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Which Amazon Kindle Should I Buy? Comparing E-Readers

Updated on May 7, 2013

Kindle E-Reader


Which Amazon Kindle?

Amazon Kindle is definitely the No. 1 brand when it comes to E-readers, in almost every country of the world. But there are quite a few different Kindle varieties out now, so which one should you choose?

Kindle or Kindle Fire?

Amazon's Kindle devices can be divided broadly into two. The first are all the 'standard' Kindles, and the rest are the Kindle Fire tablets. The Kindle Fire devices are more than just e-readers, they are fully fledged tablet computers, like the Apple iPad and Google Nexus tablet. They have colour, LCD-type screens, similar to all other tablets and computer screens. The main Kindle range however are black and white and have digital ink screens (more on this later). All Kindles allow you to buy and read e-books, but Kindle Fire allows you to browse the internet, watch videos and lots more. This article concentrates on the standard Kindles - Kindle Fires will be dealt with in a separate article.

3G or not 3G?

Some Kindles come with the option of 3G connectivity. This costs extra, and means that you can access your Kindle library and the Kindle bookstore whilst on the move and not within a wi-fi zone. This comes with no fees or monthly charges, though delivery of non-Amazon products (such as your personal documents) may incur a charge over 3G (but not over wi-fi).

Kindle Textbooks Userguide

Main Features of the Amazon Kindles

All the standard (non-Fire) Kindles share similar, impressive features. Here's a list of the main ones.

  • Wireless capability, easily connecting to your home wi-fi network or a public wi-fi hotspot. Kindles don't require a computer for setup, installation or anything else. They connect to wi-fi and work straight out of the box. You buy and download books directly from your Kindle, and get them delivered to you in seconds.
  • Amazing battery life. Normal tablet computers, laptops and other portable devices have a battery life of several hours at best. Smartphones might last a day between charging if you don't use them much, but an hour's heavy usage will kill the battery. Kindle batteries last 1 or 2 months (depending on which Kindle it is) at an average usage of 30 minutes a day. That's 15-30 hours!
  • Electronic Ink screen. All computer screens use LCD, TFT or similar technology, which gives out a bright light that can hurt the eyes after extended periods of concentrating on it, and wear down batteries very quickly. E-ink screens are a completely different technology - they are black and white (though colour ones are in development), have low energy usage, and don't cause eye strain from continuous looking at. It is supposed to be very like reading the pages of a book.
  • Lots of storage - the amount of storage varies, but even the most basic Kindle has enough storage for over 1,000 books, plus you get unlimited storage on Amazon's servers ("the cloud") from which you can re-download at any time for free.
  • Adjustable fonts and sizing - particularly good for those who struggle to read physical books, or need large print. All Kindle books can be large print or small, whichever you prefer.
  • Massive choice of books - most books are available on Kindle, including ones that are hard to get or out of print in physical form. There are millions of free public domain books, as well as lots of cheap books.
  • Free first chapters - you can read for free the first chapter of any Kindle books - download as many free first chapters as you like to see if you want to buy them (no obligation to buy at all).
  • Ability to read PDF files and other documents on your Kindle
  • Free built in dictionary.

Kindle $69

The basic Kindle is also the smallest and lightest, weighing in at just 6 ounces. It is only $69, or $89 without 'Special offers' - ads, but only when you aren't reading. It stores over 1,000 books, and the battery lasts for about a month at half an hour a day (15 hours).

The basic Kindle is not a touchscreen, instead you navigate using a precise 5 way controller (a bit like a click wheel on an Apple iPod).

Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon's latest Kindle device. Unlike the basic Kindle, this is a touch screen device, making it easier to navigate between books, highlight words and passages and so on. It also has 2 months battery life, twice as long as the basic Kindle.

The Kindle Paperwhite's main feature however is it's patented built in lighting system. Made from fibre optic wires rolled out into a sheet, it fully and evenly lights up the screen, meaning you can read in the dark, and yet unlike tablets, phones and laptops with backlit screens, it doesn't light up half the room at the same time - perfect for reading in bed when you don't want to disturb your partner. What's more, having the light on doesn't affect the battery life! It comes with 20 different brightness settings, so can easily be adjusted to meet your needs.

Kindle Keyboard 3G

The Kindle Keyboard 3G has all the usual features enjoyed by the other Kindle devices, but also comes with a physical keyboard for typing on. It also comes with stereo speakers, so you can listen to music whilst reading, or even listen to audiobooks and podcasts. There is even a facility enabled on many audiobooks called 'text to speech' where your Kindle will read to you from your book if you want!

The Kindle Keyboard 3G also comes with unlimited 3G access, free with no fees or charges. This allows you to buy books and have them delivered to you for free nearly anywhere in the world.

The Kindle Keyboard 3G is $139, or $159 if you want it to be ad-free.

Your Kindle Preference

What Kindle Do You Prefer?

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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks! I'm gradually getting more tech savvy, but don't feel a need to be web browsing every 2 minutes. For me it's about a reader I can use to call up books easily. As more of these items come out, it just gets more confusing. You cleared that up for me.

    • nakmeister profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      That is right, Kindle, Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Paperwhite are all just black and white. While they can be used for basic web browsing too, they are designed just for reading books, so if you want to do anything else with them or want colour, you need to go for the Kindle Fire (or other tablet and download the Kindle app).

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      This is very helpful, as I have not yet taken the e-reader plunge. So the Kindle Paperwhite has no color if you do anything else?


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