New Amazon Kindle Line-up (Sep 2011)

Just over a year ago I posted about my experiences with the Kindle 2. I concluded that the Kindle was great for reading, but that too much space was wasted with the thick bezel and the unnecessary keyboard down the bottom. The Kindle 3 was then released with a smaller bezel and condensed keyboard, but still not the most functional design. I mocked up the following image, which I though would make for a mode ideal reader:

Amazon has now just announced the 2011 updates to the Kindle line-up, and they're all a step in the obvious direction. The base model, simply called Kindle, now looks like this:

They finally got rid of the keyboard, and replaced it with the navigational pad and a few buttons to bring up the home screen, search, etc. This means it's smaller and lighter and doesn't look as ugly. It's also now cheaper at $79, but does not have the option for 3G.

The next in the line-up is the Kindle Touch:
This is more or less identical to the new Kindle in size and weight, but has a multi-touch screen and so does away with the directional pad and menu buttons as well. Not really sure that those stripes are at the bottom, perhaps a speaker or a scroll-pad. It looks sleek though, and definitely an improvement from last year's versions. The Wifi only model is $99, and the 3G model is $149. Note though that these are the ad-subsidised prices, i.e. Amazon has replaced the screen-savers and idle screens with ads for you to buy more stuff. No ads appear when you're reading though, and some ads may actually help you find new content that you'd be interested in, so it's win-win really. 

The third new product in the line-up is the new Android based Fire Kindle:

This is not an e-Reader. It's a 7" tablet with a good IPS high-res color LCD screen. This means you don't get the two months long benefits of the e-ink readers, or the passive light screens which are supposedly friendlier on the eyes. On the plus side though, you can do much more then just reading books. You can watch videos, listen to music, play games, check your email, update your Facebook, etc. And at $199, it's probably the best-valued tablet you can get your hands on at the moment. The only things missing are integrated webcam or photo cam and microphone. There's also no 3G option - this thing is WiFi only.

So there you have it. Two slimmer, more functional e-Readers for a cheaper price, and one full-colour tablet. Which one's right for you?


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