Hands on With the Kindle

November 14, 2011

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, while we were all listening to Peter Gabriel, I ordered the new $79 Kindle model. The three readers in our house have been happily passing it around the last few weeks. We’re making the jump from the Kindle 2 to this model, having skipped the Kindle 3 (aka the Kindle Keyboard).

Some might wonder why anyone would go for the $79 Kindle when the Kindle Touch is only $20 more. There are some nice additional features on the touch that you can’t have on the Kindle, like audio, 3000 books (in case 1500 isn’t sufficient), and added search functions. And the touch screen, of course. But the touch screen is exactly why I didn’t wait for the Kindle Touch. I still prefer to have the next page a simple thumb press away rather than the added motion of reaching for the screen. Not to mention that with little ones around the house, touch screens tend to lose their glamor under the grime of small fingers.

This Kindle is a fourth of the the price we paid for the Kindle 2 it is replacing. (I think they were selling for $379 when they were introduced.) Yes, we gave up the keyboard and navigating the onscreen keyboard is clumsy. I look for ways to avoid it. We also had to give up the free lifetime 3G data, but I don’t we will miss it. Everything else about it is a movement forward. It’s smaller and lighter. The screen contrast is better and page turns are faster. Of course, there’s the main reason we upgraded…delivery from our local library is direct to the device and cable free.

The stand out feature, though, is one handed reading. Being able to hold the Kindle in one hand with your thumb resting on the Next Page button is pretty doggone great. Initially, I had a gripe about the grip; the trim form factor makes it hard to feel like you have a good grip on it. After an hour or so of reading, I found that I could cradle it in my palm with my ape like thumb stretching up the side to the buttons. If you don’t have ape like thumbs, you might need to find your own position. (I can testify that my wife does not have ape like thumbs, and seemed to have no trouble paging through The Help with one hand this weekend while eating the fantastic gluten-free maple bacon pancakes that I had whipped up. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.))

But the stand out stand out feature is $79. I’m happy to see the price point dropping on e-readers and broadening the e-book audience. I know there are still some ebook skeptics out there, but $79 goes a long way toward soothing the skeptic souls, and wallets, of most who might not have taken the e-reader dive. And at $79, I’m far more willing to have a Kindle availably around the house for those smaller, and grimier, hands.

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