updated 10:30 am EDT, Wed September 28, 2011
Amazon Kindle Touch and 79 Kindle set records
Amazon in the same introduction as the Kindle Fire tablet also revealed its own direct answer to the current Nook. The Kindle Touch is based entirely on an infrared-based, six-inch touchscreen with a unique interface known as EasyReach. Tapping the top quarter of the screen brings up the menu, while tapping near the left edge goes back; tapping the rest of the page goes forward.
A new X-ray feature can also give an at-a-glance view of all the relevant content on a given page, chapter, or the entire book, such as names and places. Both the dictionary and Wikipedia entries for a book are pre-cached in X-ray so they don't have to be used online.
The Kindle Touch will be available for as little as $99 in a Wi-Fi only version and will have a $149 version with AT&T-supplied 3G.
A conventional, button-guided Kindle should also be available in a Wi-Fi only version for $79. The new version is 30 percent lighter than the outgoing model even as it includes a faster E Ink display from the Touch. The new version drops the built-in keyboard, however, and makes users rely on the navigation buttons for control.
The pricing of both e-readers is both a step to help mass market e-readers but also to distance conventional e-paper readers from tablets. Owners of iPads and other full-fledged tablets often drop plans to get e-readers and, until now, have sometimes seen the price difference as too narrow to get a high-end e-reader instead. Readers at $79 and $99 may help either get those who only wanted a digital e-book device as well as those who can afford to get both a full tablet and an e-reader for circumstances where a tablet would be too risky or unreadable, like bright sunlight.