Yes, the Kindle is the best e-book reader around for any book worm who has opted to nibble at digital rather than paper pages. But there are no fewer than four variants of the Kindle available in the market with different features and at different price points. Which one works best for you? Here’s our attempt to help!
All right, I want to try this e-book thing. What is this Kindle thing people keep talking about?
It is an e-book reader from Amazon. It allows you to read e-books.
What’s so great about that – why should’t I just use a computer or a tablet for reading? Or even a phone? I mean, there are e-book apps on those too, right? What’s so special about a Kindle?
Well, yes, you can read an e-book on a computer, a tablet or even a phone (some phones even come with e-reader modes), but those are not designed for reading. A Kindle on the other hand comes with a special display that is not backlit, is easily readable in the sunlight and is actually designed for reading and nothing else – some claim it even causes less eye strain. It is a specialised book reader, so to say. It is lighter and very portable – generally it weighs around 200 grammes at the most.
Why a Kindle? There are other e-book readers too, right?
Yes, indeed there are, most notably from Kobo. But the Kindle is the best option simply because it has the best connected store of books and also because its hardware is excellent.
Right, then, how much does a Kindle cost?
It depends on which Kindle you want. Costs vary from Rs 5,999 ($79) to Rs 20,499 ($269).
Wait, so there is more than one Kindle?
Kindle is the name of Amazon’s e-book reader series. There are four models currently available: the Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite, the new Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Voyage.
Are all of these the ones with e-ink displays?
Yes, indeed. All of them feature six-inch e-ink displays. These are greyscale displays which try to replicate the experience of reading on paper digitally. You cannot view colours or videos on them, but text looks quite amazing. And best of all, it is completely readable even in broad daylight!
Hmm…I am on a tight budget. Which Kindle do you think I should go for?
If your budget is very tight, then the base model is the one for you. It is for Rs 5,999 / $79. It comes with a six-inch touchscreen e-ink display, Wi-Fi and with 4 GB storage. And battery life is excellent at three to four weeks on a single charge.
Wait a minute. Just 4 GB storage? Isn’t that too little?
If you are talking in terms of phones, tablets and PCs, yes. If you are talking in terms of a Kindle, then, not really, because the file sizes of the vast majority of books are very small – you can store more than a thousand books on 4 GB. Even 1 GB is a LOT of space on a Kindle.
But still, any expandable memory option?
None of the current Kindles come with expandable memory, but every book that you download will also be saved in the cloud, where you have unlimited storage. You can download it whenever you want – it will stay in the cloud in your account anyway.
And are there restrictions on book purchases on the base model of the Kindle?
None at all. You get access to the complete Kindle library which has over a million titles, thousands of which are totally free of cost.
How do I get those books on to my Kindle?
There are two ways: either download them from the Kindle store on your Kindle itself, or if you are on a computer or a mobile device, ask for the book to be sent to your Kindle. It will download it automatically whenever you are online. That simple.
Wi-Fi…hmmm….is there a 3G option?
Yes, but not on the basic model. The basic Kindle is Wi-Fi only.
All right, so suppose I am ready to stretch my budget a little – what is the next best option?
Wow, that’s almost twice the price of the basic model. What do I get for paying extra?
Well, for one, 3G connectivity, so you can browse and purchase books at any time you want and not just when you are in Wi-Fi hotspots. The other big advantage is that the Kindle Paperwhite is front-lit – in simple English, it means that you can read it even in the dark, by just adjusting the brightness. Battery life is much better too and almost a month and a half on a single charge.
And how much do I pay for the 3G?
Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero.
3G on the Kindle is free of cost as long as you stick to browsing books on the Kindle Store and downloading them.
Frankly, even though the Kindle has a very basic browser, it is best still for reading.
You called this the “older” Paperwhite. Is there a new one then?
How is it different from the older Paperwhite?
There are a few tweaks, but the biggest change is the display. The new Paperwhite comes with what Amazon calls a high resolution display – it is the same size (six inches) as the other Kindles, but packs in more pixels for a pixel density of 300 ppi. It also comes with Amazon’s font, Bookerly, which makes text look very similar to what it would appear on print. That apart, it is a Paperwhite, so yes, it too glows in the dark and you can also adjust the brightness if you wish. Battery life is very good again – you should be able to get through to close to a month on a single charge.
But do all those extra pixels in the display make a difference?
Yes, they do. The fonts actually look much sharper than in the older Paperwhite, and you can actually consider reading comics and graphic novels on this display – you will not get colors but even the lines are so sharp that you will be able to enjoy them.
Fine, so there is a base model, a Paperwhite and a new Paperwhite. Which leaves the Voyage? What is so special about that?
The Kindle Voyage (our review) is the Kindle flagship. On paper, it has the same six inch high resolution display with 300 ppi that the new Kindle Paperwhite does, but it looks very different indeed, because unlike other Kindle models which have slightly recessed displays, the Voyage’s display is flush with the sides. There are also Page Press icons on the sides, allowing you to turn pages without touching the screen. And while it also comes with lighting that allows you to read at right, it comes with a light sensor that automatically brightens or dims the display according to ambient light. That apart, it is also VERY good looking – just 7.6 mm thin and with an edgy, cut look on the back.
The Voyage must be expensive, then?
And 3G is free on the Kindles, right?
Yes. As long as you use it to browse the Kindle Book Store and download books.
Four Kindles in all then. Which one do you think is the best for me?
Well, we would simplify it thus:
- For those on a tight budget, the basic Kindle model works best. It won’t let you read in the dark but is great for reading otherwise and gives you complete access to the Kindle bookstore at a very reasonable price.
- For those wanting the ability to read in the dark, the Paperwhite and the new Paperwhite are terrific, depending on how much you wish to spend – the new Paperwhite has a much better display, though.
- For those wanting 3G connectivity to be able to browse and download books wherever they wish without spending too much, the Paperwhite 3G is great. If budget is not an issue, we would recommend the new Paperwhite or the Voyage.
- For those wanting the best Kindle experience and a e-book reader to flash around, the Kindle Voyage is THE e-book reader to have.
- For those wanting the high resolution display of the Voyage but not all of its attendant bells and whistles and style touches, the new Kindle Paperwhite is the best option.
(Note: the prices of the Kindles mentioned in this article were as on the date of writing. Amazon does change them frequently, often reducing them for special occasions)