First-world Kindle angst...
October 8, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Talk about first world problems... Which Kindle do I buy?

Kindle Touch or Kindle Keyboard? From the comparison on Amazon, they are virtually identical except for the text-entry aspect. In general, how much typing is involved with reasonably frequent Kindle use?

This will be my first e-reader so I don't know how much text entry might be part of the Kindle experience. I know that I prefer real keys in the rest of my device life as my fingers are fairly stubby and most of the time touch-type interfaces annoy the hell out of me. But if the need to type in Kindleville is fairly low, I supposed I'd prefer the touch for simplicity's sake and a slightly overall smaller device size. These are pre-orders so I can't try them out yet. Thanks!
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Technology (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It looks like you have to touch the screen on the touch to change pages, so I'm sticking with my Kindle Keyboard.

If I had no Kindle, I'd probably go with the cheapest one - it looks like it still has nav buttons.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:31 AM on October 8, 2011

It really depends on how much you write notes in the margin of a book. I don't, really, so I think I've used the keyboard on my kindle......3 or 4 times, in the course of several years of ownership. Most of those times to create categories to place books in (Science Fiction, History) for organizational purposes. Which are single words or short phrases, so the method of text input really doesn't matter.

If you're the type to annotate books a lot, which is somewhat useful as you can see those notes on the Kindle Apps for various devices, you'd probably get a lot more mileage out of a physical keyboard. I usually just underline passages I'm interested, and then come back to them using the Kindle PC App.
posted by zabuni at 9:37 AM on October 8, 2011

I have a older kindle and I hardly ever use the keyboard, only to search for books to buy when I'm out and about. Like b1tr0t said you might want to take into consideration how much you need to touch the screen and how dirty it may get.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:38 AM on October 8, 2011

I've got a Kindle Keyboard. I've had it for about a year.

Only time I've used the keyboard was to input my wifi's password and once to search for movies. I do all my book shopping via amazon's website from my PC.

Zabuni makes a really good point about annotation though. I don't annotate anything.
posted by royalsong at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do virtually no text entry on my kindle; I use it for pleasure reading. I play a few games but not scrabble or crosswords that would require letter entry. I don't typically need to take extensive notes and I can usually grab my phone or computer if I need jot something down quickly. (Or, heck, a paper and pen!) The minor annotating I do when reading for pleasure is just underlining or bracketing a passage that particularly strikes me, and I can do that fine with the Kindle highlighting function.

I do have a kindle with a keyboard, though, I just don't ever USE the keyboard. I can't really speak to the touch interface.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2011

(Whoops! As to not confuse anyone: my searching movies, I meant showtimes for local theaters on the built-in browser.)
posted by royalsong at 9:41 AM on October 8, 2011

The amount of key usage is probably small, and the physical keyboard on the Kindle sucks anyway. It is in a grid layout instead of the staggered layout one expects, so I find myself all the time hitting M when I meant N. The touch's touch-keyboard is staggered, so that might be better, although I haven't tried it.

Still, I'd rather change pages with a dedicated key.
posted by grouse at 9:42 AM on October 8, 2011

I use the keyboard on mine very infrequently (maybe two or three times a year?). I find the keyboard to be an annoyance for how rarely it's useful, and am excited about the touch. Although I do wonder about the screen-turning by touch, it's the only reason I haven't already preordered a Touch.
posted by Stacey at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2011

Also, one more difference between the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Keyboard, at least the 3g versions. The touch version will not allow you to use the web browser with the built in 3g. It will only go through wifi. Frankly, as a web browser the kindle sucks, but if you are a world traveler I could see it being useful in a pinch.
posted by zabuni at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2011

[Folks, question is "what Kindle to buy" can we maybe not turn this thread into a "what ereader to buy" discussion? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:17 AM on October 8, 2011

If you ever plan on reading anything with footnotes, touch is really nice to have. I read Infinite Jest on my Nook Touch. I can't imagine reading it on a keyboard Kindle.
posted by zjacreman at 10:29 AM on October 8, 2011

I use the keyboard somewhat frequently relative to most people answering here (to search within the book for earlier characters, situations, or plot elements), but I don't think that a virtual keyboard will be that much of a bother in those instances.
posted by taz at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2011

I use the keyboard on mine often enough that it's nice to have, but not so often that losing it would be a dealbreaker.

I've been reading Pratchett on mine, and footnotes aren't that bad, though I'm sure touch would be nicer.
posted by Akhu at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2011

I buy most of my books and magazines via my computer, so I rarely use the keyboard. The Kindle Touch would likely be your best bet, unless you take notes while reading like some people do.
posted by Telpethoron at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2011

I love my Kindle 3G (keyboard) and I rarely use the keyboard; web browsing is possible, but not great, and that's the only time I use my keyboard outside of some of the initial entry to personalize the Kindle.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:05 PM on October 8, 2011

I have never used the keyboard on my kindle except, like royalsong, to enter wi-fi passwords. Also, like zjacreman says, footnotes are a huge pain in the ass on the keyboard kindle, you have to press down like 20 times to get to your footnote, then go through a menu to get back where you were. It's a lame experience.

If I were buying a new kindle today, I would get the Kindle touch non-ad version. I won't replace my existing Kindle just for touch, though.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:33 PM on October 8, 2011

I have a Kindle keyboard. As far as I am concerned, it is the greatest device ever made. I do not make notes in the margins, but I do actually use the keyboard daily. I both search for books at Amazon and rate (and tweet!) books as I complete them. The keyboard is more than sufficient for those tasks. As others have pointed out, if the kind of reading you plan to do has an assload of footnotes, it's going to be a pain. (Luckily, I just read trash so this isn't an issue.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2011

I have a nook touch and love the whole touch aspect. I find the keyboard was wasted on me on the Kindle. If I need to search the built in keyboard is fine for me. Easier than the one on my smart phone that's for sure. I know the nook touch has page turning buttons located on either side so you can turn a page simply by giving the side you are holding a little squeeze in the right place to go back and forth. I can't imagine the Kindle touch would come in with less features than the Nook its going to compete with so unless you are wanting to write a lot of notes actually on the Kindle I can't see you'd have any problems.

On the short stubby fingers side of things, most touch devices hate me with a passion and for some reason don't read my fingers but I've never had a problem with the eBook readers with touch screens.

Also if you can wait until after release to order it you can most likely go into Best Buy or somewhere similar and actually hold one and try it out and see which one suits you best.
posted by wwax at 3:26 PM on October 8, 2011

I have a Kindle (got it for Christmas last year so whatever iteration that was). I agree with the many others that I don't use the keyboard that much. However I do use the 3G quite a bit. I don't have great access to Wifi, either at home, at work, or on the metro. Yes I could use my DSL and download things to my PC and from there to my kindle, but I like the freedom of being able to download directly to my kindle pretty much anywhere, so there's that.

I will agree that from a usability perspective, I would probably prefer a touch screen. It's just more intuitive for me as I've gotten used to the touch screen on my ipod touch. However, it's my understanding that touch screens use up the battery much more quickly. I can get a good 3 weeks, possibly more, out of my kindle 3G by keeping the 3G/Wifi off except when needed to download books and my weekly subscription to the New Yorker. It's my understanding from friends who have (and love) a Nook, that they pretty much have to charge it every night. It's not a big deal if you're used to it, but I like knowing that I can take my kindle for a two or three week trip and not having to worry about packing the charger. This may not be a factor at all for you, and it's not a deal breaker if you really want a touch screen, but it's another consideration that I hadn't seen mentioned.
posted by kaybdc at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2011

When I was reading the Song of Ice and Fire series I used the physical keyboard on my Kindle CONSTANTLY to search for names, places, whatever, that I couldn't remember in between the five 800-page books in the series.

That said, I've got a personal beef with touch-keyboards since they never seem to work with me, and because of the way the touch-screen is made for things like touch-ereaders, the ever so slight lag between letters would drive me nuts. I'd much rather just type it quickly and hit enter and know that every letter went through.

On the other hand, while I'm used to have to press a physical key to go down a page to select a word for searching or highlighting or whatever, being able to do that by (I'm assuming) just touching the word would be kind of awesome.

It really depends on your usage, in the end, which is what everyone else has said.
posted by adrianna aria at 5:56 PM on October 8, 2011

I am completely addicted to Scrabble on my Kindle, so that kinda makes having the keyboard a necessity. Also I find that the most useful and entertaining thing to use the crappy internet browser for is catching up on AskMeFi posts away from my computer. Posting an answer or comment is certainly easier with a physical keyboard.
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:26 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know you didn't mention it as an option, but I just bought the new Kindle without a keyboard and I'm finding it suprisingly usable. It's no worse than typing on a game console with a controller. I don't type a lot -- wifi passwords and the occasional seach. It would not be fun for writing notes, but I don't. (I never write in physical books either.)
posted by liet at 8:01 AM on October 9, 2011

I have a keyboard style which I bought in July. I use it for taking notes constantly.

It turns out I was never much of a note-taker until Kindle made it easy to do so! I don't think I would enjoy the touchscreen, personally if I was going to upgrade to the newer model, I would buy the keyboard one.
posted by ErikaB at 10:52 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I cannot imagine touching the screen of my Kindle 3G Keyboard intentionally. Smudges and fingerprints do not add to my reading experience. The semi-matte finish of the display is just about perfect for simulating ink on paper and anything that compromises that (touching it all the time) is a big negative.

I may pick up a basic model with offers to have for guests/friends to use but I love the keyboard model and I use the keyboard very rarely.

Disclaimer: I have not yet personally used the new Kindle Touch or the $79 basic model.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 1:48 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't own a Kindle, but you might be interested to know that for some models (as far as I can tell from Amazon's wording, only the most recent Kindles, ie, the Kindle Touch and the keyboardless Kindle, but NOT the keyboard kindle), you can "unsubscribe" from special offers by paying the difference between regular price and the subsidized price.

So for at least the Touch and entry-level keyboardless Kindle, you can buy the special offers version without fearing you'll be stuck with ads forever if you find them too annoying.
posted by jcreigh at 9:55 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

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