Amazon announced four new members of their Kindle family on Wednesday. Among them is the Kindle Fire, a color-screen tablet device capable of playing video content and running popular Android apps including Angry Birds. A multi-touch capable Kindle was also announced, bringing touch to the E Ink platform and allowing users to browse their book library without needing to use a physical QWERTY keyboard or five-way controller to do it. Perhaps the most important announcement made by Amazon to frugal readers comes in the form of a smaller and cheaper Kindle that fits in your pocket.
At 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″, the new Kindle is the smallest of the entire line yet still featuring a full 6″ E Ink Pearl screen. Unlike the Kindle Fire, the new Kindle doesn’t feature a color screen, but it does have the same E Ink display that the Kindle line has been known for.
Battery life on the new Kindle hasn’t changed much. It still holds the promise of a month of battery life with wireless turned off, and up to three weeks with it turned on. The battery charges from drained to full in three hours using the included AC adapter — and USB charging is also supported.
Unlike other versions of the Kindle, the US$79 entry-level device does not have a 3G option. You can still connect to Amazon using Whispernet over Wi-Fi to sync your purchases, bookmarks, and places across all of your Kindle devices.
With 2 GB of internal storage, the Kindle can hold up to 1,400 small eBooks at a single time. When compared to other versions of the Kindle that have 4 GB of internal storage capacity (3 GB available to the user), the new Kindle certainly falls short of its higher-priced counterparts.
Audio also appears to be absent from the new Kindle, leaving text-to-speech features off of this version.
With no multi-touch capabilities, text-to-speech, 3G wireless option, and a stripped-down internal storage capacity – the US$20 difference in price between the new Kindle and the Kindle Touch leaves much to be desired. Still, if you just need an ereader with the bare essentials, this is certainly the lowest-priced option currently on the market. The new Kindle is shipping now and is available on Amazon.