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Are refurbished Kindles a bargain?

Amazon is selling refurbished second-generation Kindles starting at $159.99. But are they a deal?

Amazon is selling refurbished Kindles as part of its warehouse deals program. Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

With the third-generation Kindle now shipping, Amazon has begun offering refurbished second-gen Kindles at a discount. That includes both the Kindle and Kindle DX, which sell for $159.99 and $289.99 respectively in their refurbished states.

It's unclear exactly what condition these Kindles are in, but we presume they're basically indistinguishable from new product, and may, in fact, be extra stock that was left over when Amazon announced the new Kindle at the end of July. They may also be Kindles that customers returned shortly after learning that a new Kindle was on the way.

Either way, the question is whether they're worth buying or not, and the answer, at least when it comes to the 6-inch model, is probably not, because the design and screen upgrades are worth the extra $40, and, if you're on a tight budget, you can buy the new $139.99 Wi-Fi-only model.

Where it gets a little trickier is with the refurbished Kindle DX. Except for the new black, Amazon kept the design the same, but the new DX's screen has better contrast (darker lettering). If you've really been hankering for a DX but thought the price was too steep, $289.99 seems more reasonable. However, at the bigger size e-reader, the iPad still looms at $500.

What do you guys think? Deal or no deal?

Note: As you might expect, Amazon only has a limited number of refurbished Kindles available, so these deals are "subject to availability." Amazon also sells a new version of the second-generation white Kindle DX for $259.