What is the Best Kindle for Me?

In 2009 we’d written a post on choosing a Kindle – Which Kindle is Best for You?

For some strange reason, lots of people are reading that post these last few days. Guess it’s time to do a post for 2013 on Choosing a Kindle. It borrows from that post, and also from this post from 2011 – Which Kindle? Kindle Buying Guide.

What is the Best Kindle for Me?

Well, first let’s look at the options.

Amazon sells the following eInk Kindles -

  1. Kindle WiFi with Ads for $69. In the budget eReader market, this really is the best choice. You get a device focused on reading, at a very low price. You get access to the Kindle Store, which has the best range of ebooks. It also has the lowest ebook prices. As a bonus, the Kindle Store has the most free books from new and upcoming indie authors. The Ads only show on the screensaver, so they don’t impact your reading experience. The eInk Pearl screen isn’t as white as the Kindle Paperwhite’s, and there’s no in-built light, but the reading experience is still very good. You get Amazon’s infrastructure and customer service. There are sometimes cheaper deals – However, Kindle WiFi with Ads for $69 is easily the best budget eReader when you consider the overall package.
  2. Kindle Paperwhite with Ads for $119. Kindle Paperwhite was the best eReader since its launch, until recently. Now Kobo Aura HD has arrived and it’s hard to say which is better. Kobo Aura HD is $169 which is considerably more expensive. However, you get a higher resolution HD eInk screen, which should lead to a markedly better reading experience. You also get what should be better lighting for the screen (unconfirmed until actual use). Kindle Paperwhite still boasts the better store (Kindle Store is better than Kobo Store), the better infrastructure and services package, and considerably better customer service. My recommendation here would be to wait a few months and see what Kindle Paperwhite 2 is like. If you can’t wait and can afford $169, then Kobo Aura HD is a safe bet. If you can’t afford $169, then Kindle Paperwhite is your best option.
  3. Kindle Paperwhite with 3G and Ads for $169. If you want 3G access on your eReader, Kindle Paperwhite with 3G is the only choice. 3G access is helpful if one or more of the following are true for you – you travel a lot, you read while commuting, you live in a region without easy WiFi access, you don’t want to deal with having to look for WiFi hotspots. You get free 3G access to the Kindle Store and 60-second downloads. You also get all the other benefits of owning a Kindle Paperwhite.
  4. Kindle DX 2 for $299. I really can’t recommend this. This is the only large screen eReader available, so you might be tempted to buy it. However, the technology is 2 years old and the product line had been discontinued. Amazon is perhaps going to release a new Kindle DX, in which case you’ll regret buying something that’s 2 years old. If Amazon doesn’t release something new, then this will be the only option, but it’s an exceedingly poor one. There are a few things you miss out on – Kindle Paperwhite screen (previous generation), eInk Pearl screen (2 generations ago), HD eInk screen (latest generation), in-built lighting. Paying $299 for a device from 2 years ago makes little sense – it’s the equivalent of buying a brand new car manufactured in 1980. Just get a Tablet instead or a Kindle Paperwhite.

The Kindle WiFi, the Kindle Paperwhite, and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G are all good choices. It depends on what your needs are, and what your budget is. In later sections, we’ll discuss further on which is the Best Kindle eReader for you.

Amazon sells the following Kindle Fire Tablets -

  1. Kindle Fire Tablet at $159. This is a slightly updated version of the original Kindle Fire. I would very strongly recommend NOT getting this. This is very, very outdated now. If you can’t afford the $199 Kindle Fire 2, then get a Nook HD for $129 (currently on sale), or wait to see if Nexus 7 goes on sale for $149 once the Nexus 7 2 arrives. Here’s an example of why it’s outdated – Kindle Fire 2 has 1024 by 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, and is $159. Nook HD for $129 (currently on sale) has 1440 by 900 pixels screen resolution at 220+ ppi. Just that screen difference alone will make you cry if you ever see them side by side. Plus Nook HD is on sale for $129.
  2. Kindle Fire HD at $199. This is a good, solid tablet with a great screen, the best speakers of any tablet, and all the Amazon ecosystem and infrastructure benefits. If you are set on buying a Kindle Fire Tablet then it comes down to this (7″ screen, $199 price) or the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ (larger screen, slightly more expensive at $269). This is better if you want a more compact, easy to carry device. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is better if you want a larger screen. Do consider the Nook HD and Nook HD+ at $129 and $149 respectively. They now seem to be on permanent sale.
  3. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ at $269. This is the larger screen Kindle Fire HD. This is very similar (almost identical) to the Kindle Fire HD, apart from having a larger screen and weighing more and being slightly unwieldy. At this price you also need to start considering the iPad Mini which offers a much richer App Store for $60 more. It also is much lighter while still having a screen larger than the 7″ Tablets. Another option worth checking out is the Nook HD+ at $149 (much cheaper since B&N is clearing out stock).
  4. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ LTE at $399. I really wouldn’t recommend this. Paying $130 more for LTE makes zero sense. It’s just a $25 to $35 chip – so you’re gifting Amazon $100 for nothing. Also, at $399 we’re competing with $499 iPads and Samsung’s higher end tablets and $329 iPad Minis. Kindle Fire HD doesn’t win any of those comparisons – unless you are very attached to Amazon’s ecosystem. Even then, it’s irrational to pay $399 for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ LTE.

Out of the 4 Kindle Fire Tablets, the best choices are the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. You should also consider fire sales like the one currently going on with the Nook HD+ (just $149) and the Nook HD (just $129). The Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ are good, solid choices. Kindle Fire HD is the better choice of the two, unless you want a larger 8.9″ screen.

Let’s get into more detail below.

Should I get a Kindle eReader or a Kindle Fire Tablet?

This is a good question. It depends on what your needs are.

Kindle eReaders with eInk screens are good if -

  1. You read a lot. This is the main criterion.
  2. You are not looking for a device that can do more than read. This is pretty important too. An eReader isn’t good for anything else. It’s not a tablet you can read on. It’s a device you can ONLY read on.
  3. You want a device optimized for and built for reading.
  4. You already have a tablet and want a reading focused eReader to complement it.
  5. You read quite a bit in sunlight – at the beach, by the pool, in the park, etc. Note: No matter what device manufacturers claim, LCD screens aren’t readable in direct sunlight. You need an eReader if you often read in sunlight.
  6. Your eyes get tired after reading for a long time on LCD screens. Note: There are LCD-compatible people who complain loudly at the mere suggestion that LCDs can hurt the eyes. There are LCD-incompatibles who prefer eInk over LCDs. There are also studies that show that reading on LCD screens before sleeping time causes sleep problems. Your individual case will differ. See if reading on LCD screens works for you or not. If not, then you’ll love the eInk screen.
  7. You want the lightest possible device because your hands get tired from holding Tablets for long. If you read in stretches of longer than 15-30 minutes then you really need to get a 7″ Tablet or a 6″ eInk Reader. Those are the only two devices that you can hold for long stretches. Of them, the 6″ eReaders are half the weight – So, if your hands are weak and you read for long stretches, then you probably need an eReader.
  8. You want something for reading which is far cheaper than a Tablet. Note: If you can’t afford a Tablet consider the fire sale on the Nook HD ($129 now). You can also wait for the release of the new Nexus 7 2. Nexus 7 might drop to $149 after Nexus 7 2 arrives.

The two keys are -

  1. You should get a Kindle eReader if you are looking for a device optimized for reading and which can be used only for reading.
  2. You should get a Kindle eReader if you want to read more and/or love to read. If you want a device suited for people who read a lot.

If you read more than a book a month, then spending $69 on a Kindle WiFi or $119 on a Kindle Paperwhite is a good decision.

Kindle Fire Tablets are good for you if -

  1. You want a device that can do more than just read. In particular, you want a Tablet that you can do lots of things on – read books, watch movies, play games, check the Internet, check your email, listen to music.
  2. You want a device on which you can also check your email and surf the Internet. While these things are technically somewhat possible on Kindle Paperwhite, they are very inconvenient and inelegant. In effect, you can’t really do them on eReaders.
  3. You don’t read more than a book a month and/or You are fine reading entire books on LCD screens. If you are LCD-compatible, you’ll probably miss the color and shine and glimmer of LCD screens.
  4. You are an Apple or Google person. If you believe strongly in Apple products or in Google products, then the design decisions and overall user experience of the Kindle eReaders will bother you to your very core. For Apple – There’s a stark lack of aesthetics and animated page turns. For Google – there’s no openness, only a walled rainforest.
  5. You feel it’s not worth it to buy a separate device focused for reading. You also might not want to carry around both a Tablet and an eReader.
  6. You don’t usually read in the sunlight. Note: As mentioned earlier, LCD screens don’t work in sunlight. So don’t believe the marketing nonsense about anti-glare layers and such.
  7. You do one or more of these things often – watch movies, surf the Internet, check email, listen to music. You want a Tablet that allows you to do these easily and conveniently. Important: Kindle eReaders are NOT Tablets. They are devices dedicated to reading books and they don’t really do anything else.
  8. You can’t afford an iPad or iPad Mini OR You prefer Amazon or Amazon’s ecosystem. If money is no object then you should get an iPad – no matter what. If you absolutely dislike Apple then get a Surface Pro or a high-end Samsung Tablet. Kindle Fire Tablets are not high-end or luxury tablets and if you can afford a high-end tablet it will almost certainly provide a markedly better experience.
  9. You want a Tablet that ties in with Amazon’s offerings like Amazon Instant Video and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Kindle FreeTime for Kids. Kindle Fire HD is perfect for that.
  10. You travel a lot and/or have a long commute and want a Tablet to pass the time and/or make some use of the time. The downside with a Kindle Paperwhite is that you can only read. If you want a device that also lets you play a quick game or check the news then you need a Tablet.

The three keys are -

  1. You want a Tablet i.e. a device that can do lots of things.
  2. You want a Tablet from Amazon.
  3. You don’t read a lot and/or you are fine reading for long stretches on LCD screens.

If a Tablet is what you’re looking for, your next questions is – Is Kindle Fire HD the best tablet for me? What is the best Kindle Fire Tablet for me?

The following sections will help you answer those questions.

Which is the Best Kindle Reader for Me?

That’s a tough question. The three best Kindle eReader choices each have their own unique advantages -

  1. Kindle WiFi – This is the cheapest. The eInk Pearl screen is still very good. This is the most compact. This is also really good as an add-on device dedicated to reading if you already have a Tablet.
  2. Kindle Paperwhite – This is the best option if you don’t need or want 3G. The screen is great. The device works well. It’s pretty well-priced at $119. Note: Please also consider the Kobo Aura HD.
  3. Kindle Paperwhite with 3G – This is the only option if you want an eReader that also has 3G store access and 3G book downloads. It’s pricy at $179 but worth it as the 3G is very, very convenient.

Get Kindle WiFi if one or more of the following are true – money is tight, you already have a tablet, you read just one book a month, you aren’t really much of a reader, you are buying it for your kids, you want the lightest and most compact eReader, you’ll use it only on occasional trips and vacations.

Get Kindle Paperwhite if one or more of the following are true – you want the best reading screen out of all eInk Kindles (also consider Kobo Aura HD if this is the case), you want the newest Kindle (you could wait for a few months for Kindle Paperwhite 2 if you want the absolute newest model), you read a lot, you need an eReader for your daily commute, you travel often for work, money is no object and you want the best screen (consider the Kindle Paperwhite 3G and the Kobo Aura HD too), you are OK with having only WiFi, you read a book a week or more, you read often at night and need the built-in reading light the Kindle Paperwhite has.

Get Kindle Paperwhite 3G if one or more of the following are true – you will read books often while travelling or commuting and don’t want to bother with finding WiFi (Note: WiFi is only needed to download books and to shop for books, not for reading books that are already downloaded), money is no object and you think 3G will help.

Kindle Paperwhite is perhaps the best fit for most people. Do consider waiting a few months to see what Kindle Paperwhite 2 will be like.

Which is the Best Kindle Fire for Me?

If you’ve decided on a Kindle Fire Tablet, chances are that the Kindle Fire HD or the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is the best choice for you. The two best choices have their own unique advantages -

  1. Kindle Fire HD – This is the 7″ Kindle Fire HD. This is a good choice if you want a compact, light Tablet with a very high quality screen and great speakers and decent usability. If you can afford the iPad Mini, get that instead – it is easier to use and has a lot more apps. Kindle Fire HD at $199 is perhaps one of the best choices after iPad Mini (also consider Nook HD at $129). This is the best choice if you want a lighter, more compact 7″ tablet, or if your budget is only $200.
  2. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ – This is the 8.9″ Kindle Fire. This is $269 and a good choice if you want a larger screen. Perhaps you want to increase font size in books. Perhaps you want a larger screen for magazines and Internet surfing. Perhaps you want the larger screen for HD movies to have more room. The downside of having a larger screen is that the device is slightly heavier, it is larger, and it is a bit awkward to hold for long periods. Also consider the Nook HD+ at $159.

Get Kindle Fire HD if – you want a 7″ tablet, you have a limited budget (consider the on-sale $129 Nook HD if that’s the case), you want a lighter tablet, you have arthritis in your hands or have weak hands, you have smaller hands and want an easier to grip tablet, you want something you can throw into your purse or handbag easily (the larger model won’t fit smaller purses), you have good eyesight and don’t need a 8.9″ screen for large size font in books and websites, you want a more compact tablet.

Get Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ if – you want a 8.9″ tablet, you have weak eyesight and/or you like reading in larger font sizes and want to be able to see more of the large font size text on pages in books and websites, you don’t mind a slightly heavier and a larger tablet, you won’t be travelling with it and it doesn’t have to be small OR you don’t mind it being less compact, money is no object and you don’t mind the $70 higher price, you prefer it over iPad Mini (I think iPad Mini is a better choice than Kindle Fire HD 8.9″), you want a device better suited for magazines and newspapers, you don’t like the much cheaper but equally good Nook HD+ at $149.

Unless you have a need for a large screen device, I would recommend the Kindle Fire HD or the cheaper $129 Nook HD.

Is there a better eReader than the Kindle eReader?

For the moment, you have the Kobo Aura HD as a serious contender -

  1. Kobo Aura HD offers a better resolution screen than the Kindle Paperwhite and, at 6.8″, the screen is a bit larger than the Kindle Paperwhite’s 6″ screen.
  2. Kindle Paperwhite offers a better store and better services and infrastructure.
  3. Check out our Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Aura HD comparison for further details.

It depends on what you value more. If screen resolution and clarity and sharpness of text are most important to you, then you should get Kobo Aura HD or wait for Kindle Paperwhite 2. If the largest ebook store with the best prices (and the most free books) is important for you, then get the Kindle Paperwhite.

Is there a better Tablet than the Kindle Fire HD?

Yes, there are several. My rough ranking would be -

  1. iPad Mini.
  2. Surface Pro if you want a good keyboard and Windows 8.
  3. iPad.
  4. Samsung’s higher end Tablets.
  5. Surface RT.
  6. [Tied] Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD and Nook HD+ (the latter two are on sale for $129 and $149).
  7. Nexus 7.
  8. Other Android Tablets.
  9. Other Windows 8 Tablets.

Kindle Fire HD is, however, the best Tablet under $200 (tied with Nook HD). It’s also tied with Nook HD for best 7″ Tablet.

  1. If you’re looking for a smaller 7″ tablet, at a price below $200, then Kindle Fire HD is perfect for you. Note: Nook HD might be a better fit if your budget is tight.
  2. If your budget is higher, get an iPad Mini or Surface Pro or iPad. If you need a larger screen, but are short on money, consider Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD+.

Well, that brings us close to the end of our ‘Best Kindle for You’ article.

What is the Best Kindle for Me? Only you can decide

We’ve walked you through all the choices and it’s pretty clear that -

  1. You need to decide whether you want an eInk Kindle or a Kindle Tablet.
  2. If you want an eInk Kindle, then Kindle WiFi, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Paperwhite 3G are all good choices. Kobo Aura HD is also worth considering.
  3. If you want a Kindle Fire Tablet, then your choice depends on your budget. If your budget is tight, the $199 Kindle Fire HD and $129 Nook HD are your two top choices if you want a 7″ Tablet. If you want a larger Tablet but have a tight budget, the $269 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and the $149 Nook HD+ are your two top choices.
  4. If your budget is more expansive (or limitless), then iPad Mini, Surface Pro, and iPad are your best three choices. The new Kindle Fire HD 2 will arrive by end of this year. At this stage, however, it’s hard to say if it will beat out iPad Mini and Surface Pro. It’s somewhat unlikely.
  5. You could get a Tablet and an eReader. A good combination for the budget conscious would be a $149 Nook HD+ and a $69 Kindle WiFi. For those with more of a budget, you could get an iPad Mini for $329 and a Kindle Paperwhite with Ads for $119.

Best of luck with your decision on ‘What is the Best Kindle for Me’. If you can wait 2-3 months, you’ll have a much better choice of eInk Kindles – perhaps even a Kindle Paperwhite HD. If you can wait 4-5 months, you’ll have a much better choice in Kindle Fire Tablets.

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