By Sudarshana Banerjee
Amazon has introduced four Kindle models, including its much awaited tablet device, dubbed Kindle Fire.
A quick look at the models, and our take on whether you should buy, or maybe just not yet.
The new Kindle
Part of the next-gen Kindles, featuring a new design that is 30 per cent lighter (5.98 ounces) ,18 per cent smaller, and turns pages 10 per cent faster. The 6-inch, electronic ink display remains the same. The display is still black and white, in case you were wondering. This does not come 3G equipped mind you, and has built-in WiFi only. The new Kindle retails for $79 with special offers (offers and sponsored screensavers display on your screen when you’re not reading), and $109 otherwise.
In case you missed the ‘Touch’ part, this model comes with a touch-screen. The design is 8 per cent lighter and 11 per cent smaller from what you are used to. There is no physical keyboard. The Touch model (WiFi only) retails at $99.00 with special offers (offers and sponsored screensavers display on your screen when you’re not reading), and $139 otherwise. The Kindle Touch 3G has all of the above, plus free 3G, and retails for $149 with special offers, and $189 otherwise.
This is where things start getting a little tricky. First of all, the Fire is WiFi only, and comes in only one flavor (no special offers to subsidize the price on this one). The Kindle App runs on Apple and Android alike; but it is unclear whether there will be a corresponding Apple app for Kindle; which means you may well be locked into Amazon’s walled garden; not that it sounds like a disconcerting proposition because the garden already has 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books. Will it have the movie you want to see? That is anybody’s guess. By the way, if you are a Amazon Prime subscriber, your free-ership privileges get teleported to the Kindle Fire as well.
Silk AND smooth?
Amazon promises ulta-fast Web browsing with Amazon Silk. This could be true, because like say Apple, the hardware and the software is very closely coupled. It could also do what Chromebooks tried to, but lost out on the form factor (Chromebooks were touted as a serious rival to notebooks; Kindles do not even begin to make such claims), that is, pre-load applications and sites from its Cloud infrastructure.
On the other hand, one may have security concerns, and Silk can well be the new Google because it will be our gatekeeper to all that we see and hear on the device. Hang on a sec. If you are using Amazon or Kindle, Amazon already has your preferences and shopping/browsing histories, so maybe the ship has sailed on the privacy one.
Get a Kindle. Think about the Fire.
The Fire first. If you are using WiFi to watch TV shows/movies, chances are you have a computer or a notebook at hand, and you might prefer streaming the content there. Since you are anyways paying $199, you may be tempted to look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab or heck, even an iPad, or perhaps, just perhaps a PlayBook. Rumor has it, B&N is also about to come up with a new version of their Nook reader, so you may want to wait till you see the latest Nook avatar. Plus this has no camera, and no VoIP calling yet. On the other hand, if you are looking for a lightweight fun experience, this may be a pretty good bet.
If you do not already have a Kindle, a new Kindle could be a good buy. If you are just looking for something to read, and not other thrills besides, like a game of Angry Birds, that is. In which case, you have to basically chose between the Touch models and the earlier models with keypad; plus whether you want advertisement on your screen or not. The earlier models with keypad still continue to be part of Amazon’s product line, and the fact that the company is neither discounting or discontinuing the models is a fairly good indicator of their popularity. Having said that, these devices are primarily e-readers, and if you do get them, you will have to limit your marvel to how closely these devices approximate reading on paper (If you are thinking about color magazines, you have to think Fire). That is not necessarily a bad thing; Kindles may not be a lot of things, but they are gosh darn good as e-readers.
My Clippings and all the jingbang
Amazon is letting you store your content on the its Cloud, for free, which may be a pretty good selling proposition, and a pretty good reason to buy. This is especially helpful for students who can underline parts of text, or write notes, and later go through just the marks and the notes.
The application also uses something called WhisperSync across devices, so you can start reading a book on your Kindle and seamlessly jump to it on your phone, and then take it from there at your home computer.
Jeff Bezos (Founder and CEO, Amazon.com): Kindle Fire brings together all of the things we’ve been working on at Amazon for over 15 years into a single, fully-integrated service for customers.