Kindle Touch Lightning Review: The Only Book Gadget You NeedS

We've more or less accepted e-readers as the best way to read a book digitally, but there's still a whole lot that gadgets can do that e-readers suck at—literally anything you own with a screen is better at this stuff than an e-reader. The Kindle Touch is the first to really bridge that gap in a way that makes sense.

What Is It?

An ebook reader with an IR touch screen that lets you read, buy, search, and skim books.

Who's it For?

Anyone who wants to do more with their e-reader than just read words on a non-backlit screen.

Design

It's a lot like the already-released non-touch Kindle—just a little taller, a little wider, a little thicker, and a lot heavier.

Using It

Tap (or swipe) to turn the page. Thanks to an oversized touch target for moving foraward, you can basically read one-handed with either hand. But touch does more than turn pages: press on a word to add a note, highlight it, or look it up in the dictionary. And don't worry too much about charging it: It's got the same two-month battery life (with all its wireless settings off) that you expect from an e-reader at this point.

The Best Part

How easy it is to do anything that has to do with a book: shopping, borrowing, research, reference, skimming, note taking. You don't have to supplement the Kindle Touch for anything book-related.

Tragic Flaw

The design isn't what you'd call hand-friendly—especially when compared to the Nook Simple Touch, with its large bezel and indented back panel.

This Is Weird...

There's some inconsistency with how you interact with the interface. Turning pages is mostly done by tapping. You can swipe, but it's not necessary, and if you happen to swipe at a vertical enough angle, you'll shoot off to another chapter and have to page your way back. But in the menu, store, and browser, you swipe to navigate.

Test Notes

• The text shadowing and degradation that affects the Nook Simple Touch and non-touch Kindle is still an issue, but you now have an option to "flash" on every page turn. This will slow down page turning, but ensure that you've got the prettiest screen possible at all times.
• There's a bit of lag to using the IR touchscreen, which is to be expected, but it defeats the point of the no-flash paging.
• Rapid page turning is surprisingly quick, though.

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Should You Buy It?

Yes, if you're going to buy an ebook reader, it should probably be the Kindle Touch. You can make a case for the non-touch Kindle if pure portability is all your care about, and the same goes for the Nook Simple Touch with hand comfort. But the Kindle Touch feels more complete than either of those. Like, you can just buy one and say, "Okay, I'm good on books." That's worth something.

Kindle Touch Specs

Price: $99 for Special Offers Wi-Fi only; $139 Wi-Fi only without Special Offers; $149 3G with Special Offers; $189 3G without Special Offers

Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

Wi-Fi Only:
Size: 6.5" x 4.5" x 0.34"
Weight: 5.98 ounces
Storage: 4GB

3G:
Size: 6.8" x 4.7" x 0.40"
Weight: 7.5 ounces
Storage: 4 GB
Network: HSDPA/EDGE/GPRS on AT&T


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