The devices' lower price points represent an aggressive push by Amazon to boost its lead in the e-book space as competitors like Barnes & Noble's Nook, currently $99 for the latest touch-screen version and a CNET Editors' Choice, pose a growing threat.
All three new non-Fire Kindles offer the same 6-inch e-ink Perl screen found on the previous-generation Kindle. According to our hands-on review of the $79 Kindle: "In other words, the text on the screen looks exactly like it did on the previous model, which is to say: it looks good, but don't expect any improvements in contrast or sharpness."
The biggest difference between old and new is that all three 2011 e-ink Kindles ditch the physical keyboard (although the company is calling the older, still-available versions "Kindle Keyboard"). They all also have built-in Wi-Fi to download books and deploy other Internet-dependent functions when in range of a hot spot.
Amazon also addressed one glaring shortcoming compared with other e-readers when it enabled the ability to download and read e-books for free through participating local libraries and public schools. Unlike the Nook or Sony Reader, the Kindle still does not support the EPUB format, but nonetheless more than 11,000 public libraries now allow Kindle borrowing via industry leader Overdrive. You can search the site to see whether your local library or school is onboard.… Read more