If you’re wondering which is the best Kindle to buy for your needs then you’ve come to the right place. With this article we will do our best to outline which Kindle and which e-reader features are best for your needs. If you want to skip reading details and go for a quick decision, then go straight to our Which Kindle is the Best for Me section.
Kindle Fire vs. Regular Kindle
First, let’s compare the Kindle Fire to other Kindle models, the choice is actually very easy and straightforward. If you want to watch videos, listen to music, read books occasionally (say one or two books per month), and buy/use apps from the Kindle Fire Apps Store then the Kindle Fire is the product for you. It’s a seven inch tablet that lets you do everything you’d expect from a tablet at a great, low price. Check out our to find out more:
Now, if all you want to do is store and read books on an e-reader then the Kindle Fire is overkill for you and you should look to one of the other Kindles. The question now is what is the best Kindle to buy for those who only want to read books? Continue reading to get an overview of several Kindle features that will help you decide which one is for you.
5-Way Control vs. Kindle Touch vs. Kindle Keyboard
Kindle e-readers have three different types of controls that allow you to navigate from page to page, lookup dictionary, make notes (annotations), and highlight passages. They are the 5-way controller, touch screen, or a keyboard. The 5-way controller allows you to use buttons at the bottom of the console to move from page to page and to highlight passages as you read and take notes using its on-screen keyboard (but it is tedious to type more than a few words or urls).
The 5-way controller is standard on the most basic Kindle and is all you need if you do not plan to make lots of notes or highlight passages on the ebooks you read. If you are into highlighting and/or note taking then the 5-way controller is not for you and you should consider a model with either a touch screen or keyboard.
The touch screen is standard in the Kindle Touch and allows you to more easily highlight words or sentences in you ebooks by using the touch screen. With the touch screen also comes Amazon’s Xray feature that allows you to zone in on a word or phrase, highlight it and tap the screen to obtain additional information on that selection.
The Kindle Touch also comes with a virtual keyboard that displays on the screen and does allow you to type actual notes on the text. Since the keyboard takes up real estate on the screen, if you take copious notes then the touch screen will become cumbersome and you should think about getting a model with a built in keyboard.
The Kindle Keyboard has an actual keyboard together with a 5-way controller on its console. It allows you to most easily take notes as you read. It is the most expensive of the basic Kindle e-readers so if you don’t take notes then consider the Kindle Touch. The Kindle Keyboard is truly geared towards note takers.
3G+Wi-Fi vs. Wi-Fi
The standard Kindle models come with WiFi. On Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard you can spend some extra money and get a free 3G option that allows you to access the Amazon store (for buying/borrowing/downloading books, reading reviews of new products, etc.) and Wikipedia from anywhere that 3G exists, which works inside the U.S. as well as over 100 other countries. And you did read that right, the 3G option comes without an additional monthly access fee. Amazon provides the monthly access at no extra cost to Kindle owners. They are definitely banking on Kindle owners buying most of their reading material through Amazon.
Even though the monthly 3G access is free, there is still a one-time additional cost when you buy the 3G model of your Kindle of choice. The cost is not huge, $30-$50 and is definitely worth it if you travel a lot and want access to new ebooks on a regular basis while you are away from home. If you mostly stay local and have WiFi at home, the extra cost will probably do little for you. That being said, the additional cost is not huge so you can get 3G without breaking the bank.
Special Offers or No Special Offers
One last thing to consider when answering the question, “What is the best Kindle to buy?” is Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers. Before we consider if you want them or not let’s define what they are. Special Offers are essentially ads that appear on the bottom of the home screen and on the screensavers of all Kindle models. You can either select to purchase a Kindle with special offers or without. Both options are available in all models. The key point to note is that if you select the special offers you will save from $30 to $50 on your Kindle.
We have to say that after hearing from many Kindle users the special offers seem to be unobtrusive. Several people told us that they didn’t even notice the offers on the home screen until someone pointed them out. Many people also like the offers as they can save the user some good money on ebooks and other Amazon merchandise. We actually recommend the models with the special offers as they are easy to ignore, never interrupt your reading, save you money when you buy your Kindle and can save you additional money on Amazon purchases if you choose. Overall it seems like a win-win. If you are truly bothered by the idea of the ads then just pay the additional money and you will never see a single offer. With the cost of Kindles coming down quite a bit over the past few years it’s not terribly burdensome to pay the additional money if that will make your reading experience more enjoyable.
Okay… So Which Kindle is the Best for Me?
This section concludes our best picks among all the latest models of the Kindle:
The Best Choice: We highly recommend the Kindle Touch with Special Offers (with or without 3G depending on your needs):
- It has an easier interface for dictionary lookups and highlighting.
- You can still type notes through the on-screen keyboard, though it is a bit less convenient compared to the Kindle Keyboard.
- Go for the 3G model if you like the convenience of being able to access the Amazon store (for buying/borrowing/downloading books, reading reviews, etc.) and lookup Wikipedia anywhere in the world. If you travel a lot then this is definitely a no brainer. If you use the Kindle mostly at home with Wi-Fi set up, then just save yourself some money and get the WiFi only model.
- Still in doubt? Check out the review below; it will help your final decision:
The Second Choice: Choose the Kindle Keyboard 3G with Special Offers if:
- You like to take notes while reading books, or you like the physical keyboard
- The main difference from the Kindle Touch is that it has a keyboard for user input but no touch screen. The general appearance of the two devices is a bit different also.
- Amazon no longer manufactures the Kindle Keyboard WiFi only model, so you should get the Kindle Keyboard 3G. If you really want the non-3G Kindle Keyboard, go for the used or refurbished WiFi only model.
- The following link will help you finalize your decision:
The Third Choice: Choose the cheapest basic Kindle 4 with Special Offers if:
- You do NOT need touch-screen or keyboard
- You do NOT need text-to-speech, music, and 3G features (both Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard have all these features)
- We still suggest you to think twice about a Kindle Touch WiFi model, since for just $20 more it gives you a better control interface.
- Check out the review below on the basic Kindle 4. It will help you decide.
I hope it helped, and feel free to share this overview with your friends.