If you are thinking of getting a Kindle eReader, or perhaps making a change from the one you already have, you can get a ton of information from the Amazon website. Each Kindle has its own product page, with all the details spelled out, and by scrolling down the page, you’ll find a chart to help you compare the models.
My attempt here, will be to sum all this up by highlighting some pros and cons.
First of all… all three Kindle models have a great many things in common. They ALL have: brilliant, sharp e-ink technology; adjustable font sizes; adjustable fonts; choices for line spacing and words per line; sync with Kindle apps; cloud storage for your library; free samples; wireless downloading (you never need to attach a Kindle to a computer); built in dictionary; highlighting and bookmarks; note sharing; and real page numbers (helpful for book groups).
You can shop for books directly from all three, although personally … I don’t shop that way. I enjoy browsing through books and reviews directly on the Amazon website from my computer. When I find a book that I’d like to sample or purchase, I use the buy/sample button on the right side of the screen. By the time I reach for my Kindle, the book has appeared on the device.
All of the Kindles are easily managed on the Amazon website. (I’ll dedicate another few posts in the near future on “how to” manage your Kindle library.)
So now…. let’s look at some things that set these Kindles apart from each other.
Kindle Keyboard 3G
This is now the only model available with a physical keyboard. Some people prefer it over a virtual keyboard (which exists on the other two models).
The page-turning buttons are on the sides, conveniently placed so that you can easily read one-handed. The buttons are quiet. Menu buttons take you to the home page, turn the wireless on/off, etc.
I am a bed-reader. It’s my before-sleep ritual. Research has shown that reading from a back-lit screen (a tablet/computer screen) can interfere with sleep, so an e-ink screen is a preferred choice for nighttime reading. I stop using my iPad an hour or so before bed, and never use it to read at night. I use my Kindle Keyboard, with a clip on book light.
This Kindle has 3G and it is free. No fees, ever. This means that no matter where you are in the world, you can download a book in seconds.
3G on the Kindle Keyboard also means that you do not have to look for a wireless point to download a book… it just does the job wherever you are. ** If you don’t have wireless in your home, this is a very important point to consider. **
There are speakers on this Keyboard Kindle. (No speakers on the Basic or the Paperwhite).
Battery life is awesome. 8 weeks with the wireless off.
It is the lightest of all Kindle models.
This basic Kindle uses a wireless connection to download books. So you would need to be in a wireless environment to receive books. There is no 3G version available of this Kindle.
4 weeks of battery power with the wireless off.
It’s simply a great simple e-reader.
The Kindle Paperwhite
There are two versions of the Kindle Paperwhite (well, to be VERY specific, there are actually four versions):
- wireless only with special offers $119
- wireless only without special offers $139
- 3G with special offers $179
- 3G without special offers $199
The Paperwhite uses touch screen technology.
(A word about the touch screen … I have ordered this new Kindle and I am hopefully optimistic, BUT, I will admit, I do have concerns and I wish they had kept some physical buttons. I owned a Kindle Touch for about a month and never could get used to it. If I touched the screen by accident I would lose my place, and I never seemed to touch it ‘right’. The Kindle Touch and I never became friends. I sent it back. (Amazon has a very generous return policy). Since they have discontinued the Touch model completely, I am hoping they have improved the touch screen for the Paperwhite.)
The Paperwhite has some new features: Resolution and pixel density have been improved, which means even sharper print. They have also added “time to read” which helps you know how long it will take you to finish a chapter or a book. Apparently this feature will constantly change and adapt to your personal reading habits. There is also the new ability to sync Audio and Print reading (listen to an audio version for a while, and then when you revert to reading, the Kindle will put you on the correct page). This is new and they are just beginning to offer packaged audio/text books.
The Paperwhite has 6 fonts to choose from (more than the other models).
I am most excited about the new light system! I’ve learned that the engineering for this screen light is amazing. Although the pictures you see for the advertisements of this Kindle make the screen appear white, (so that it almost looks like a tablet back-lit screen) ….. it is important to know that it is NOT back lit. It is still an e-ink screen. BUT it is covered by light in an awesome layered way. There are no little lights pointing at the screen, but rather this is layered technology (years in the making) and it actually spreads the light out uniformly across the screen in a way that is undetectable to the reader. Think of it as flattening out a fiber optic cable (or spreading mayonnaise across a slice of bread :) ). Light is evenly spread all over the text. You have the ability to raise or lower the intensity of this light, making it brighter or dimmer depending on your circumstances. And, my understanding is, that the lower you reduce the light, the more it looks like a standard, familiar e-ink screen. It is because of this light that the screen appears white when looking at the photographs of the device.
And as for battery life, even with this lit screen, battery life is still an awesome 8 weeks with the wireless off.
For me, this screen light was at the top of my wish list, and I have taken the plunge and ordered the Paperwhite, wireless, with special offers with a mix of caution and excitement. While I’m excited to see the lit screen, I’m remembering my bad experience with the original Touch. They claim it is improved, so I’m hoping they are right.
The Bottom Line
You can’t go wrong with the Basic Kindle or the Kindle Keyboard 3G. I truly have no complaints about the Keyboard model and I’m only upgrading because of the screen light. At this point the Paperwhite looks like an awesome product, I’ve read some very favorable reviews, but personally I would have preferred hardware buttons rather than the touch screen.
Points to remember:
All Kindles do a super job as an e-reader.
Price differences alter “extras”, not the basic reading experience.
Choose carefully between “wireless” and 3G. If you do not have a wireless environment in your home, you’ll find the 3G more enjoyable.