Before any manufacturer managed to produce an affordable e-reader for the average consumer, Amazon stepped up to bat with the release of the Kindle First Generation in 2007.
On its release date, the electronic-ink e-reader sold out in just under three hours. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accomplished what Sony and Nuvomedia couldn’t – produce a functional e-reader, accompanied by an electronic bookstore, that offered approximately 90,000 titles. Since 2007, Amazon has expanded their digital book offerings, sped through four generations of Kindle e-ink machines, landing with the Kindle Paperwhite, and has even managed to stick their foot in the tablet revolution by introducing the Kindle Fire and, most recently, the Kindle Fire HD.
The most recent addition to the Kindle family, the Kindle HD, came on November 20 when Bezos introduced the revamped gadget at a press conference in Santa Monica, Calif. The all-new Kindle Fire HD is offered in both 7- and 8.9-inch versions, both boasting applications for email, Facebook, and even Skype, though the tablet runs a stunted version of Google’s Android system. This means that the only apps allowed to run are those supported by Amazon’s services. Each size is equipped with front-facing cameras. The sticker price for the smaller HD version is $299, while its larger-screened counterpart starts at $399; each starting price provides an accompanying 16 GB storage capacity. For an additional 200 bucks, the buyer can purchase a 4G version of the tablet, adding the ability to download movies and books when no access to Wi-Fi is available, and boost storage size to either 32 or 64GB.
Amazon has partnered with AT&T, providing access to their 4G LTE network. This network has been noted as one of the fastest cellular networks available, meaning that you should have no worries when you are out in Timbuktu trying to download that new blockbuster movie. However, this access comes with a starting price tag of $50 a month for 200 MB of data. Clearly, this may not be enough for your movie-hungry teenager or the gaming geek that wants to play that new action game in an area void of Wi-Fi access; though obviously, AT&T will gladly grant you more access for a few more dollar bills per month. Film fanatics and music lovers alike will be thrilled to learn that this tablet ships with the latest Dolby stereo speakers, rising above the weak speakers offered on the iPad or Google’s Nexus 7.
But wait, what happened to the classic Kindle that knocked everyone’s socks off at first mention? "Isn’t the Kindle manufactured solely to appease the bookworm?" you ask. No fear! It lives! Amazon has yet to forget about those who only lust for books. Along with the Fire HD, Amazon introduced the Kindle Paperwhite – a new take on its Kindle Touch. Introduced to get a leg up on its competitor – the Barnes & Noble SimpleTouch with GlowLight – the 6’’ Paperwhite has an improved E Ink resolution, even lighting across the screen, and an eight-week battery life. This impressive package triumphs over any other advanced e-reader with similar capabilities. The Nook GlowLight is said to have uneven lighting across its screen display, causing hot spots and distracting from the user’s reading experience. Amazon has perfected this technology, still following the anti-glare model screen to reduce eye fatigue and make sure that reading in direct sunlight is pleasurable; something that the Fire HD cannot promise.
Taking a break from reading has never been so simple; some basic word games are offered with the Paperwhite, such as solitaire and new crossword puzzles. Other helpful features offered on the Kindle Paperwhite include a built-in dictionary, annotation options, and parental control options. Worried about the experience your child will get from a black-and-white display screen? The most popular children’s books and comics are still available on the Kindle Paperwhite and are just as fun to read. At $119 for the Wi-Fi version, and starting at $179 for the 3G version, there is little to worry about if the device is dropped or damaged. If this is still too expensive for your taste, the non-touchscreen version of the Kindle is still offered at $69.
Though this Kindle may not be as interactive as the Fire HD, this gadget is perfect for those only interested in reading that recently released bestseller, or the latest issue of Reader’s Digest. At just 7.5 ounces, the weight and size of the Paperwhite make it easy to hold in one hand for long periods of time – whether on a crowded subway or in a cafe drinking your morning latte. I have long been an advocate of the traditional E Ink Kindle, because it is what Amazon does best. It was the product that they first set out to manufacture, and the first to revamp the e-reader market. Head to pros like Samsung, Apple, or Google, if you are looking for a fully-featured tablets.