"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Next Generation of Amazon Kindles

Amazon held an Apple-like press conference to announce their next generation of Kindles resulting in the cheapest and possibly best e-book readers to date. There will be three models (or more with alt configurations) with various degrees of features and release dates but all are available for pre-order now.

Kindle Fire ($199); out November 15th; 8 hours per charge
This is the tablet version of the Kindle comes with a 7'' color touch screen, 1Ghz dual core processor, 512MB of RAM and 8 GB of storage for 14.6 ounces. The reason for the lack of space is because this customized Android devise will be mostly cloud based using the Amazon Whispernet in conjunction with Amazon Cloud Storage to hold your books, movies, TV shows and music. Instead of having to store everything locally on the device (like with the iPad), you can just makes your purposes online at Amazon and download as needed. The device also comes with their new web browser called Amazon Silk which takes advantage of the 3G to Amazon's cloud to pre-render websites for faster load times. The device is not designed to be an iPad replacement. If you are someone that isn't particularly into using a bunch of apps (which is most people once the "new" of tablets wear off), but see using tablets for reading (web or books), listening to music, and watching the web, this just might be the perfect (and cheap) solution.
- Impressions and Video

Kindle Touch ($99, $139, $149, $189); out November 21st; 2 months per charge
This is Amazon's response to the Nook Touch. The model comes in three configurations, the "Special Offers" (aka ads), no-ads, 3G Special Offer and 3G ad-free. The Touch has no buttons with everything controlled via the touch interface with page turns being handled as taps along the left or right third of the screen. The size is 6.8" x 4.7" x .40" with a 6" screen. I think the result is about the same screen size as previous model in a slightly smaller package.
- Video

Kindle 4th gen ($79, $109); out now; 1 month per charge
This also comes in two configs, with or without ads. This Kindle is the direct analog to the current Kindle with same 6" screen but smaller size thanks to losing the keyboard. Unlike before, this model no longer has a 3G connection.
Speaking of the third gen model, that has been discounted to $99 (Special Offers) and $139 (no-ads) but I see little reason to get that version over the 4th gen or the touch.
- Impressions with Video

What to Buy?
This is the tough question. The chart to the right makes the decision seem overwhelming. I think you have to break it down to a few questions. The key one is how important to you is access to music and videos? If a lot, then get the Fire. Do you travel a lot? If not, then forget 3G versions. On a budget? Toss out the Fire as all its going to do is encourage you to spend more on books, music and videos. Once decide to avoid the Fire the real question becomes touch or no touch?

That is purely based on your own preference. My experience with the 3rd gen kindle is I prefer Touch as easier to do one handed reading as can just tap the screen to turn the page. I think the best way to figure it out is to hit up Barnes & Noble store and try out their Touch Nook. See how it feels in your hand and simulate how you normally read and would flip pages. If you find the experience pleasant, you only have one last question - the Touch Nook or the Touch Kindle?

That question will be difficult to answer until Kindle display models hit stores in late November. That doesn't even include the strong possibility that the Nook might experience a price drop to compete with the Kindle Touch. At this point, until I can actually compare the models and determine which is more comfortable to hold and use, I am going to wait to purchase.

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