Kindle Touch 3G eReader Review

Design - Weight and Dimensions

Dimensions: 6.8 in x 4.7 in x 0.40 in
Weight: 7.8 ounces
Color: Available in silver

The Kindle Touch 3G is perhaps the most compact, and most beautiful, of the monochrome Kindle devices to come from Amazon since the franchise was established several years ago. It's extremely thin -- less than half an inch thick -- and the exclusion of a physical keyboard means it's actually shorter and more compact than its predecessors. At just 7.8 ounces in weight, the Kindle Touch 3G is extremely light to hold and doesn't really weigh anymore than a good -- and long -- book.

Display - Resolution and Reflectiveness

Display Type: 6 inch monochrome eInk display
Resolution: 800 x 600
Color Depth: 16-bit monochrome with 16 levels of gray

Until its latest round of Kindle releases, Amazon was famous for eschewing the color eReader display and sticking with eInk only. The Kindle Touch keeps the eInk display but steps it up a notch in the grayscale department: whereas its predecessor, the Kindle 3, only had 4 gray levels, it ships with support for 16. That's especially important when displaying images on the device's eInk screen, and it also means that text is now easier to read. With 16 gray levels, text can more easy blend into its light-gray background color and look less pixelated. It's certainly more pleasing to the eye and veteran eReader owners will appreciate the noticeable improvement in text display quality as well as image display quality.

The 800 x 600 resolution is unchanged from prior models, but offers a reliably great viewing experience. And, as with all eInk displays, the surface is not glossy, nor is it illuminated with any sort of backlight.

User-friendliness and Interface - Touchscreen vs Keyboard

Until its most recent round of Kindle updates, Amazon had always included a standard QWERTY keyboard with all of its eReader models. Perhaps giving into competitive pressure by Barnes & Noble, which has long ditched the physical keyboard, and Apple, whose iPad includes an iBooks marketplace, Amazon decided it was time for a change. To that end, the Kindle Touch is so named because it has no physical keyboard and relies entirely on the user's touch input in order to function. That means the keyboard is on-screen, and books must be selected by the touch of a finger rather than the use of the traditional four-way navigation key.

New eReader users who are unfamiliar with on-screen input may find this challenging, though Amazon has done everything in their power to make sure that it's as intuitive as can be. Veterans of touch screen devices will feel mostly at home, although the touch input on Amazon's Kindle Touch Screen is a bit more basic than the advanced, gesture-driven controls flaunted by the iPad and competing Android tablets. Overall, it's not difficult to use at all -- it's just a different way of using an eReader device that will take a little adaptation and practice.

Memory - Internal and External Storage

Flash Memory: 4GB built-in (about 3,000 books)
Flash Cards: Removable flash media is not supported

Amazon has been developing its cloud-based S3 storage system for quite a few years, though the service never managed to find its way into the company's eReader devices. Until now, that is. The Kindle Touch ships with a very modest -- and some would say underwhelming -- 4 gigabytes of on-board, internal storage. Of that, about 3 gigabytes can actually be used to store books. The company estimates that about 1,000 books can be stored per gigabyte, giving users the capacity to store 3,000 books on the stock Kindle Touch without any removable storage being required.

If there's someone out there who owns 3,001 books, they'll be comforted by the fact that the Kindle Touch comes with a constant connection to Amazon's S3 cloud storage solution, and that storage is unlimited for every Kindle owner. They can store essentially anything in this space, whether it be books, images, or simple text files.

Formats - Doc, PDF, ePub and Third-party DRMs

Supported Text Formats: AZW, TXT, PDF, AAX, AA, MOBI, PRC
Supported Image Formats: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP

Amazon has always supported a broad array of formats, and their latest Kindle is no exception to this rule. Not only do they support the proprietary Kindle format (of course), but the Kindle ships with support for basic TXT files, Adobe PDF documents, MOBI files, PRC files, and even audiobooks in the AA or AAX formats. For those viewing images on the Kindle, all of the major image formats are supported through the device's image viewer.

Web-browsing and Applications

The Kindle Touch ships with its own web browser, known as Pearl, which can be used only in WiFi mode and not while connected to 3G data services. It ships with the standard image view and music player / audiobook player that all previous models have come equipped with.

Battery-Life

A single charge can last up to three weeks, though this will diminish with heavy web browsing or download of Kindle books.

Pricing

The advertising-supported Kindle Touch 3G is available for $149, while an ad-free version comes in at $189.

Additional Features and Accessories

The Kindle Touch 3G is one of the few Kindle devices that can connect to 3G wireless data networks in order to download books from the Kindle store. This service is free to all users and is a boon to mobile reading.

The Bottom Line

The Kindle Touch 3G is a premium monochrome eReader that is leaps and bounds ahead of similar models. Its connectivity with 3G wireless data networks, combined with its broad file format support and superior display, makes it a must-have eReader for those with deeper pockets and more intensive reading habits.

Buy it here