The Right Tool for the Job: The Kindle Touch

Kindle (n): A litter of kittens or rabbits.

On the day the iPad 3 was released, I decided to pick up a new mobile device of my own – Not an iPad, not an Android, but a Kindle, and not even a Kindle Fire. No, I haven’t shunned disruptive technology and become a Luddite. I got a device already half a hear old, less expensive than some of it’s case covers, incapable of streaming video or playing Angry Birds, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

The Kindle Touch serves only one function, but it does so masterfully. It’s an e-reader, and reading is all that its good for along with a few supporting functions, trading flexibility for perfection. Rather than a bright screen, it uses E Ink on electronic paper, which reads like old fashioned print, is visible in direct sunlight, won’t wear out your eyes, and is great before bed. With WiFi you can connect to Amazon’s Kindle store to buy and download new books in moments or browse Kindle books in your library. Aside from an estimated 3000 book it can hold, the Kindle Touch can store and display PDFs which you can send to the device by email. No need to worry about losing your library either, as Amazon provides a free cloud backup.

The Touch is a 4th generation e-reader with many incremental improvements. It’s smaller and lighter, making it easy to carry in a jacket pocket and hold for extended reading sessions, while the 6 inch, 600 x 800 pixel, 16 shades of gray screen works great for multiple font sizes and sharp images. There’s also text-to-speech, audiobooks and mp3 support, but the most important new feature of the Touch is of course the the EasyReach touchscreen. The touchscreen was a must, both because, after adjusting to smartphones and tablets, I’ve found myself pawing at laptop and desktop monitors to zoom in and out and because it’s not a book if you can’t turn the pages. A few kinks with this feature are my only complaints, as highlighting text around the edges of the page tends to confuse the reader.

None of these features are groundbreaking, but the Kindle Touch isn’t meant to be revolutionary, it’s meant to be the most polished e-reader on the market, and it delivers. The first thing I did when my Kindle arrived was purchase a 750 page poetry anthology, the sort of heavy, leather-bound book that you keep in a room that smells of rich mahogany, for under $4 that I can now bring it with me anywhere. As somebody who moves and travels often, a 7.5 ounce library makes a lot of sense.

Now, I could have had most of these features and more with an iPad 3, or, if I wanted something more portable, a new 7 inch Android tablet. But the latest and greatest in tech isn’t always the right solution, and my Kindle is better for reading text, the function I actually needed, at a lower price than the newer and slicker alternatives. My experience with the Kindle Touch is a good reminder that mission requirements, what’s necessary rather than what’s possible, should drive technology acquisition.

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Corey McCarren

I’m tempted beyond belief to buy an e-reader as I’ve just gotten back into reading books. I used my phone to read the Hunger Games because I knew I wasn’t going to find time to purchase the actual book and I wanted it that second; you can imagine how annoying it is reading off of a phone. The thing, though, is that I’d really like to be able to read in the dark without needing an external light. Maybe the Kindle Fire is the right choice for me?

Joe Flood

How is the page-turning experience? I tried it out at Best Buy but it seemed sort of slow and the flash between page turns was somewhat distracting.

Ilyne Miller

I love my Nook (Barnes and Noble) tablet…I had the 1st Nook and recently decided to upgrade. I didn’t think I would like the backlight, thought it would be too hard on my eyes…however, that’s not the case. I really like being able to read in the dark without an external light (couldn’t do it with my 1st Nook). It’ll come in handy on night flights….I always hate being the one to have the overhead light on when everyone else is trying to sleep!