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A lot of people like e-ink readers, and the Touch is a really good one... but our reviewer wonders what is the "point in spending money on and lugging around a device the functionality of which is almost wholly duplicated on the phone and tablet that I already carry with me?" (Amazon)
A lot of people like e-ink readers, and the Touch is a really good one... but our reviewer wonders what is the "point in spending money on and lugging around a device the functionality of which is almost wholly duplicated on the phone and tablet that I already carry with me?" (Amazon)

Review

Kindle Touch reader comes close to erasing e-ink's limits Add to ...

Or using the Kindle app on your phone or tablet. I gave this option a go and it worked flawlessly. Plus, my reading progress was saved in the cloud, allowing me to jump to the page I’d been reading at the tap of a button upon switching devices.

I’ll admit that the case set before me by my demo Kindle Touch 3G was persuasive. It is without doubt a fine platform for reading digital books.

Yet it still failed to convince me that I need purchase one.

I just don’t see the point in spending money on and lugging around a device the functionality of which is almost wholly duplicated on the phone and tablet that I already carry with me.

I might be able to justify it if the cost was negligible, but the WiFi Kindle Touch sells in Canada for $139 while the 3G-enabled version is $189. (Amazon doesn’t seem to be offering its ad-supported editions – which knock about $40 off the price – north of the border.) Add in some essential extras – like a case with a light and an AC charger (the Kindle Touch ships only with a USB charging cable) – and it quickly becomes a significant investment in hardware.

Perhaps it simply comes down to the fact that I really don’t mind reading on traditional, backlit displays. The Kindle Touch’s screen is the best E ink display I’ve seen, with good contrast, almost no ghosting, and a relatively speedy refresh rate (it takes around a second to flip a page). Yet I find it pales in comparison to the screens on my phone and tablet, which offer crisper text, refresh about a million times more quickly, and, importantly, are much more practical in a variety of reading situations. The thought of reading one of the visually rich magazines I consume daily on a monochromatic E ink screen is a non-starter, and I remain irritated that e-readers require an external light source in dark areas (in bed, late at night on the couch), which is where I do most of my book reading.

Admittedly, my rationale is grounded largely in my own personal preferences and requirements. If reading long-form stories on an LCD gives you a headache, or you tend to do all of your reading in bright areas, or you don’t typically fill your bag or pockets with other devices capable of displaying digital books, then an e-reader may well be just what you need. And if that’s the case, I’ve little hesitation recommending Amazon’s Kindle Touch. It’s a marriage of common sense design and refined usability that’s a pleasure to hold and interact with, and very likely the best dedicated e-reader I’ve yet tinkered with.

It’s just not for me.

Amazon’s director of product management for Kindle, Jay Marine answered some of Chad’s questions about Amazon’s rock-star tablet, the Kindle Fire:

Q. Many Canadians want to know why the Kindle Fire is not in stores here. Is it simply that Amazon.ca doesn't serve up enough multimedia content north of the border to make such a launch feasible?

We’re heads down focused on offering customers a great experience. I’ll have to ask you to stay tuned.

Q. What's Kindle's biggest challenge in the Canadian market? Creating a catalogue of content equal to Kindle's American library? Going up against home-grown competition like Kobo?

We work hard every day to offer our Canadian customers not only the best purpose-built reading device, but also the largest selection of the most popular books they want to read. We offer over 1 million books in the Kindle Store for readers in Canada, plus there are millions of free, out of copyright books available to read on Kindle. We are also building a rich ecosystem of content with Kindle Singles, Kindle Direct Publishing – a self-service, easy-to-use platform for independent authors and publishers – and over 100,000 Kindle books that are exclusive to the Kindle Store.

Q. Lay out the future of e-ink devices. Will phones and multi-purpose tablets (like the Kindle Fire) eventually kill them off? Or will deep price cuts allow them to continue growing as a cheap alternative for avid readers?

We continue to see strong demand for our e-ink Kindles and believe there’s still plenty of room for innovation. Our customers continue to tell us they prefer e-ink for long-form reading. In fact, we know many customers own a Kindle or Kindle Touch in addition to a tablet.

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