It has been a while since I have had a reading tools post. But after a couple months of using my new kindle, I thought it might be time to give my impressions. The current generation of kindle comes in two basic options (Wifi only or 3G/Wifi), each with a Special Offers or a regular version. I decided to get the Wifi only version with Special Offers. Mostly because it was the cheapest kindle at the time. Since I purchased my kindle (for $114), the Wifi only Kindle now regularly has a refurbished Wifi only Kindle in stock (with a same as new warranty) for $109. And more importantly, a couple weeks ago, a 3G/Wifi Special Offers Kindle was introduced for $139. I believe this is the best deal right now.
Special Offers kindle are basically ad supported kindles. There are only two places where ads appear. First, on the home scree (see picture above) there is one less book on the screen so that a small ad can be on the bottom of your home (library) screen. Second, the author screen savers on a traditional kindle are replaced with ads. These alternate between general ads for things like Oil of Olay and Visa, then Amazon ads (usually for email lists or kindle newspapers, etc.) and finally deals ads. The deals ads are what people really want. So far I have purchased:
- Buy a $20 Amazon gift card for $10
- Two different choose a book from a list of about 40 books and pay with a Visa card and get a $10 Amazon Gift Card
- Two different choose a book from a list of about 40 books for $1
There are also a number of deals I have not purchased those include:
- Get $50 of a product for $25 (Skin care, camping gear, jewelry, baby products, etc)
- Get a $25 gift card with any purchase of an android phone
- Start a new Audible account and get 6 audiobooks for $6
- Get $10 off any Kindle Skin or $10 off an Amazon Kindle Cover
Overall, I think the Kindle With Special Offers (generally referred to as KSO) is a fairly good deal. I would not have purchased any of the four books at the time I purchased them if not for the ads, so Amazon is generating sales (at least from me) and I feel like I am getting some value from the kindle. I also do not feel like the ads are very intrusive. Overall, unless you really hate the screen savers, I would get a KSO instead of a regular Kindle without ads.
I also learned a few things about the new kindles. First, the pearl screen really does make a difference over the first and second generation screens. Second, I like the new controller a lot more than the K2 button or the K1 scroll bar. Third, the new smaller page forward/back buttons are still not small enough to stop you from accidentally hitting them when you pick up the kindle. Fourth, with the KSO version, there are finally links at the end of the book to the next book in a series or other related books. This is a feature that has always seemed so easy to enable. There is also a link to post to Facebook and Twitter that you have finished a book. Not something I am interested in, but not a bad feature.
The only real complaint I have with the Wifi only kindle is that it is difficult to connect to Wifi in two situations. With a regular home wifi router, there is no problems. Set it up once, it remembers that password, forget about it. But it will not work with a peer to peer connections, so if you use your phone as a tether, or if you are trying to share you wifi from your computer to the Kindle, it will not work. Second, if you are at business and the business has a signin page, the kindle browser does not work with many of those sign in pages. This should not be a big deal. But I was stuck in the Denver airport for 8 hours. I finished two of the books I had with me and wanted to download a book I had in my archive to start reading and I could not connect either through my phone or through the free wifi in the Denver airport. Now I always have about 100 books on my kindle, but I was really wanting to read the next book in a series and could not. When I purchased the Wifi Only KSO the difference between the Kindle I bought and the cheapest 3G Kindle was $75. So I went with Wifi Only. But now the difference is $25, so I would probably recommend the 3G KSO to most people.
The current rumors that I keep hearing is that Amazon is going to come out with an Android based tablet sometime in the next two to three months. I honestly have no interest in this as a reader. I have an iPad and I hate reading on a tablet. It is too heavy and I am too distractible. I need something that only reads, and I very much prefer an e-ink screen. The second rumor that I think is less likely is that there will be a new touch screen e-ink kindle before Christmas to compete with the new e-ink Nook. Right now, the e-ink Nook has better specs for reading than the Wifi only Kindle. It has a touch screen, a touch screen keyboard and a slightly smaller overall size (6.5 by 5 by 0.47 compared to 7.5 by 4.8 by .33), while having the same screen size and good readability. Sony has had a touch screen model for a couple years, but the touch screen overlay meant that it was harder to read. The Nook has an infrared touch screen so there is not an overlay and the readability is the same between the Nook and Kindle. The problem for me with the Nook is that there is no audio, so no audiobooks can be played from the Nook. It also does not have a browser (which is not a big deal to me).
I would like a smaller device (but not a smaller screen) and am interested in the touch screen, but without any real display improvements, I think the most important feature, is a price below $100. If Kindle can come out with a price below $100 then they should release a new version in the fall, if they cannot, then they should stick with the android tablet and wait on a new e-ink kindle. Traditionally Amazon has had a new kindle every 18 to 24 months, so a new Kindle e-ink should not come out until after Christmas.
If you have to have the latest thing, then you probably want to wait for the new android tablet or maybe a new eink Kindle. But if you want a very good deal, I would recommend the current $139 3G/Wifi KSO or the $114 Wifi Only KSO.
The features I want a new kindle are almost all software based. 1) I want some type of parental controls or sub account. I share my account with kids and there are books that are good books, but not appropriate for children. I would like some way to restrict books from a particular kindle device. 2) The wifi should connect to peer-to-peer routers. That is a restriction that just doesn’t make a lot of sense. 3) The sound levels on the current kindle are just not high enough. I leave mine at high virtually all the time and it still is a bit quiet. 4) The archive needs a better organization system. I know I am not normal, but the archive has both my Audible and Kindle books in it and that means I have nearly 1500 books or about 150 pages of books in the archive. If you know what you are looking for, it is not hard because you can jump by letter. But if you forget the book name, it can be difficult to find a book.