Amazon just announced three new ebook readers, the new Kindle Touch, the Kindle Fire Android tablet and the latest non-touchscreen Kindle, which is just called the Kindle. Call it the Kindle 4, or Kindle buttons or whatever you like, but it has sent yet another warning shot across the bow of Amazon's competitors. At $79 "with offers" (meaning that you see ads instead of dead authors for your screen saver) and $109 without offers, the latest Kindle is crazy inexpensive. And you know Amazon, they don't make junky ereaders, so you get a decent product for your money.
It has a 6" Pearl E-Ink display running at 600 x 800 resolution, just like the Kindle 3 (now called the Kindle Keyboard). But the Kindle 4 only does that annoying flash to black and full page refresh every 6 pages-- great news for those of you who hate the page flash. Barnes & Noble and Kobo have done the same thing with their latest readers, but they leave a wee bit of ghosted text, while it's nearly impossible to spot it in the Kindle 4.
This is a basic E-Ink ebook reader with page turn buttons, no touch screen and no audio player or speakers. It's great for those who just want to read a novel and have little use for added features. It's not so great for those who use the keyboard much, because you'll enter text using the d-pad and an on-screen keyboard in alphabetic order, rather than QWERTY. It's OK for entering location numbers or a short search term, but you won't like it if you're a note-taker or enter URLs frequently in the web browser.
The Kindle 4 is better looking in person than it is in Amazon's photos. It's light at 6 ounces and more portable than the 8.5 ounce Kindle 3 since it loses the hardware keyboard. Now that you can take out public library books on Kindle and soon have your choice between an incredibly affordable Kindle 4, the Kindle Keyboard, touch screen E-Ink Kindle Touch or the Kindle Fire Android-based color tablet, it looks like Amazon is still the one to beat. But sorry, there's still no ePUB support, and that continues to be the pleasure and pain of owning a Kindle: it offers a super easy way to buy books on the world's largest ebookstore, but you can't buy books from other stores like B&N or Kobobooks.com.
The Kindle 4 is available now. The Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire will be available in late November.
Here's our Amazon Kindle video review, full review to follow in the coming days.