. That suggests a bigger battery and might mean the weight increases a bit.

It’s quite impressive. The Lighted Screen is a big, big deal. Battery life of 28 hours of reading with the lighting on is also very impressive. 8 weeks at half an hour per day = 28 hours. Not quite as impressive sounding as 2 months. It does translate to 4-7 books read without the hassle of a recharge.

Kindle Touch 2 vs Nook GlowLight

How would Kindle Touch 2 compare with Nook GlowLight?

  1. Both would have screen lighting. At this point we don’t know enough to say whether one would have (slightly) better screen lighting.
  2. Kindle Touch 2 promises 8 weeks of reading with the light on. Nook GlowLight promises ‘over 1 month’. Kindle Touch 2 would probably win here by quite a margin.
  3. Nook GlowLight comes with a power adapter and a screen protector. It’s nice that the anti-glare screen protector is pre-installed (I can never figure out how to get those on without air bubbles and endless frustration). Kindle Touch 2 might follow the Kindle Touch 1 ridiculousness of selling a power adapter separately – No Computer Required. Unless you want to Charge!
  4. Nook GlowLight has the same resolution and contrast (or similar) as Kindle Touch. If Kindle Touch 2 comes with better resolution and contrast it would have a big advantage (if the improvement is quite stark).
  5. Nook GlowLight has a microSD card slot which is a big advantage if you want expandable storage and flexibility.
  6. Nook GlowLight has ePub support but doesn’t support Kindle format. It does, however, support ePub books from other stores.

At the moment it seems that SD Card Slot and ePub support would be the B&N Nook GlowLight’s main advantages. Kindle Touch 2 would have better battery life and better screen contrast and resolution. Both would have the dual benefits of eInk+In-Built Lighting for – the best daylight reading experience PLUS the best nighttime reading experience.

Amazon would use Ads to perhaps price Kindle Touch 2 at $99 – about $40 less than the $139 Nook GlowLight. That might be the key difference.

All in all, it seems that Kindle Touch 2 will be a strong successor to Kindle Touch and will displace Nook GlowLight as the #1 eReader choice. We’ll have to wait until Kindle Touch 2 is actually out and available to figure out which eReader is going to be the #1 choice for 2012 – Kindle Touch 2 or Nook GlowLight.

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