The Basic Kindle
Lost amid the excitement about the Kindle Fire Tablet and the Kindle Touch is the fact that there is a new Basic Kindle that is only $79. This is a significant drop in price for ereaders. No major ereader has had a regular price of less than $99.
The Kindle Basic is slightly smaller than the Kindle Touch (6.5 by 4.5 inches vs 6.8 by 4.7 inches) and less than 6 ounces. For comparison an iPhone 4 is 4.8 ounces.
Instead of a touchscreen, the Kindle Basic has small buttons on the side for changing pages and on the bottom for moving around the screen and other interaction with the device. I think that this is the major weakness. You will not be able to take any notes on the kindle basic.
The Kindle Basic also does not have speakers or a headphone jack. So this version does not support Text To Speech or Audiobooks. Many people like the Text To Speech feature (the kindle reads to you in a computer voice), but I do not ever use it. I do however, love audiobooks and the Kindle integration with Audible.com.
The Kindle Basic only has a Wifi option. So if you do not have access to Wifi at your home or office, you will want to get one of the other models with 3G access.
The two main other ways that Amazon cut the price is by putting in a slightly smaller battery and slightly less storage. These are not major issues. The difference between 1 month of battery and 2 months of battery really is not a huge deal. Until there is a battery that does not need to be plugged in, you have to plug it in occasionally. And if you do not have any audiobooks, the amount of storage should still be quite sufficient.
The $79 price is the ad supported price. I personally prefer the ads (there are good offers for cheap books and other things I actually buy) and the ads are only on the screen saver and at the bottom of the home page. The do not appear in the books themselves. I have a separate post on why I prefer the ad supported kindle. If you do not want ads the price is $109.
This is the only new Kindle that is in stock and ready to ship right now. You can purchase here.
Overall, unless you are very price conscious, I would get either the $109 Kindle with Keyboard, or the $99 Kindle Touch. I think the keyboard (either physical or touch), the Text To Speech and Audiobook integration, the larger battery and the extra storage are worth the extra $20 or $30.