The Kindle Fire wasn’t the only new ereader Amazon showed off Wednesday. The company also announced a revamped lineup of e-ink Kindle devices, including the brand new Kindle Touch.
With the Kindle Touch, Amazon is addressing one of the most common complaints about the original Kindle — its navigation system. Touchscreen ereaders are already available from manufacturers like Sony, but Amazon’s approach is unique in its own right.
On stage, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos discussed the way that customers tend to use the Kindle today. After finding that users frequently use a Kindle by holding it in one hand, Amazon wanted to make sure that the Kindle Touch would be easy to use without requiring the user to use another hand to turn the digital page. As a result, the Kindle Touch has a new feature called EasyReach — narrow tapzones, about the width of a thumb, that allow the user to quickly flip forward or backward through a book with one hand.
Kindle Touch has other new features too, including something called X-Ray. X-Ray lets users dive into the meta-data of a book to quickly get access to information about the locations, characters and situations in a book.
The screen on the Kindle Touch is crisp and clear, thanks to eink. It’s also a lot faster than previous Kindles. Watching the demonstrations, we were struck by the quick response time and fast page loading speed of the new device.
Still, the most notable new thing about the Kindle Touch might just be its price. Starting at $99 for the Wi-Fi only Special Offers version (a Kindle Touch 3G will be available for $149 with Special Offers), the Kindle Touch finally pushes the device under that magic $100 price point. Amazon is actually also selling a $79 non-touchscreen Kindle as well, but we think most users are going to wind up going for the Kindle Touch or Kindle Touch 3G.
Personally, I don’t have an actual need for a Kindle — I have an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4. At $99, however, I can see myself picking one up for subway and beach reading. I love EasyReach. I think it perfectly captures how consumers use an ereader.
The Kindle Fire might be getting all of the buzz today, but the Kindle Touch is still worth keeping an eye on. The $99 price point truly does make the Kindle affordable to almost everyone. For users who already have an iPad or just want a high quality, inexpensive ereader, the Kindle Touch delivers.