The Amazon Kindle Touch improves upon the Kindle 4 in two very important ways, making it the best new e-Reader for a very attractive price (yes, even at $20 more than the Kindle 4). It has the best combination of features and price. Which makes it an even better e-ink e-reader than the Kindle 4, which I previously called the best e-reader available today. The Touch now takes over that title!
Along with the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Keyboard, you can choose from four different readers depending on your needs and budget. After the review I’ll give you some recommendations on which e-ink to buy depending on your needs.
Because the Kindle Touch and the Kindle 4 are so similar, I won’t rehash what made it great. Read my previous review, since much of what was written applies to the Touch as well.
Kindle Touch’s Key Differences from Kindle 4
- Touch adds a touch screen
- No physical buttons for page turning, menu, back, directional or on-screen keyboard
- Adds audio capability
- A 3G version for $50 more
- Slightly larger and heavier
- Double the storage
Touch Screen for Easier Input
The Kindle Touch improves on the Kindle 4 in two primary ways. It has an on-screen keyboard which you type with using touch rather than the annoying directional button of the Kindle 4. You can add margin notes to your books so much faster with the Touch. Instead of pushing up/down/left/right all day long to type with, you tap on them like you would on your smartphone or tablet. If you’re not a note-taking reader like me, then this feature won’t be that exciting. I consider this much needed, and the most important difference between the two new e-ink Kindles.
The screen of the Kindle Touch responds quickly enough to be very usable. Like the Kindle 4, the redraw of the e-ink screen does slow page turns a little bit compared to my iPad, but I got used to it quickly, so that it wasn’t that noticeable after a short time.
The Kindle Touch has no physical page turning buttons nor does it have a menu button. Instead you tap on either the left, right or top of the screen. Left turns back a page while right advances forward a page. Tap the top of the screen represents to bring up the menu. Highlighting comes from pressing and holding on a word for a second and then dragging your finger to select the words you wish to highlight. A pop-up gives the option to highlight, add a note or a share it using the built-in social networking features (Twitter/Facebook).
Tap a single word and you can look that word up in the dictionary or search for the word in the book using the X-ray feature. Amazon describes X-Ray this way:
With a single tap, readers can see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon’s community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers.
Notice the “Show Full Description” option in the picture above. That’s where you get this community information.
Bringing Back Audio
The second improvement will only be noticed by those who used the older Kindle for listening to audio. With the Kindle Touch there’s a stereo jack on the bottom next to the power button and charging port. You can plug in headphones and get decent sound quality. You can also listen via the built-in speakers. Spoken word sounds okay, but you won’t want to listen to your music without external speakers or headphones.
If you have an Audible account associated with your Amazon account, since Amazon now owns Audible, then you will see your Audible books along with your Amazon books listed in the Archived books sections. Download them just like you can text-based books and periodicals. It takes quite a bit longer, so use Wi-Fi even if you have the 3G version (which costs $50 but comes with free lifetime 3G access to your books). Also, remember that you only get 4GB of total storage with really only 3GB of usable storage for books and audio. That’s enough for a about 300+ 8MB audio files plus your books.
Your Audible book listening progress won’t sync with Audible’s other listening apps. I’d love to listen on my iPhone or Android device and then have the book pick up on the Kindle where I left off, just like it does with text-based books. That’s a minor drawback, especially since I seldom use my Kindle for audio of any kind.
As I complained with the Kindle 4 and the Kindle Fire, I hate the placement of the power button. Now on the Touch, I have to add the audio port. Amazon should have put them on the top! The power button the bottom represents only a minor annoyance. Putting the headphone jack on the bottom really gets in the way if you want to hold the Kindle and read while listening to music.
The Kindle Touch measures slightly larger than the Kindle 4 at 6.8″ x 4.7″ x 0.40″ compared to only 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″ for the Kindle 4. That means its 1.5 to 1.8 oz heavier. The 3G version is .3 oz heavier than the Wi-Fi only version.
I’m very pleased with the Kindle Touch. The extra $20 for the touch screen is well worth the added expense all by itself. Add audio for a bonus.
Which One Should You Buy?
Assuming you don’t care about having a tablet-like experience with apps and a color screen like the Kindle Fire has, which e-ink version of the Kindle should you buy? That depends on what your top priority is:
- Physical keyboard: 3G Kindle Keyboard for $139.99, since you get 3G for nothing more than non-3G version and the ads are not that obtrusive (and can be removed for a small fee).
- On-screen keyboard and Touch Features: Kindle Touch because its easier to type and has audio or get the 3G Kindle Touch for the ability to download books away from Wi-Fi.
- Play audio books or music: The Kindle Touch or 3G Kindle Touch offers the best choice, unless you want a physical keyboard then get the 3G Kindle Keyboard.
- Download Books Away from Wi-Fi: Get the 3G Kindle Touch if you don’t need a keyboard or get the 3G Kindle Keyboard if you do.
- Price is Primary Concern: Get the Kindle 4, because it’s the cheapest at only $79.99.
- Don’t Care About Having Sound and Never Use the Keyboard: Save money and get the Kindle 4.
Of the different offerings, I can’t think of any reason to ever get the Kindle Keyboard without 3G. It costs the same as the 3G version so just get the added functionality for the same cost. Finally, the Touch and the 4 are available with or without Special Offers. Get the cheaper version with the Special Offers and save $20. If you find them annoying, following the link in #1 to remove them.