CNET First Look
Amazon Kindle 2011If you don't want to spend the extra $20 to upgrade to the touch-screen version, the entry-level 2011 Kindle is a great choice for an ultra-portable and superaffordable no-frills e-ink reader.
Hi. I'm David Carnoy and I'm here with the new Kindle. This is just the basic Kindle. It's not the Kindle Touch. This is a non-touch screen model and its claim to fame is that it only costs $79 and it's a lot lighter and slimmer than the original Kindle 3, which is now called the Kindle Keyboard. Yes, as you can see, the one big design change here is that there is no keyboard. Amazon has slimmed down the device. It now weighs a scant 5.8 ounces. The model you see here is the Kindle with Special Offers version. That means there are ads on it. You could call them Special Offers but for lot of people they are ads. They're not intrusive, they're only on a homepage and also, as a screensaver, they're not in the books themselves. We think this is a better deal at $79 than the $110 version which has no ads. This basic Kindle is Wi-Fi only. If you wanna get 3G, you will have to step up to the Kindle Touch and that 3G version stars at $149. Because this is a non-touch model, there are buttons on the device; there are page turn buttons on both the left and right side of device, and a few buttons on the front. Now, because there is no keyboard anymore, you have a little keyboard button that pops up a virtual keyboard and then you have to navigate through that keyboard touching each letter to spell things out. It's a little bit tedious but it's not as tedious as we thought it would be and a lot of people don't' really feel like you need the keyboard on this device. It's not an essential feature. Like previous models, this does have an experimental web browser so you will have to type in URLs using that keyboard. This uses the latest Pearl E Ink Screen, that's the same screen that was on the previous Kindle, as well as the Nook Touch, the Sony Readers and the Kobo Touch. One of things that Amazon is saying about this new Kindle is that it has a faster processor that allows for faster page turns. We did know it's a huge difference but this has a slight edge over the Kindle 3 and the other thing that Amazon has done is, reduce the flashing like Barnes & Noble has done with its Nook Touch. Instead of the screen flashing with each page turn, it now flashes every 5 to 6 page turns. This comes with 2 Gigabytes of memory which allows you to store about 1400 eBooks. One of the other differences between this model and the step-up touch is that it doesn't have audio capabilities and there is no text-to-read functionality. In tweaking the device, one thing Amazon appears to have done is also shrunk the battery. While Amazon said you'll get a full month of battery life if you use this about a half an hour a day with the Wi-Fi off. That's about half as much as you get with the previous Kindle model. One of other small thing worth mentioning is that this comes with only a USB cable, there is no AC power adopter that came with the previous model but that's an option accessory but for a lot of people, you can either charge it to your computer or you can use a cellphone charger that has USB connection in it. Really at the end of the day, we didn't have any complaints about this Kindle. It's really a nice sleek-looking, a lightweight and definitely an advancement over the previous Kindle. We didn't mind not having the keyboard. That said, for an extra $20, you can hold out for the Kindle Touch. We do feel that's a better value. You get that audio, you get that touch screen navigation. So if you can afford that extra $20, we suggest stepping up to the Kindle Touch. However, if you can't, you are getting a perfectly good, nice e-reader here in the basic Kindle but to reiterate, we do think this is a better deal in the Kindle with Special Offers version for $79 rather than the $110 version with no ads. I'm David Carnoy and this is the new entry-level Kindle from Amazon.