Which Kindle Should You Buy?

Holy crap, we're covered in Kindles. There are six different Kindles you can choose from at 11 different price points. How ever will you decide? Here's a quick look at all of 'em, and our pre-release pick.

The Kindle (cheap)

This is not the old Kindle, it's the new Kindle. But it's just called the Kindle. Don't be confused. This is your base model, but it's 30 per cent lighter than the previous generation, and it's 18 per cent smaller even though the screen is the same 6-inch size. It's only $US79 if you don't mind having ads on your ebook reader. If you want to go ad-free it'll run you $US109. The biggest downside to this model is that there's no keyboard anymore, so when you have to input text you have to deal with scrolling through a slow, awkward onscreen keyboard.

The Kindle Touch

This is the first major departure for the Kindle line (though, not the majorest, ultimately). It does away with almost all of the buttons -- none for turning pages, and no keys for entering text. Instead, you get an IR touchscreen. Good news, the touchscreen looked very responsive, and the onscreen keyboard seemed to work just fine. It's $US99 bucks with the aforementioned ads, or $US139 to damn the man. The coolest part of this one is its X-Ray feature (check out some video of it here), which gives you a bunch of contextual information about the book you're reading. It's actually pretty genius.

The Kindle Touch 3G

It's the Kindle Touch. But with 3G. This means you can download stuff without a Wi-Fi connection. It'll cost you 50 bucks more for the privilege ($US149 with ads, and $US189 without). On the plus side, it is unlimited, contract-free, international 3G, but in my opinion, it's probably not worth it. Maaaybe if you plan on using your Kindle for reading a lot of short things, but if you're primarily downloading full books, those take a while to read, so you can probably just stock up when you have Wi-Fi.

The Kindle Keyboard

This is the old Kindle, but with a new name, and a lower price. They Kindle Keyboard has... a keyboard. It's definitely handy if you plan on doing a lot of searching and typing, but if you're going to be doing more reading than typing, you probably don't need it. It's $US99 with "Special Offers" and $US139 without. It's bigger, heavier and slower than the new basic Kindle, and it costs $US20 more. Unless you're going to do a ton of typing, don't bother. There's also a 3G version available for $US139 with ads, or $US189 without. The subsection of humanity that should buy this is minuscule.

The Kindle Fire

Well, hi there, new hotness. Obviously, this is the biggest departure for the traditional Kindle line. That's because it's not just an ebook reader, it's a full-fledged tablet. There are pros and cons with that. On the pro side, you can do way more with it. Full web, email, Android apps (including some very nice games), video, the whole shibang. It's still small and light, but it's got a Gorilla Glass front, pretty good resolution, and a wide viewing angle. Oh, and it's only $US199. No ads, no caveats. It's fast and very sweet-looking, and yes, of course you can read your ebooks, too. On the con side, it's only available in the US at this point in time, and it's not e-ink anymore, so that sensational battery life is gone. They say you'll get seven to eight hours of screen-on time, which ain't bad, but it doesn't come close to e-ink (think weeks). It's not as easy on the eyes, either (though you can read in the dark). It's built on top of Android 2.3, but it's basically unrecognisable. It doesn't have Android Market, or a lot of other Google goodness, but it's got a fast and (much more) intuitive interface. Easily the best $US200 tablet we've ever seen.

Our Pick

Look, there are two categories here: there's the five e-ink e-book readers, and there's the one tablet. Of the e-ink, e-book readers our pick is... The $US99 Kindle Touch. Wi-Fi only, with "Special Offers". Here's why. Entering text and selecting words is just much easier. It's nice and clean-looking. The X-Ray feature is awesome. It's like a dictionary, encyclopaedia and Cliff's Notes wrapped into a preloaded package (it downloads with the book, so you don't need connectivity to see 'em). And guess what, though we talked a lot about the ads, the "Special Offers" are essentially a screensaver and only display when you aren't reading. They're incredibly unobtrusive, and who knows, you might even find a local deal. At $US99 it's an awesome deal.

As far as the tablet goes, the Kindle Fire looks awesome. For $US199 it's the highest-end device for the least amount of money we've seen (it's the same hardware as the $US500 BlackBerry Playbook). You won't get the full "Google Experience", but this tablet isn't for someone looking to replace a laptop. This device is for consuming media, and its interface is vastly more intuitive than Honeycomb's. If you want a cheap but still very good tablet that isn't an iPad, it's looking like this is your baby. When HP's TouchPad dropped to 100 bucks, it flew off the shelves, and it really didn't even work that well. For just $US200 you're getting something that's alive, good and fast. If you're wondering if you should be excited, the answer is yes, we think you should.

So now you have our preliminary, pre-review recommendations. It just comes down to do you want an ebook reader or a tablet? But really, you could get both of them and it would still cost a whole lot less than an iPad. You can pre-order these now at Amazon if you're in the US, though the new ones won't ship until November 15. Which Kindle (if any) will you take? Let us know in the comments.



    "When HP’s TouchPad dropped to 100 bucks, it flew off the shelves, and it really didn’t even work that well. "
    Any examples of how it doesn't work?
    I haven't had any issues with mine at all.

      Well it's very slow, very buggy, and enormously lacking in basic functionality. No wonder HP dropped it. WebOS needs a lot of work so I suspect HP will drop it also if they can't flog it off.

      Guess you haven't tried running any apps on it. Oh, sorry. I forgot there aren't any.

    If you want a Tablet and you like the features of the unrooted Fire, not to mention the price, then go for that.. if you actually wanted an e-Reader (and want an Amazon brand) stick with the Kindle. It's not really a hard choice. The real choice is whether or not the Fire is a capable tablet that distinguishes itself apart from other tablets already on the market: the choice between an Amazon Tab and another Tab.. not really a choice between which Kindle to buy.. the Fire, by definition, isn't even a Kindle.

      And by "stick with the Kindle" I mean the Kindle 3 Wifi.

      WTF? What the hell do you mean by " Th Fire by Definition is not even a Kindle???????? Its a frigging book reader Made by Amazon, its just a diiferent type. Jeez.and why call it a TABLET its not a Tablet!!!!!! PLease show me from Amazon that describes it as a TABLET .....Its not. Its in your mind.

    <3 my Kindle 3 WiFi (Kindle Keyboard). The "experimental" web browser (here's hoping for an update on that) wouldn't be terribly useful without the keyboard. Great for forums and web-based reading.

    If I were buying today though, would definitely go the Fire.

    Well technically if you live in Australia you only have 1 choice.......

      You can buy from Amazon.com ... is the Fire and the new "cheapo" Kindle not available to international customers through their website? I bought my Kindle 3 before they were available in retail stores of Australia.

        Nope, only the base Kindle is currently available for Internationals :(

    My brother moved from a Kobo to a Kindle, after seeing mine, and said he woudl never go back. i.e. The best thing about Kindle is the ecosystem, so I think it is almost impossible to go wrong with any of them. I'll be sticking with my "keyboard" version with 3G for a while yet, although the Touch looks pretty decent. I cannot imagine I woudl ever find much use for a Fire as I think the eInk display is several orders of magnitude better for reading than any back-lit jobbie and I already have too many devices that need regular recharging.

    i just bought myself an ipad 2 weeks back. any reason not to get kindle fire? 200 bucks is quite cheap :) i might buy them just for the price, but i need a reason ;)

    Does anyone have any idea when they are likely to be available in Australia? I wouldn't mind a Kindle Touch for Christmas!

    Please bear with me (I'm in my late 50's and not a techno savvy as most of you), I have read all the above comments and still un-sure which e reader to buy for my daughter for Christmas.
    When I search for a KIndle Touch WiFi a pic of one with a keyboard comes up, and that doesn't seem like the one you are recommending. Can anyone give me a model number please, or just if it's the model with the keyboard or not.
    Or should I try to order a Kindle Fire so she has a colour display?
    By the way I have a Sony Touch PRS 650 that I got for Xmas last year, and I like it very much, it's simple to use, but probably not as sophisticated as these newer models.
    So awaiting some help please before I buy my daughter her Chrissy present.

    I'm like Julie only older.......and I want a kindle for Chrissie, but aren't sure what to get either. I don't understand about wi-fi, and have been advised that the 3g wi-fi is what I need, but I don't have wi-fi for my computer (just use a dongle) what do I need to buy (apart from the reader) for wi-fi. My daughter has offered me a modem that she has, but I assume I need more than that?

    Bought Kindle touch. Had lots of trouble turning pages. Would jump all over the place - wrong pages, or bring up windows continuously. reading with this was hopeless. Got a replacement one and the same thing happened with the new one. . I did not use it wrongly. In my experience the touch screens are not trustworthy. The Keyboard one is ok.

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