Amazon announced four new products to its Kindle line Wednesday including the multi-touch capable Kindle Touch. With a special E Ink display, the Kindle Touch stays true to the screen and look that gave the Kindle line broad appeal as a mobile device that can be used outdoors as well as in. Adding multi-touch and eliminating the physical QWERTY keyboard allows the Kindle Touch to be 11% smaller, 8% lighter, and still maintain the 6″ E Ink display that can be read during even the brightest days.
Unlike the Kindle Fire announced Wednesday, the Kindle Touch doesn’t feature a color screen or the ability to play video content. Where it does shine is in battery life, featuring up to two months of battery life with wireless features turned off, accounting for a half-hour of reading per day. This battery life is made possible by E Ink technology, which uses a very small amount of energy to maintain a static image on the screen. Each time the page is turned, the image refreshes once. Essentially, the same usage that would drain a battery in hours can be extended to last weeks and even months under optimal conditions. The battery on the Kindle Touch can be charged in four hours using the included wall adapter. USB charging is supported.
The Kindle Touch features 4 GB of internal storage (3 GB accessible to the user), which is enough to hold 3,000 small eBooks. Cloud storage of purchased content is included with purchase, allowing the user to download and access their purchases from virtually any desktop, tablet, smartphone, or Kindle device.
The Kindle Touch also features text-to-speech, which is available on many purchases. This allows you to have the Kindle read a book to you while you’re focusing on something else, following along with page turns and keeping your place synced using Whispernet. One downside to this feature is that the voice itself is computer generated, making some more difficult words sound incorrect. Inflection and other elements of storytelling are also lost on an electronic voice. This makes it a good help when you need to look away, but it isn’t a breakthrough feature on its own. Some publishing houses have also opted not to allow their content to be read via the text-to-speech engine, reserving audio versions of their content for licensed audiobooks.
The E Ink screen on the Kindle Touch is a 600 x 800 pixel display with 16-level greyscale supported. At 6.8″ x 4.7″ x 0.40″ and 7.5 ounces, the Kindle Touch is among the lightest of the Kindles presently available.
The Kindle Touch is expected to cost US$99 for Wi-Fi and US$149 for Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities. It is expected to ship out on November 21, 2011.