I have a Kindle Fire which is in color, is video capable, etc. and, oh yes, also is an e-book reader. It sounds like more than you need (although you might enjoy it thoroughly). My spouse picked it out for me after researching both the Kindle and Nook, and also after my sister let him thoroughly investigate her Kindle, which is an older, black and white, less capable variety.
Basically, a Kindle will do everything you want, and you do have options between basic and bells-and-whistles models. I’ve been very happy with mine, and my sister with hers.
I got the cheapest, stripped-down Kindle – I don’t connect via Wi-Fi, but get stuff via email to my home 'puter and connect the Kindle to the 'puter via USB. Works fine for me.
The key selling points, for me:
battery life is pretty good. I recharge less often than once in three weeks. And I read a LOT.
it displays flat .txt files. I can use Word to convert nearly anything to .txt, and am entirely happy with this.
(I do not know how to send it underlining, bold, or other commands. I would like to learn this!)
it displays PDF files pretty well. Not great, but not bad.
it lets you adjust text display size for readability. Us nearsighted blokes like that a lot!
I can back up my library on my computer, and rotate books in and out to the Kindle, entirely at my own preference.
you can search for strings of text! Holy yay! If you remember reading something about “perennial repositories,” and want to find the quote again, it will pop right up. Absolute selling point! You can also enter your own bookmarks and notes. I tend not to do this, because I don’t know how to attach them to the book files when I transfer them back to my base-station computer.
I’m currently getting a lot of joy out of free books from Project Gutenberg. Catching up on the classics! Free books on a Kindle: pure graft!
The only disadvantage: I have to remember to change my grip every so often, to keep my hands and arms from cramping. With a bound book, this is automatically part of the reading process, but with a tablet, you can forget, and your hands stiffen up. Don’t do that!
I’ve got lots to learn yet, but, damme, I love this machine!
The Kindle Fire isn’t a very good ebook reader. I have a Fire, but still wish I had a normal Kindle for reading. It’s too heavy, has too much functionality, doesn’t have an e-ink display, and the touch screen is quite bothersome (you have to hold it from the back or around the edges to avoid accidental page-turns). The Fire *is *very nice if you want to play games, or if you have Amazon Prime and want to stream movies and watch youtube and check email for free over wifi. But I think a lighter-weight Kindle would be better for your purposes.
For you, I recommend a Kindle 3g with keyboard. It’s lightweight, has an e-ink display, has 3g connectivity (for life, for free!) so you can connect to the internet without wifi, *and *you can manhandle the screen all you want without worrying about accidentally turning the page.
This is the one I have. It goes everywhere with me. It’s a light as a feather and, provided you remember to turn off WiFi when you don’t need it, the battery can last for weeks (depending, of course, upon usage).
I find it very easy on the eye, mostly because the pages look like pages but also because the font size can be altered (this isn’t unique to the Kindle, of course).
I love my kindle but there’s times I’m re-reading a favorite webcomic and can’t do it from those… I keep the wifi in mine switched off and just transfer books via cable. Being able to charge it from the wall or from a computer is nice (hey, don’t take it for granted: I have a camera which doesn’t and it’s a PITA - my next camera will be a phone damnit). Kindles have the largest list of file compatibilities.
In any case, looks like so far the votes are between a kindle, a different kindle or another kind of kindle.
I have a Kindle Touch and love it. The touch-screen is nice for highlighting, looking up definitions, etc. Wouldn’t ever go back to a Kindle Keyboard. The Kindle DX, which I also tried before, was too big. And the Kindle Fire is a crappy e-reader and a crappier tablet. The Kindle Touch also has better synchronization and highlighting than the Nook Simple Touch.
The Special Offers version saves you money with non-intrusive ads. 3G is nice to have.
Another vote for Kindle Touch. I have the 3G so I don’t have to mess around with transfers. There’s an experimental browser that allows me to download free ebooks directly from Project Gutenberg. I absolutely love the e-ink because it looks like a real page and doesn’t strain the eyes. The battery life is about 4 weeks. It takes a while to charge via computer (4-6 hours). I’m considering getting a wall charger.
I beg to differ; I think the Fire is an excellent eBook reader, better than the e-Ink Kindles.
I wasn’t prepared to like it. I’ve had a Kindle from the very first generation, and when the Fire came out, I ordered both it and a Touch, because I wanted to check them both out. I was 90% certain I’d keep the Touch and send the Fire back. It worked out the opposite.
I use it 95% for a reader. Occasionally, I’ll check email or a web page, but overall, it’s a reader for me. I like it for the following reasons:
Page turns are WAY faster than the e-Ink Kindles. If you want to go back 5 pages and double check something, this takes FOREVER on an e-Ink Kindle. So much so that I just never did it. Not so on the Fire.
I like the lookups on the Fire. If I need to find the definition of a word, I just highlight it, and there it is. You can do this on older Kindles, but, like page turns, it’s so slow that I never wanted to do it. In addition, you can look things up on the web. Wondering where exactly Croatia is located? It’s about 2 key presses away to get to a Wiki page, and the same amount back to your book. I love this feature.
I don’t have any more problems with accidental page turns than with my previous e-Ink Kindle, and if I do, it’s WAY faster to get back to where I was.
I can see the covers of the books on my Fire. For whatever reason, this is important to me; I remember a book by its cover, and the lack of a cover on the e-Ink Kindles always bugged me.
It costs more than most of the other Kindles
The display isn’t as easy to read in bright light as the e-Ink Kindles, and is totally unreadable in outdoor light. I kept my old Kindle for sitting-on-the-deck reading for this reason.
The battery life is nowhere near as long as the e-Ink Kindles. If it’s just sitting there without being used, the battery lasts a long time, but I think they advertise 7 hours of active reading, and it goes down from there if you’re using wi-fi.
So that’s my 2 cents. As I said, I was totally prepared for it to be a bad reader, and it’s absolutely not. I’d really be bummed to go back to an e-Ink after having a Fire for several months.
I was expecting both of those to be true, and haven’t found them to be. In fact, I’m of an age (42) where I can no longer read in low light like I used to, and I find the Fire’s backlit screen makes it easier to read in those conditions than e-Ink or traditional books.
If you’re wanting it purely for a reader, I’d go with one of the e-ink models. I have a Fire, and I read on it a lot. It’s fine as a reader, but it’s honestly no better a reader than our basic Kindle with the keyboard, at least for the sort of reading I do (straight through, almost never look up anything or flip back to recheck stuff.) And it loses out to the e-ink models in three of your criteria–weight, battery life, and cost. It feels to me like my Fire weighs maybe 3 times as much as our regular Kindle, I charge it every couple days instead of once a month or so, and it costs $200 instead of $80.
Kindle Keyboard 3G or Kindle Touch 3G, depending on whether you want a physical keyboard or not.
As a Kindle Keyboard 3G owner, if I were to pick one today it’d be the Kindle Touch 3G. The physical keyboard is kind of a pain, but I don’t use it enough to justify buying a new Kindle.
I highly recommend the 3G, because while it costs a little more upfront, you get the worldwide wireless connection for the life of the unit. I have downloaded books from my Amazon storage all over the Caribbean and even once in the middle of the ocean using a cruise ship’s 3G connection for free. You can’t do that with the WiFi only model.
I own a Kindle Fire as well, and it’s a nice little tablet and it does everything I need a tablet to do, but I greatly prefer reading from the Kindle Keyboard for long stretches. I read from the Fire only at night, in bed, so I don’t have to turn the room light on. I do use it for Netflix and other Internet-required sorts of things.
My Kindle Keyboard weighs half a pound, and lasts a week or two even if I leave the wireless on. It also holds 3500 books, not that I leave them on there – I leave them in Amazon’s storage cause I have the 3G model so I can just download them wherever I am. And the screen honest-to-God looks just like paper. It’s really quite a thing.
Not to nitpick, but I’mma gonna nitpick. I will say that I have not tried the Kindle Fire/Touch.
If by “FOREVER” you mean super instantaneous, then yes. It’s slower than immediate. However, for each click I do on my Kindle it goes back or forward one page without hesitation.
There are definitions on the e-ink without wifi needed on most words (I’ve found a couple where it was stumped). The wiki on the Fire sounds like a nice bonus though.
I can’t say I’ve ever had a problem with accidental page turns.
The covers are on the e-ink. Usually Kindle will skip them when you first open the book. However, if you either click back a couple pages, it will take you to the cover of the book instead of starting at page 1. You can also access them from the menu.
One major negative is the search though. I’ve got 461 books on my Kindle right now and it’s a pain if I want to read one. The search moves slowly; in some cases it takes about 5 minutes.
The other part with an e-ink is that you really want to get the Amazon bookcover with the built-in light for reading when you need light.
The e-ink has a built-in browser that can be used in extreme needed conditions. I used it when I was in Istanbul to connect to the hotel’s wifi as I forgot my laptop at home. This was definitely an exercise in patience to log in, then attempt to use a really goofy and tedious interface. I was able to send off a couple emails and update facebook. But it took much longer than it should have. Not recommended.
Also, all books can be drag and dropped when plugged into your computer. So if you have files you want to read on your Kindle, it’s really simple.
I haven’t tried the keyboard-less Kindles, I use my keyboard for searching through the books and for occasionally playing some games on it. I’m not sure if they still sell the Kindle Keyboard that’s wi-fi only (they only have it used on their website).
I use Calibre for organizing my library. It’s an awesome free software and will convert items to make them Kindle compatible or friendly. Note: pdfs can be major space hogs.
Frankly, if you just want something to read on, I’d get an e-ink Kindle. The battery life will suit you better.
I have a Kindle Touch. Mine is Wifi only - I’m at home every night so that suits me fine – for frequent flyers I’m sure 3G is a nice touch. (heh. touch.) I’ve never plugged mine into a computer so I can’t say how that works. You can send books directly from the amazon.com website, and alternatively you can buy books from amazon.com from the Marketplace function on the Kindle. Other docs can be dropped into the special email address. It can read text-only pdfs fairly well and for more complicated ones, there a a free conversion drop box (email the pdf to your special email address with the word “convert” in the subject).
Battery life on the e-ink versions is incredible. 3+ weeks between charges.
For book reading, it’s ideal. I spoke with a colleague of mine who has the Kindle Keyboard and he said the little touchpad navigation is ridiculous and if he had the choice today he would get the Touch.
Oh - and “Special offers” – get it. Not only does it make the device cheaper, but the only place it displays is in “sleep” mode and a tiny banner on the splash page. And sometimes you get book deals that are only available to special offers participants. So much so that some peiople sign up for Special offers AFTER paying the higher price for ad-free.
ETA: compared to the comparable Nook I thought the Kindle was just a little bit better designed and easier to hold. In terms of functionality I’m not up on the exact differences.
I’ve owned my Kindle DX for going on 3 years now, and still love it. Yeah, it’s kind of big, but the large screen was what sold it for me.
The e-ink display can’t be beat, in my opinion. There is absolutely no way I’d be able to read on my iPad as long as I can on my Kindle. As others have stated, reading on the Kindle is like reading a physical book; there is no eyestrain whatsoever.
I am still impressed with the free 3G connection. I can purchase books at any time, anywhere, without having to worry about paying yet another bill for connectivity. I’ve even used my Kindle for email and browsing in a pinch. Yes, it’s cumbersome, but it works, and it’s free.
ETA: I forgot to mention the battery life, which is amazing. I can go for weeks without having to recharge, and I read a lot.
I bought a Kindle Touch a couple of months ago and I love it. I’ve read more in the last two months than I read all last year. I already had a tablet but I didn’t like using it for reading over a long period. I see some in this thread don’t mind a back lit screen but for me the e-Ink is a way better choice.
I’m rarely far away from a WiFi connection, so 3G wasn’t important to me. I can see how it might be nice to have at times, but I have enough books waiting to be read that I’m unlikely to need to buy one in the middle of a camping trip or something.
Buy the model with Special Offers. They’re not annoying (I was worried about this before I bought my Kindle) and sometimes there are really good deals. If you find you hate the ads you can always pay to get rid of them later.