The $79 Kindle

Previously, I owned the second generation Kindle device until I dropped it one time too many.  This was during a time period where the replacing the device would have cost close to three hundred dollars.

However, the first generation iPad had been released.  I figured instead of dropping that much money on a new Kindle, I would apply it instead to the iPad.  I started using the Kindle Application on the iPad to read my already purchased books and continued to buy ebooks from Amazon.

However, I still prefer reading on the Kindle’s E-Ink display over the iPad or even the iPhone.  I decided that if the Kindle would ever drop to around the $99 price point then I would purchase one.

Earlier this week, Amazon announced new Kindle devices for their line.  The cheapest being $79.

I purchased this $79 Kindle device and have already received it.  I have toyed with it over the last few days and here are my thoughts:

The size (6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″) and weight  (5.98 ounces) really caught my attention when I pulled it out of the box.  It fits easily in one hand and is light enough that your hand doesn’t get tired.  I also purchased the $29 case and together both fit in the back pocket of my jeans. (I had to laugh about the price of the case compared to the device.)

I was already familiar with the Kindle’s E-Ink display from previously owning one.  Since then, I still prefer reading off the Kindle devices over the iPad.  I really do “feel” that I am reading from paper than from a computer screen.   Also, you don’t have the sun glare issue if you want to read outside like you would with an iPad.

However, this device is a wi-fi only unit.  This isn’t an issue for me since I own a wi-fi network and most of the places I like to read have free wi-fi.  Also, I currently have ten books on the device to read.  However if you feel you need to have 3G access, Amazon does provide devices with that feature:  the Kindle Touch 3G ($149) and the Kindle Keyboard 3G ($139).   The 3G access is free on those devices.

According to Amazon, the battery life is a month.  Obviously, I have not owned it long enough to push this.  However after a few days of constant use, I have seen no evidence of losing battery life.  There should be no fear of this Kindle losing battery power while traveling.

The biggest drawback for me is the keyboard.  This device has a screen display keyboard and you have to use the 5-Way Controller to scroll the cursor unto the button that needs to be pressed.  This can be a bit cumbersome while inputting a wi-fi network password, making a note or searching the built in Kindle Store.

Because of this, I would suggest using the Amazon website for ordering ebooks or managing your Kindle over this keyboard display.  However, other Kindle devices have either a touch screen keyboard or a physical keyboard depending on your taste. (The wi-fi only Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard is just twenty dollars more at $99.)

This Kindle device is one of the “Special Offers” line.  This means that Amazon will be placing advertising on the device and selling you this unit at a cheaper price point.  This doesn’t detract from the reading experience.  You will only notice the “Special Offers” as the screen saver or an advertising banner at the bottom of one of the menus.  Once you select a book to read, you will see no advertising.  However if you want to avoid the advertising, you can buy it without the “Special Offers” for thirty dollars more at $109.  Also, all the Kindle E-Ink devices do have some form of “Special Offers” discount.  For me, this isn’t an issue.  Might as well keep the thirty bucks.  (Use it to buy the case, lol)

It should also noted that this device only comes with a USB cable for the computer.  This means you will have to have a computer to charge up the Kindle unless you purchase wall plug adapter for $9.99.  Again for me, I have so many Apple devices around, I have a USB to wall adapter already.  Again, I assume this is a way of keeping the price point down.  From what I understand, the other Kindles do have the adapter.  (Note- Apple doesn’t always give a wall adapter on some of their devices either.)

As with so many electronic devices, it comes down to whether the device is a “good fit” for you.  Since I’m an iPad owner, I don’t need a device with all the bells and whistles of the Kindle Fire unit.  Or even the other E-Ink display units that Amazon is selling.

I wanted a simple, portable dedicated ebook reader with the E-Ink technology.  The Kindle device I purchased is perfect for my needs.  However, I do think it is a device that requires the user to be somewhat tech savvy.  If not, I would suggest one of the higher dollar units.

One last point, both the iPad and my new Kindle device together still take up less space and weigh a lot less than my laptop.  Some iPad cases might actually allow you to carry both together.  Much easier while traveling than carrying a laptop.