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12/12/2011
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Kindle Touch Snazzier Than Old Kindles, But Slower

The new mainstream e-reader from Amazon.com has the same great display and a more modern interface, but is disturbingly slow at times.

Kindle Touch

Though the Kindle Fire has gotten most of the publicity, Amazon released another new Kindle on the same day as the Fire. The Kindle Touch is a new generation of the more familiar Kindle models, one which adds a touch screen.

The old non-touch screen Kindle is still around and now called the Kindle Keyboard. The Wi-fi-only Kindle Touch sells for $99 and there is a 3G version for $149. Oddly, both the Wi-fi-only and 3G versions of the Kindle Keyboard sell for $139. It would appear that Amazon wants customers to buy the Touch.

I've had a Kindle Keyboard for some time and I love it. No question, using the keyboard is awkward, but it's a fairly rare thing. On the new Kindle Touch, the screen has three touch regions: Touch near the top and it brings up the menu; touch near the left and it moves back a page; touch most of the screen not near the top or left and it moves one page forward. Alternatively you can swipe left or right.

Kindle Touch Zones

Being able to swipe pages left and right rather than use the Kindle Keyboard's hard buttons on each side doesn't make a big impression on me. But I can believe that many users expect touch screens these days and think of the hard buttons on the Kindle Keyboard as antique.

What did make an impression on me with the Touch is how slow it is. As with the Kindle Fire, the touch screen can be maddeningly unresponsive, but the Touch is worse. There were very clear pauses between touch and response. On the plus side the Touch has the same non-color e-ink screen as the old Kindle and it's still a joy to read (unless it's dark in the room). It's also a bit smaller and lighter than the Kindle Keyboard.


Let's go to the videotape!
Click here to see the out of box experience videos for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch.

I won't be buying a new Kindle Touch to replace my old-style Kindle Keyboard any time soon. If I were buying a new one, the price difference might make me buy the Touch, but I hope Amazon improves the performance soon.

Amazon.com Kindle Touch
Price: $99 (Wi-fi only); $149 (W-ifi + 3G)
Summary:This touch-screen version of Amazon's popular e-book reader lets you turn pages by swiping, but is slower than its predecessor.
Pro: Inexpensive; e-ink display is a pleasure to read, as long as there is light in the room; zillions of books and other content available; a bit smaller and lighter than the previous generation of Kindle.
Con: Maddeningly slow; not a full tablet, just a reader (although that's what it's designed to be).

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