Posts Tagged ‘kindle’

New Kindles – Inexpensive eBook Readers

New Kindle

Last week Amazon announced several new versions of the Kindle, their popular eBook reader. Not only will the new Kindles be inexpensive, but Amazon is lowering the price of the current Kindle.

The Kindle that Amazon has been selling for $114, and the one that I own, will now be $99. That Kindle has a gray scale screen and a built-in keyboard. It also has Amazon’s Special Offers, which are ads that appear in certain areas, but do not interfere with the text when you are reading.

Amazon will now also have a $79 Kindle which is basically the same, but without the keyboard. The screen size and quality will the same, but the unit itself will be smaller because they were able to completely cut out the keyboard. Unless you take a lot of notes, the physical keyboard is kind of superfluous anyway. The four-way controller will still be available for moving around the screen and an on-screen keyboard will appear if you need to type something.

A new Kindle Touch with a touchscreen and Wi-Fi will sell for $99 with Special Offers. 3G versions of the Kindle Touch and Kindle with Keyboard will also be available for an additional cost of $40 or $50, depending on the model. All of these have black and white screens, which I find excellent for “easy-on-your-eyes” reading.

When I reviewed Amazon’s first Kindle in June of 2008, it was selling for $349. The new Kindles are better and obviously much cheaper. These new Kindle’s will make great holiday gifts at affordable prices.

Inexpensive E-Reader and Tablet Just in Time for the Holidays

Kindle Fire
Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

Amazon’s big announcement today will bring several new and/or updated devices to market for the Christmas selling season at some remarkable prices.

The first two are perfect Christmas presents. The new base level Kindle with Special Offers will be smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper. It has no keyboard, but the price will now be $79, down from $114. This is available now.

At $99, the new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi will also make a great holiday present. The KindleTouch with 3G connectivity will be $149. Both are gray-scale e-ink with 6-inch touch screens. These will be available on November 21st.

The third Amazon product is the one that is sure to rock the boat. Amazon is calling it the Kindle Fire. It has a color 7” touch screen and will sell for $199 when it is released on November 21st. They are billing it as the perfect color Kindle (read that as tablet) for movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, games, and web browsing. This device will run on the Android operating system. Amazon has already opened their own Android app store. They have also developed a  special Amazon web browser, called Silk, for the Fire.

The Kindle Fire will not have a screen as large as the iPad. It will not have as much memory or as powerful a processor. It will not have a camera or a microphone. So it will not be an iPad killer. It will instead open the market place to another level of tablet. If the implementation is as good as it sounds, the $199 price point will allow  many who cannot afford the $500+ iPad to get into the tablet world.

The beauty of all this for Amazon is that Amazon will make Amazon purchasers out of all the Kindle and Kindle Fire purchasers. This allows them to subsidize the cost of the device. This is something that no other tablet manufacturers could not do as effectively as Amazon. Other manufacturer brought out tablets that were priced at the high end like the iPad. These tablets include HP’s TouchPad, RIM’s Blackberry Playbook, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and Motorola’s Xoom. All of these have already flopped.

Amazon’s reach for the low end of the tablet market is ingenious. If the implementation is as good as previous Kindle devices, it will give us some great choices for holiday presents this year.

Kindle with Special Offers

I reviewed the first Amazon Kindle in 2007 and I also reviewed the Kindle DX, a subsequent version with a larger screen. In both instances, I liked the device. Yet even though I am an avid reader, I wasn’t ready to buy one. The original Kindle cost $400. The Kindle DX sells for $489.  Those prices were simply too high for my pocketbook.  Recently, however, when a new version of the Kindle called the Kindle with Special Offers became available at a discounted price of $114, the Kindle became much more appealing and I decided to take the plunge.

After using the Kindle with Special Offers for several months, I am loving it. This device is made for just two things:  downloading books and reading. It performs these tasks very well. The screen is easy-to-see, the text size is adjustable. It is Wi-Fi only, but if you have a wireless network in your home, you can download books directly to the Kindle in minutes. If you don’t have a wireless network, you can choose and order your books on your computer and sync them with the Kindle. If you don’t have a computer, you are still covered; you can head over to McDonald’s or any other free Wi-Fi restaurant and purchase your books online there. There are plenty of free books. The Amazon store has all the latest best sellers plus 900,000 other books available for purchase. Most public libraries have already instituted a lending process for Kindle books or are in the process of doing so. You can also borrow Kindle books from other Kindle users.

Once the books are on your Kindle you can read anywhere. This Kindle holds over 3,000 books, so you will never run out of reading material. You can read all day if you like because battery life is excellent and the size and weight make this Kindle easy to hold. The screen uses an eInk pearl technology which is much easier on the eyes than a backlit reader like the iPad. With this type of screen you can also read in bright sunlight. You can adjust both the size of the text and the font to suit your eyes. You can look up definitions of words, annotate the text, and highlight passages.

The biggest negative is that this Kindle doesn’t have a touch screen. You have to navigate with a 4-way scroll bar which is used to move up and down choices. You press a center button to confirm your choices. Compared to using a touch screen, it’s cumbersome, but it is also the cheapest way to get a good ereader.

The other reason that this Kindle is so inexpensive is that it has Special Offers, which is a new type of advertising.  When you are done reading, the Kindle goes to sleep and has a screen saver that promotes these special offers. There is also a small strip showing the same ad in a much smaller version at the bottom of the Home page, where you see you list of books and choose which one you want to read.

The quality of the ads and their presentation really surprised me. Since the ads are black and white there are no brightly colored ads. There are no animated ads. In fact, the ads are really not at all distracting. There are no ads of any sort when you are reading a book. On top of that these special offers are actually pretty good. I have already used several of them, including getting a $10 credit for using a Visa card for an Amazon purchase and getting $10 off a $35 toy, which just happened to be the one my granddaughter wanted for her birthday. So thanks to my Kindle with Special Offers, the price of her present at Amazon when down from $35 to $15 ….a pretty good bargain.

The Kindle with Special Offers has a lot of extras. It can play audio books. If the book publisher permits it, this Kindle can use its text-to-speech feature to read to you. It plays music, has a headphone jack, and even lets you share passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter. It also allows you to get on the Internet to surf the Web, but with the small screen and difficult navigation, you won’t be inclined to use that more than once in a blue moon.

Many tablet PCs can also be ebook readers. You can read ebooks on your computer. You can also read ebooks on most smartphones, but the Kindle with Special Offers makes the reading experience more like reading a real book than any of these other devices.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon puts out a new version of the Kindle for the Christmas selling season this year. In the meantime, however, if you don’t want to wait, at $114 the Kindle with Special Offers is a bargain reading device.

Amazon Kindle DX Review

Kindle DX
Kindle DX

Kindle DX

Bigger is not always better. Although Amazon has added some new features to it’s over-sized Kindle, I found several things that I didn’t like about it. Most noticeably is the fact that it is not as easy to handle as the smaller Kindle 2. Second (which may be first to many), it is very expensive. Third, it has a really crummy keyboard that’s difficult to use and even harder to see the letters on. Here’s a chart that compares the Kindle DX to the Kindle 2.

Kindle DX

Kindle 2

Size 10.4″ x 7.2″ x 0.38″ 8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″
Display 9.7” diagonal 6” diagonal
Storage 3,500 books 1,500 books
Weight 18.9 ounces 10.2 ounces
Price $489 $299

Everything that was great about the Kindle 2 is still great in the Kindle DX. The device is sleek, thin, and attractive. The Amazon’s Whispernet service allows you to download books (and browse the Internet) over the Sprint cellular network without any monthly fee. The screen is bright, clear, and easy-to-read. It has excellent battery life. You can make the text larger or smaller. There is a speech-to-text option that can read the text to you. You can play music while you read. There are over 300,000 books and periodicals available in the Kindle Store.

Although the larger screen is great and it requires less page turning, the device itself must be held with two hands and is a bit heavy for extended reading. Where the Kindle 2 could be handled and read like a paperback book, I found the DX gave a whole different feel.

The DX does have native support for PDFs and you can turn it to read the text horizontally as well as vertically. Yet the auto-turn mechanism is a bit too touchy and it often turns when you don’t want it to.

Amazon has lowered the price of the smaller Kindle 2 to $299 while the DX is $489. Even $299 is expensive for an ebook device. I can buy a whole netbook computer for that price. As you know, I am usually the first one to fall in love with a new device, but if I were to purchase a Kindle right now, I would go for the Kindle 2 rather than the pricer DX. Here are my pros and cons of the Kindle DX:

Pros

  • Excellent design
  • Large screen
  • Less page turning necessary
  • Good  battery life
  • No monthly fees for wireless
  • Excellent text quality
  • Large library of content
  • Good in bright light
  • Easy to buy books, magazines and newspapers
  • Speakers and headphone jack for audio
  • Compatible with PCs and Macs
  • Can be used without a computer
  • Native support for PDFs
  • Useful text-to-speech feature

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not as portable as the Kindle 2 with 6” screen
  • Very poor keyboard
  • Grayscale only. No color.
  • You cannot change the size of the type in the Kindle Store
  • Stiff scroll button
  • Somewhat heavy and slightly awkward for lengthy reading
  • No zoom for PDFs

You can read my detailed review of the Kindle DX with pictures on HardwareSecrets.com.

Amazon Kindle E-Book

Smaller & Lighter than a paperback
Smaller & Lighter than a paperback

I recently had the pleasure of using the Amazon Kindle e-book reader for a few weeks. It’s a big step forward and better than any of the previous electronic books.

The technology behind the Kindle is nothing short of amazing. Great clarity and battery life and you can resize the text to fit your visual needs. You can buy books from the Amazon Store and access the Internet without any wires and even better, without any monthly fees. (I told you the technology was wonderful.)

Unfortunately,some of the design features just don’t measure up. Yet, if you like to read, it may be a worthy purchase. And if you like to take reading material along when you travel, it may save you money with the new “charge for luggage” airline rules.

You can read my full review at Hardware Secrets. Feel free to post your comments either here or at Hardware Secrets.


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