Amazon’s Kindle lineup has expanded: there are now four different models, with different features at different price points. That means deciding which one you want is more difficult than ever. Let’s look at what separates the four Kindles and how to work out which one is right for you.
The Kindle is Amazon’s barebones, entry level model. It has a 6 inch, 167ppi touch screen display, Wi-Fi, and…not much else. It’s $79.99 with “Special Offers”, Amazon’s transparent euphemism for home screen ads, and $99.99 without them—although you can pay the $20 at any time to remove them if you go with the cheaper model.
It’s still basically the same Kindle Amazon released five years ago, just with a slightly better screen and faster processor. It doesn’t have a lot of extra features, but for the price, it’s not a bad deal.
The Kindle Paperwhite was Amazon’s first premium Kindle model, and it’s stuck around in the middle of the lineup. For $119.99 (with special offers), you get a 6 inch, 300ppi side-lit touch screen display, Wi-Fi. Removing the Special Offers adds $20 to the price. You can also pay an extra $70 for a 3G version, if you want to download books on the go (no data plan required).
The sidelight is the stand out feature here. Four LEDs at the bottom of the display shine across the screen. A special plastic “Light Guide” makes sure everything is illuminated evenly. Unlike a backlit screen—such as the one on your laptop or smartphone—you can read a Paperwhite for hours without straining your eyes. It’s just like reading a book with a light over your shoulder.
While the Kindle Paperwhite costs $40 more than the regular Kindle, it’s well worth the extra money. It has a much nicer screen with sharper text and a sidelight. The Paperwhite is slightly bigger and heavier than the Kindle, but you don’t really notice the difference when you’re reading. If you’re considering spending $80 on a Kindle, you should almost definitely drop the extra $40 for the much better Paperwhite. The Kindle is a good ereader, but the Paperwhite is a great one.
The Kindle Voyage is a smaller, lighter Paperwhite with six LEDs in the sidelight and a pressure sensitive bezel. You can turn the page in an ebook by squeezing the bezel—a feature Amazon calls PagePress—rather than tapping the screen.
The Kindle Voyage starts at $199.99 and, like the Paperwhite, you can remove Special Offers for $20 and add 3G for $70.
The Kindle Voyage is a bit odd. It costs $80 more than the Paperwhite, and you get…not a lot, really. The sidelight is slightly more even, the PagePress buttons are slightly nicer than tapping the touch screen, and it’s slightly smaller and lighter. If you’ve got the extra cash burning a hole in your pocket…then maybe it’s the one for you? But for most people, the marginally better features aren’t worth the dramatically increased price.
The Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s luxury Kindle. It starts at $289.99 with Special Offers and goes up to $379.99 if you remove the ads and get 3G.
For the price, you get 10 LEDs in the sidelight and page turn buttons. The Oasis also comes in two parts: the smallest, lightest Kindle model and an included leather battery case. You can use the Kindle without the case, but the battery life is reduced dramatically.
The Kindle Oasis is undoubtedly the premium Kindle. Everything about it is better than the other Kindles. Even with the cover, it’s incredibly light. In the hand, it’s perfectly balanced. The page turn buttons are responsive and way nicer than tapping a touch screen. Yes, it’s price tag is ludicrous for an ereader, but Amazon has gone all out.
If you have the money and want the ultimate Kindle, it’s the one to buy. For everyone else, just get the Paperwhite.
To sum up, the Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best e-readers on the market, especially when you take price into account. The regular Kindle is good value but a little under featured. The Kindle Voyage is marginally better than the Paperwhite, but not $80 better. Finally, the Kindle Oasis is spectacular with a spectacularly high price tag.
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