Which Kindle is best for you?

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UPDATE: Amazon has now released several NEW Kindle models.  I have done a full review, comparing features and prices.  Check it here: Comparison of the new Kindles.

No doubt you have heard about the Kindle E-book reader.  It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that a lot of people were saying, “Electronic gadgets are nice, but they will never take the place of real books”.  It looks like that may not turn out to be true, based on the numbers.


Amazon is the largest online seller of books, and last July they reported that Kindle digital books were outselling hardcover books by a 2-to1 margin.  That was just hardcover books; I don’t know about you, but if a book comes out that looks interesting to me, I usually wait for the paperback version.

But now the numbers are even more interesting.  Hardcovers are now being outsold by 3 to 1, and for the first time, Kindle books are outselling even paperbacks (source).

Kindle E-Reader

If you are thinking about getting a Kindle, you need to decide which version is right for you.  There are a few options:  basic Kindle, Kindle 3G, and Kindle DX.

The Basic Kindle (click to view)
This is the simplest model, and the least expensive at $139.  It has a 6 inch display with what Amazon calls E Ink Pearl Technology.  This just means that is has nice contrast, and is easy to read.  The display tries to simulate the actual page of a book, and it does a pretty good job.  You can read a Kindle (any model) in bright sunlight without a problem, so they are good for the beach.  For reading in bed at night, the screen is not backlit so you will need some external light source (again, this is true for all 3 models).

With the basic Kindle, you can get new books anytime you are within range of a wireless internet signal.  Most people have this at home now, or you can get a signal at lots of public places (McDonalds and many other restaurants, most bookstores, most hotels, etc.).  Of course you will need an Amazon account, and your Kindle will be set up with your account information.  When you want to get a new book, just power up and browse.  Find a book you like, buy it, and you have it immediately on your Kindle.   It is really easy, and Amazon is brilliant for having come up with this business model.

Of course, while you are in the range of the wireless signal you can buy as many books as you wish, and they are all stored on the Kindle for you to access any time – you don’t need wireless access to read the books, only to order them.

Kindle 3G (click to view)
The Kindle 3G is the next step up at $189.  It has the same screen size and most other features as the basic model.  The extra $50 is for the connection options.  As you can tell by the name, this one has free access to the 3G network to order new books, so you don’t need to be in range of a wireless signal in order to buy a new book.  You could buy a new book and have it immediately while you are waiting to renew your driver’s license, while traveling on a bus, or while you are visiting someone that doesn’t happen to have a wireless connection in their home.  If you are in a place where a cell phone would work, you can use your Kindle 3G to order.

Kindle DX (click to view)
Here we have the top Kindle model, and also the most expensive($379).  With this model, you get both wireless and 3G connectivity, but you get one more nice feature – a big 9.7 inch display.  Is that larger display worth an additional $190 to $240?  That’s a question that only you can answer.  Some people think so though.

One thing to consider with the cost of a Kindle is the cost of the books you order.  Most are $10 or less, with the exception of some new releases.  So that saves you some money.

Also, you can actually try out the Kindle technology without owning a Kindle.  There are Kindle apps for the iPhone and Android phone, and also for your computer or your iPad.  So you could buy a book and read it on your phone or your laptop if you want.

Do you have a Kindle?  What do you think of it?  Let us know in the comments section.

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February 14th, 2011

Bought my Kindle at Best Buy $139. Also bought the $59 case (with a light to read in bed at night). My husband is VERY happy about the lighted case for night-time reading. There are lots of good books (classics), etc. at Amazon that are actually FREE! My friend told me everyday Amazon comes out with new FREE books (usually a series – where you get hooked) and then you’ll possibly order and pay for the next ones in the series. Anyway….also LOVE the “text-to-speech” feature on the Kindle (except it’s a computer reading the book – you have to get used to it), but it allows you to hear the book when you are driving or busy and cannot HOLD the Kindle. Great for walking (carrying Kindle in my “bagalini” and using headphones). Love it! Thanks for your recent input. I believe I bought the right one for me.

Susan Atwater
February 14th, 2011

Love my Kindle and I am still downloading free e books. My one peeve:

Why is Kindle the only brand that you can not use to borrow a book from the library? It is possible to download a library book for 2 weeks then you cause or it becomes unreadable.

February 21st, 2011

I had a Kindle once for a few days, and I loved it until I dropped it–gently, about one foot onto my desk. It died. I decided to return it because of the many reports I’d heard about the fragility of this ereader. One friend had three breakages in one year, and she’s a very careful person. Thank goodness her device was still under warranty. I can’t justify buying something that breaks so easily.

I’d suggest looking at other ebook readers. As Susan (above) commented, the Kindle is the only (or one of the few) without the capability to “borrow” library ebooks. That’s another big minus in my books. You can save a ton by borrowing from the library and by using royalty-free publications from sites like Project Guttenberg.

I was given a Sharper Image Literati, and it seems much, much sturdier. Not only that, but it only cost $40 on sale. There may not be tons of support for this device, but they continue to upgrade the firmware, and it gets more and more features all the time. Plus, it’s backlit and comes with a free case. I have thoroughly enjoyed owning and using this reader.

This particular ereader may not be everyone’s choice, but, after my experience and the hundreds of negative comments I read online about Kindle breakage when I was deciding whether to replace mine, I just can’t see why anyone would choose a Kindle.