Amazon Announces New Kindle Models

September 12, 2012

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Amazon has refreshed their Kindle lineup.  You can now spending anywhere from $69 to $499 on a Kindle-branded device.  Obviously, with such a spread in price, there are going to be large differences in the actual devices.  $69 gets you the bare bones 6″ model that is (almost) exclusively a reader, and has no color.  The $599 Kindle Fire 4G LTE in 8.9″, full color, 64 GB of storage, and runs on a 4G LTE network.

Reader or Tablet?

I think Amazon made a smart decision when they branded the higher end models Kindle Fire.  This nicely breaks the models into two families.  The Kindle Fires are tablets which run apps and also allow you to read.  The other Kindle models have very limited functionality beyond reading.  Customers will have different preferences.

Let’s take a look at the existing Kindle product line:

Note: prices shown are for the “with special offers” version which inserts advertisements (and coupons) into the screen savers.  These never appear within the text of the book you are reading, just the screen savers.  Many people like them, but for $20 more you can opt for a model that doesn’t have them.

Kindle readers

Kindle (WiFi)
This is the bare bones model.  It’s a basic ebook reader, with access to Amazon’s large collection of books.  It’s a good price for an entry level reader, especially one with the backing of a strong brand.  If all you’re going to do is read, and you’re reading in well-lit areas, this is a good reader for you.
Kindle PaperWhite (WiFi)
The PaperWhite has a higher resolution and contrast than older Kindle, but what really sets it apart is the presence of a built-in light.  This makes the PaperWhite more suitable for bedtime reading if your partner is trying to sleep.A 3G version is available for $179.  This allows you to use Amazon’s free 3G service (as well as WiFi) to download books.  There’s also a rudimentary web browser that you can use in a pinch – it’s OK for some lightweight browsing while you’re killing time at the mall, but it’s not well suited for heavy duty browsing.
Kindle KeyBoard (3G + WiFi)
This is the only Kindle with a physical keyboard.  I have an older version of the Kindle Keyboard (mine has 3G, but not WiFi), and I like the keyboard for my occasional web browsing sessions.  Probably a niche product at this point, although I’m in that niche.


Kindle Fire tablets

Kindle Fire
This is the new and improved version of the original Fire, at a lower price.  7″ display, WiFi, 8 GB of storage, and the ability to add apps.  Oh, and you can read books on it, too.  Inexpensive entry level tablet. I actually just bought a used first edition Kindle Fire myself. Ships Sept 14.
 Kindle Fire HD
The HD has an HD display, Dolby Audio, WiFi, and come in a 16GB model for $199 or a 32 GB model for $249.  Ships September 24.
Fire HD 8.9″
 You can get the HD with a larger screen (8.9″ compared to the standard Fire size of 7″) for $299 (16GB) or $369 (32GB).  Ships November 20.
 Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless
This model is available for $499 (32GB) or $599 (64GB).  They key feature is that it runs on 4G LTE networks (as well as WiFi).  You can buy a year of service from Amazon for $50 (250MB per month).  There are also options to upgrade the plan to 3GB or 5GB per month.  It’s quite possible this cost of the data plan will change in the futue, but $50 for the first year is a steal.  Ships November 20.


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