I bought the Kindle 2 (3g access) in 2009 when it came out. It costed as much as a tablet these days (i believe I paid around $300). It had no touch screen, but E-ink screen was amazing. I loved the fact that I could load more books and read it like a paper book. Another feature I really loved was the ability to have Kindle read the books using Text-To-Speech. Using TTS I could listen to pretty much any book I loaded into Kindle. It did a decent job of converting the text to voice, no complaints. It was very convenient especially when you were driving. That generation of Kindle had its own set of issues such as navigating the text with the click-wheel and button based menu interface, not very convenient if you had to take notes. I’ve the habit of highlighting and taking notes on any book I read, one reason I don’t really like to sell the books once I’m done with. I always go back and re-read the highlights in the books I just finished. With Kindle 2, taking notes and marking highlights was a lot of pain than necessary.
Then iPad happened, and I started using Kindle App more than Kindle 2 device. iPad is much more convenient to highlight and take notes using its wonderful touch screen. Over a period, I forgot about the Kindle 2 all together, it was sleeping in the drawer. Once in a while I would take it out, charge it and use it to read few pages. I never really bothered to turn on text to speech.
Last week, I realized my son (12 yrs old) was spending too much time on his mini-iPad, supposedly doing his “homework” (reading assignments). I was wondering about a way to restrict his access to games, videos and browsing. It hit me that I could buy him the new kindle with touch screen and wifi. He won’t be able to play games or watch videos but can read, use dictionary and take notes to his heart’s content. Amazon selling Kindle for $59 dollar’s doesn’t hurt either, great price for such a nice device. So I went ahead and bought two Kindles, a Paperwhite ($119) and Kindle Basic($59), former for me and later for my son.
The device seems to have transformed his reading habits. It has a feature called “FreeTime” using which a parent can control and reward kid’s reading habits. He loves the fact that his Kindle has a touch screen and he can look up words in the dictionary. I also love the fact that my Paperwhite has touch screen and built-in front light, which makes it easier to read in any kind of lighting.
However one of the feature I really liked, Text-To-Speech is completely missing from this new generation of Kindle, doesn’t have headphone jack either. A bummer, but I think I can live with that. In general, the Kindles are fine devices if you are primarily interested in uninterrupted reading pleasure, they are meant to be used as such. Now I prefer reading books in Kindle Paperwhite with its touch screen interface rather than using iPad with its harsh back-lighted screen.