As there are now several versions of the Kindle Reader, and indeed many different generations, we felt it would be most useful to compile a concise guide to the current newest Kindles available to buy today.
Please read on to find out about each one, or click the links below for further details. Or click the blue text above for current pricing and customer reviews.
All feature a basic web-browser ideal for viewing text based sites and ordering new Kindle books. All will allow you to download books in around a minute, wirelessly straight from store to device. All (except the latest tablet) feature paper-like displays, huge memories and a great battery life. Each one works straight out of the box and does not need you to be either technically minded or even own a computer to use.
Kindle Fire Tablet
A low priced, pocket sized tablet with lots of power and free wi-fi access to the web is what a lot of people have been waiting for. True, die-hard Kindle fans might take exception to its back-lit display and subsequent shorter battery life, but for those that want a multi-functional tablet the price is spot on.
Using the Silk Web Browser allows the Amazon cloud computers to do much of the work for the device, so even with a relatively small processor browsing and downloading is quick and easy.
The Fire tablet is currently only available for US delivery. But we expect it to be joined by a 10″ version by the new year, and hopefully wider shipping options too. For full details please see our Kindle Fire specification post.
Update: As of Sept 2012 there are 4 options for those wishing to buy an amazon tablet device. As well as the original Fire tablet (which has been improved with a 40% faster processor, double the memory and longer battery life) now on offer are 3 models with full HD displays. Choose from the 7″ HD version, and 8.9″ HD model, or the awesome 8.9″ 4G HD Kindle Fire. These HD versions come with 10 point multi touch display making them way more responsive and more intuitive to use than the original.
This is the Kindle I’ve been waiting for. Instead of that slightly outdated (if practical for some) keyboard it comes with touch-screen navigation (not a button in sight!).
It has the same 6″ display as the Kindle 3, but is around an inch shorter, and an ounce lighter without the keypad. Pearl E-ink is used so the reading experience is the same as the keyboard version, and again it comes with text to speech, an experimental web-browser and the options of 3G + wi-fi or simply wi-fi.
Both options can be bought with or without sponsored ads, so you can cut your costs further if you don’t mind discounts and offers showing on the home-screen and as screen-savers.
The Touch-screen Kindle is likely to become the biggest selling ebook reader this year. You can read more about the Kindle Touch here.
Update: As of Sept 2012 this model has been replaced by the Kindle Paperwhite. Still using touch-screen technology for all navigation the updated version comes with a high contrast white more “book-like” display. With improved contrast and much better resolution the feature most users are likely to focus on is the built in light which illuminates the entire screen evenly. So no need to buy expensive book-lights any more! Even with the light on you get around 2 months of battery life which is pretty incredible.
Cheap Kindle 4
The Kindle 4 offers the same reading experience as the Touch and 3rd gen models. There is no keypad, so typing will need to be done via the 5 way controller and a virtual on-screen keyboard. I imagine it wouldn’t be that much fun to type a lot, but frankly that isn’t what this pocket sized reader is about. No, this is the Kindle that is purely for reading.
There is no audio, and half the battery life and memory of the other e-ink based models. But with infinite cloud storage and still up to a month between charges who cares?
US customers can also choose to save money with discount ad supported Kindles saving yourself $25 to $50 if you don’t mind seeing special offers as screen-savers instead of famous authors.
Kindle 3G + Wifi
The most popular today by far is the 3G + Wi-Fi Kindle Reader. Available in both slate gray and white it offers the most flexibility and is a super portable, easy to handle size.
Having the ability to connect to the internet by either wi-fi or 3G gives you the easiest option. You don’t need to worry about finding a hot-spot to connect as long as you have a decent 3G mobile network signal. You can view the entire network coverage at the Kindle store by clicking the link above.
The 3G and wifi will work globally. The 3G is free, so will work in over one hundred countries where an agreement has been made with the 3G network provides to give you free internet access via your ebook reader. The wifi is also free. You will need to be in a wifi hotspot that is either unsecured, or that you know the password too. The first time you use a secure connection you will need to input the correct password. Then whenever you reconnect using this same hotspot the device will automatically use the correct password.
You do not need the wireless connection switched on to use the device, merely to go online which might be to post a favorite passage on Facebook, buy a new ebook, or to synchronize your reader with other devices on which you have been reading the same title.
The device is simple to use, feels great in the hands and will store up to 3500 titles in its huge onboard memory, and last up to a month between charges. The outstanding point about these Kindles is the Pearl e-ink display. This gives the best contrast and definition to date of any e-ink based reader, it is easy on the eyes and works great wherever you are (even in bright sunshine).
3rd Generation Kindle Wifi
If you like the Kindle mentioned above, this cheaper alternative (the Wifi Kindle) might be just as good. In all aspects except two, it is identical to the 3G model. The differences are that it does not use 3G to connect to the online world, but instead has only the wifi connection. Also it is only available in the rather stylish slate gray option.
Of course there is one other major difference; the price is a whole lot lower than the model above.
If you have regular access to a wi-fi hotspot this one should be more than adequate. After all you only need to be connected sometimes. When you are simply reading you will no doubt turn the wireless function off to further increase the time between charges. Of course if you are going to be away from free wifi hot-spots for any length of time you will not be able to download new titles wirelessly like you could with the 3G model (if you were in a 3G coverage area). But you can always do things the old fashioned way, and order books to be delivered to your computer and then transfer them with the USB cable that is supplied. And, since you still have that enormous 3500 book memory capacity the chances are you will be able to avoid running out of reading material no long how your trip away lasts.
3G Kindle DX
The final type of Kindle available new is the 3G Kindle DX which has a lot going for it, if size matters to you!
As the title might suggest this DX version uses 3G to connect to the internet. So if wireless downloads are important to you, please do check that your area is has the right level of 3G coverage. It works globally in over one hundred countries (you can view the entire world coverage map via the link above).
The DX Kindle has a whopping 9.7 inch display which makes it ideal for those that are working or studying. But it also proves invaluable for those that wish to view newspapers and periodicals in a more natural format.
If you turn the device, the display will automatically switch from landscape to portrait mode too, which is a nice little feature great for viewing images.
As with all the Kindle readers you can adjust font sizes and browse online whilst you listen to your MP3s. The e-ink display on this larger reader is not the same Pearl technology used on the aforementioned smaller readers. But it still offers a great almost paper like display and a comfortable reading experience.
Kindle has become a name that seems to exemplify all that can be great about a dedicated ebook reader. Simple to use, comfortable to hold and great displays that keep reading the pleasure it should be. Whilst the future is likely to bring us more internet friendly models, with more advanced displays that may feature full color or touch, Kindle remains first and foremost a way to read in the digital age.
There has been a huge amount of speculation of late, regarding what Amazon are planning on doing with the brand in the near future. It now seems very likely that we will see at least one Amazon tablet in 2011 (with possibly a more advanced model due in the new year), along with a touch-screen Kindle and new improved Kindle 4 (based on the current monochrome 3rd generation reader). If the company are planning to re-design their dedicated ebook reader but keep it simple, the chances are we should see some serious price reductions on the cards too.
Update Sept 2011: We were right!