Which is better for a light reader: Kindle or Kindle Touch?
April 12, 2012 4:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm a light reader who normally only ploughs through books when I'm on holiday. Which is better for my needs, a Kindle or Kindle Touch?

Although I generally read an (embarrassingly) small number of books I have recently thought about buying a Kindle on the basis that, when I'm on holiday, I can get through a fair number. These all take up precious space in my rucksack and so something like a Kindle would help reduce this.

The basic Kindle seems to make sense, it's small, cheap, light and battery goes on forever. However I don't know whether it's worth paying a bit extra and getting the Touch variant. I don't need non-reading features since my iPhone handles music, videos, internet and email just fine.

Does the Touch version give me something compelling more in terms of reading experience that I really must get it over the Kindle?

I plan to load onto the device general fiction and non-fiction books, some PDFs and maybe a few technical books or converted websites (using Calibre). I cannot think of any reason why I'd want to type on the thing (unless you can advise me otherwise) and I certainly do not want to add or share notes with people.

I'm not interested in the Kindle Keyboard or Fire, any Sony or Kobo product and I can't (and don't want to) buy the Nook in the UK.
posted by mr_silver to Shopping (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't own either, but I've used the regular Kindle. It's really annoying to have to use the buttons at the bottom to move around the page. It's not a problem when you are reading, but it's a pain when you are trying to, say, log into wifi.

In the US, it's only a $20 price difference, and I would definitely pay that for a touch screen.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:51 AM on April 12, 2012

It's just a personal style/design preference of whether you prefer the touch. It doesn't universally provide a more compelling reading experience, but some people like it more. Can you go to a store and play with both of them before making this decision?
posted by J. Wilson at 4:52 AM on April 12, 2012

I think the Kindle Touch doesn't really fix anything that was broken with the Kindle. Most of your time is spent reading and the side page fwd/back buttons on the Kindle are perfect for turning pages. The Kindle Touch offers no improvement in readability of the screen or e-ink.

So I think a fair answer to your question:
Does the Touch version give me something compelling more in terms of reading experience that I really must get it over the Kindle?

is: No.
posted by vacapinta at 5:08 AM on April 12, 2012

I assume you've tried the kindle reader on your phone and didn't like it? FWIW, my husband had a Kindle a couple of years back, and he rarely used it. He and I both tried it out. We both now read a lot on the iPhone. (He may prefer his iPad; I actually prefer the phone.) YMMV, of course, as I expect I'm the odd man out on this one. But hey: nothing extra to buy, pack in your rucksack, or carry with you when biking to a coffee shop for reading-on-someone-else's-sofa time.
posted by instamatic at 5:11 AM on April 12, 2012

If you would be happy to buy books on your computer and transfer them to your Kindle with wifi/USB, or buy books on your phone and transfer them with wifi, then the basic Kindle is probably sufficient. The touch screen makes it a LOT easier to browse in the Amazon store (even easier than the Kindle Keyboard, I think) but I don't know if that by itself is worth the extra $20.
posted by Jeanne at 5:14 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the Kindle Touch is actually similar in battery life to the Kindle? At least that's what I'm getting from the specs on the Amazon site.

I have a normal Kindle and the only times I find it the slightest bit annoying is when I have to type in something, but it's not very often I have to do that and it's not a big deal and otherwise I love it.

It's also a bit lighter than the Kindle Touch by about 40 grams. I have no idea what that really translates to but the lightness of my Kindle is also something I adore.
posted by like_neon at 5:15 AM on April 12, 2012

I actively dislike my Kindle Touch as compared to my original Kindle (to be clear, I love Kindle/e-ink/e-readers etc). It ain't an Apple product. The Touch screen is unreliable and remarkably picky about what constitutes a "touch" (my finger? no! the fringe of my scarf while I'm trying to read on a crowded subway? yes, apparently!). I strongly recommend any non-Touch Kindle instead.
posted by telegraph at 5:27 AM on April 12, 2012

Typing is good for searching in nonfiction (or if you want to find something in the dicitonary that comes with it, e.g., in a scrabble game), but could live without it.

I really like the physical buttons for turning pages, so would recommend those over the touch.
posted by ejaned8 at 5:34 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I only have the regular kindle. I was afraid the touch would lead to unwanted page turns (which telegraph mentions is the case). That happens on my iPad occasionally, but I also hold the iPad quite differently than the kindle when I'm reading. That said, I only read on my kindle, I never use the browser, and I don't take notes. If you're going to use the browser a lot, or take notes, the keyboard interface on the non Touch would be severely lacking.

Plus, I like having buttons on both sides. I can read with my left hand and still go to the next page (by clicking the next button on the left side of the kindle), but on the touch I imagine I'd need to touch the right side of the screen to advance.

If I could get a kindle with a touch screen that was used for everything but page turns, and used buttons for the actual page turns, I might be interested.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:37 AM on April 12, 2012

That's how I use my nook touch. Nice physical buttons with one-handed functionality PLUS the touch screen.
posted by selfnoise at 5:43 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a non-touch kindle and I like it a lot. When I'm using the Kindle iPhone app for whatever reason, having to touch the screen to move to the next page is kind of annoying, but with my kindle I can hold it close to the buttons and just click away as I read--it's very convenient especially because there are buttons on both sides. The initial set up where you need to type things and click around isn't awesome, but it's a brief moment in time. Highlighting things really isn't all that bad with the buttons, I guess it depends on what you're used to.

I do recommend getting a case that has a built in light (that plugs into your kindle for power). I find I use my Kindle much more when reading in low light isn't an issue.
posted by Kimberly at 5:50 AM on April 12, 2012

Shoot, I apologize OP, I missed your smalltext.
posted by selfnoise at 6:01 AM on April 12, 2012

I have a Touch, and I love it.

Accidental page turns don't bug me, but I do have to remember to turn the screen off when I close the case cover or otherwise put it away, because pressure on the screen (from other crap in my bag or whatever) will turn pages.

If you're reading a lot of pdfs, and/or if they've got illustrations - well, I'm unimpressed with the Touch's handling of those. The new software update (5.1) does allow for landscape mode, but you still can't embiggen the text, and that's a drag.

(I also have the app for my phone, and I haaaaate it. Can't change the justification or the margins? Boo.)
posted by rtha at 6:01 AM on April 12, 2012

I use a Kobo Touch after having used a regular old Kobo for years, so YMMV, but I really miss physical buttons. Last night, my cat managed to changed the chapter by lashing her tail about. You can't just stick the thing under your arm when you run into someone you know (or down the side of you leg when the steward comes by pre-takeoff)-- you've got to put it to sleep. Sometimes, as it gets older, it's hard to tell if the touch has registered so you touch twice and then skip a page.

I say save the $20 for books and get the regular, since it sounds like you don't plan to do a lot of typing on the thing.
posted by AmandaA at 6:23 AM on April 12, 2012

I have the Touch, and I like it a lot. If you read anything with footnotes or cross references (e.g. travel guides), it's easier than the Kindle. And much easier for browsing the Kindle store. But accidental "touching" is an issue.
posted by mskyle at 6:33 AM on April 12, 2012

Before I got my kindle for Christmas I was torn on kindle/kindle touch. What helped me decide was watching video review of both (on youtube). I decided for the regular kindle because I didn't want the accidental page turns and I couldn't be happier. I read mostly library books and those are transferred via wifi but I do have amazon prime so once a month I do go through the kindle store (on the kindle) to pick a free book. While the keyboard is slightly annoying, I use it so infrequently, it is barely an issue.
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 6:44 AM on April 12, 2012

I *love* the Touch. I have never owned the regular Kindle, but I've used a co-worker's and the non-touch screen navigation was beyond annoying for someone used to the iPhone/iPad. So funny how quickly we get used to and dependent on things like that. I generally read on the subway and have not had a problem with errant page turns. It's also very light - I have no idea if 40 grams would make any noticeable difference, but I can hold a cup of coffee in the same hand with no problem.
posted by valeries at 6:52 AM on April 12, 2012

I got a baseline Kindle for Christmas and like it a lot. I spent a good deal of time deciding between it and the Touch. This review helped me make up my mind and I got the non-Touch version, though I understand a subsequent software update made the Touch faster.

I find I actually do like the physical buttons. You can keep your find on them while holding the device and turn pages when you need to versus having to move your finger on and off the screen for every flip. Moving around the page to click on footnotes with the little D-pad isn't as bad as you might think. On the annoying-ness scale I'd rate the slow refresh of the e-ink screen higher, and that's the same on the Touch and vanilla.

I also figured that I should get the cheapest version possible in case I decide to bail out of ebooks and go back to print. (I do like my bookshelves.) Plus I figured once I started loading up on options I'd be approaching the price of an iPad and I really do just want a Kindle because all it does is read books and doesn't distract me with other stuff.

I couldn't decide if I'd want 3G or not, which isn't an option on the regular Kindle. I haven't yet had a time I've found I'd want it. If you're not going to be jumping between different devices you don't need 3G for syncing your page progress. You won't be able to download books on the go without 3G, but it's never too hard to find a coffee shop with wifi if you need it (unless your vacations are far aflung). Also adding 3G means going up to the Touch and up again to the 3G model which doubles the price of the device.
posted by davextreme at 6:55 AM on April 12, 2012

I have the Kindle Keyboard (regular Kindle) so i'm a bit biased because there was no Touch when I got this one -- so no option for it and no reason to upgrade a year later -- but I prefer the physical buttons as it feels more natural to my fingers than swiping.
posted by sm1tten at 7:30 AM on April 12, 2012

I have a Touch, which I love, but I doubt it has significant advantages for the infrequent user. I would find it really annoying to navigate all the menus and keyboard with just the buttons, but I don't do it all that often as it is, and I use my Kindle every day.

The most compelling feature for me is Whispersync, which is awesome, since I can then read books on my phone when I'm standing in line at the store or somewhere else where I have a few minutes handy but don't have my Kindle. I think this is a tremendous convenience, but davextreme is all over this: it steps the price of your device way up, which probably isn't a big deal for occasional use.

I really cannot overstate how much I love the syncing between my phone and the Kindle. But that is really the only reason I can think of to have a Touch (with 3G) instead of the base model. If you have no interest in the syncing or wouldn't use it often enough to justify the substantial price increase, I think you'll be fine with the base model.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2012

Head into a Barnes and Nobles and give their touch screen a try, while it works a bit faster/smoother than the kindles IMO it will give you an idea if you like the whole touch thing. I prefer the whole touch interface as I find it way more intuitive.

I love my touch Nook and it and the Kindle touch are so much the same from what I've seen it will give you a good idea if you'd like the Kindle touch. I think some Best Buy stores have Kindles that you can get your hands on and play around with, though the one near me hasn't had them out recently.
posted by wwax at 7:41 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

One word of caution: Ive dropped my kindle keyboard from about 4-6 feet (in its leather case) and it was fine. However, I've lost two to A, stepping lightly on it, and B, leaving it on the couch and having it sat on. I suspect, sorta like a window, if you hit it head on, it usually does fine. However, twisting it can be bad. Just a caution if youre using words like 'rucksack' which makes me worry about how gentle your travel will be :)
posted by Jacen at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2012

This page has a comparison of the two, and it says that the Kindle Touch has twice the battery life and twice the storage of the regular Kindle.
posted by amarynth at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2012

Go for the Touch. Battery life and storage are the name of the game when traveling. If you didn't start with a regular Kindle, you'll never miss the button controls.
posted by bearwife at 9:39 AM on April 12, 2012

I don't have the touch and I can sync between my iPhone and my Kindle. I just need to be on wifi to do it. I just make sure to sync my Kindle whenever I get home and have no issues.
posted by Kimberly at 10:47 AM on April 12, 2012

I have a Nook Touch and it has physical buttons too. I hardly ever use the touch screen to advance pages because I hold it left handed. I like the touchscreen a lot for navigating the device but not for flipping pages.
posted by fshgrl at 11:28 AM on April 12, 2012

The longer battery life on the touch outweighed the annoyance of unintended page turns for me. The only really annoying one is if instead of tapping you swipe up or down, it advances a chapter instead of a page, which can require quite a number of page flips to get back to the right place. I haven't figured out a way to disable this but I haven't looked too hard, it's only happened a handful of times.
posted by spatula at 12:39 PM on April 12, 2012

I like being able to touch regular Kindle where I'm at on a page whenever there's an interruption or distraction and not have to worry about turning a page. I read on the iPad Kindle app before I got my regular Kindle and when I did I had accidental page turning all over the place.

Also, as you can see in this review, the Touch is ever so slightly bigger. "It's not large or heavy by any means, but after spending a few weeks with the smaller version, the difference is noticeable."

The regular Kindle actually can fit in a coat pocket, or in a crunch, my pants pocket. It's wonderfully small.
posted by yeti at 3:23 PM on April 12, 2012

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