CNET First Look
Amazon Kindle TouchThe Kindle Touch is one of the best full-featured e-book readers you can get for $99.
I'm John Falcone, Executive Editor at CNET, and this is the Amazon Kindle Touch. Amazon was a pioneer in the e-book reader field, but this is the company's first touchscreen E-Ink model. It's got the exact same 6-inch Pearl E-Ink touchscreen found on rivals like Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch and the current Sony Reader models, but the Kindle Touch has some important distinctions. First off, Amazon store is, in our opinion, the best e-book store on the web, and the Kindle Touch gives you direct access to that store via Wi-Fi or, on some models, free 3G wireless. So you can browse and buy books, magazines, and newspapers at your leisure. Another Amazon advantage is Amazon Prime. It costs $79 per year, but that entails you to free shipping and thousands of free videos on other devices. On the Kindle Touch, Amazon Prime membership grants you access to the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, which lets you read thousands of e-books for free with a limit of one new title per month. That's in addition to support for borrowing e-books from your local library, another feature that's now supported on the Kindle. The Kindle Touch is also one of the few E-Ink readers to support audio. In addition to playing mp3's and audible audio books, the Kindle Touch also offers text to speech on many books, so you can have the book read to you. You can listen over the built-in speakers or connect to your headphones. Beyond those extra features, the Kindle Touch is a great E-Ink reader. Unlike LCD readers, there's no glare and the screen offers the look and feel that's very close to that of the printed page. Texts sizes are adjustable and page turns are faster and more responsive than that on Kindles of years past. Using the touchscreen is simple and intuitive and you can tap on anywhere to get a dictionary definition, highlight texts, make a note, or share passages on social media networks. Except for the home and standby keys, there are no physical buttons. You just swipe or tap the screen to go forward or back. If you keep the wireless turned off, the battery lasts for weeks. The Kindle stores hundreds of books, magazines and newspapers and everything you could buy is stored in a Cloud as well so you can access your e-books through Kindle apps on other tablets and smartphones, and you'll never run out of space. At around 7.5 ounces, the Kindle Touch is basically the same weight as the Nook Simple Touch. If you want an even lighter model, you can opt for the stepdown Kindle, which tips the scales at under 6 ounces, but it doesn't have a touchscreen. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the Kindle Touch is its price. It starts at $99 for the ad-supported Wi-Fi version and $149 for the ad-supported 3G version. I found the special offer ads to actually be pretty useful with everything from discount e-books to local merchant offers. If you don't, you can upgrade to an ad-free version of either model for an extra $40 after the fact. The worst thing we can say about the Touch is that its accessories cost extra. You'll probably want to invest in a case and even the AC adaptor will cost you $10; though any USB port or cellphone charger should use it up just fine. In the final analysis, the Kindle Touch is a world-class E-Ink reader that includes some useful audio features at no extra cost. It's a steal at $99 and an enthusiastic editor's choice. I'm John Falcone, and this is the Kindle Touch.