The New $79 Kindle is Basically a Downgraded Kindle Touch From 3 Years Ago


New Kindle vs Kindle Touch

It’s interesting to see how technology evolves over the years. Some technologies advance a lot faster than others. Some, like E Ink, seem to evolve at a snail’s pace.

The new entry-level $79 Kindle is a good example of just how slow innovation is in the field of dedicated ebook readers and the electronic ink industry.

Three years ago this September 28th, Amazon released their first touchscreen ebook reader, the Kindle Touch, along with their first Kindle Fire tablet.

The funny thing about it is the first Kindle Fire tablet is majorly outdated by today’s standards—the new Fire tablets have much better hardware, especially better screens and processors.

But when it comes to the new $79 Kindle, it basically has the same exact hardware as the Kindle Touch from three years ago. In fact you could argue that the new Kindle is a downgrade from the Kindle Touch.

For $20 more, the Kindle Touch offered audio support with a headphone jack and it had surprisingly loud external speakers for listening to audiobooks, music, and text-to-speech. The original Kindle Touch also boasted a longer battery life, and it was available with optional 3G wireless as well.

The new $79 Kindle doesn’t support audio, and the color has changed from grey to black, but underneath it’s almost the exact same as the Kindle Touch. It uses the same infrared touchscreen, and it has the same exact 800 x 600 resolution E Ink Pearl display. It has the same amount of storage space (4GB) and the overall dimensions are almost identical. Update: It’s still unclear which screen tech the new Kindle Touch uses; Amazon’s US site says Pearl, but on other Amazon sites it says Carta…

One advantage the newer model has from a hardware perspective is a faster processor. The older Kindle Touch had an 800MHz processor and the newer model has a 1GHz processor.

Aside from that, it’s basically the same device in a new shell. It’s interesting just how different the pace of progress has been for E Ink ebook readers compared to tablets over the past three years.

Just think, three years from now, Amazon could be re-releasing a budget version of the Kindle Voyage for around $99. That would be pretty sweet :).

9 Responses to “The New $79 Kindle is Basically a Downgraded Kindle Touch From 3 Years Ago”

  1. Agreed. Not really an upgrade at all. The last Kindle non-touch basic is a far more attractive device IMO. Lighter, page turn buttons, and a screen with a shorter bezel, not to mention being $10 cheaper. I always thought the text contrast was the best of any pearl screen device. Not sure what the thinking was behind this one. For $40 more, the PW is a much, much better device.

  2. The problem is that there really is no e-reader competition for Amazon. Nook and Sony are pretty much out. So the only major e-reader vendor left is Kobo.

    Improvements or price reductions on the low end of the e-reader scale have been pretty much non-existent over the past two years. Pretty sad..

  3. Since Amazon intended to launch a new model of Kindle without frontlight because they do not release a Kindle DX Touch? A totally irrelevant issue for sure will be a sales flop.

  4. And what has happened to development of the color e-ink screen since Amazon acquired Liquavista almost a year and a half ago? It’s truly astonishing that no one can figure out how to make that work.

  5. The Kobo Touch (600 x 800 resolution, Eink Pearl, no frontlight) is selling for $99. It seems that Amazon has matched the Kobo Touch features (with the exception of a microSD card slot) and price with the new basic Kindle: $79 + $20 to get rid of the ads = $99. I think I might get the Kindle predecessor with the buttons, if Best Buy puts them on clearance for a great price. I love those simple page-turn buttons that DON’T give your thumb a buzz. They just do exactly what they’re supposed to do: turn the page. I don’t think the Kindle Voyage is for me, at any price point, because the haptic feedback on the page-turn buttons would surely jolt me out of my book world and right back into real life. And, in that case, what’s the point of reading?

  6. There really isn’t much need for improvement in the basic eink technology — it is a single-function device that does its job very well.

    Personally, I would want a device with user replaceable batteries and a Memory Card slot.

    I would think that Amazon should make a priority of releasing a $49, then a $25 very basic eink reader. (Perhaps subsidized through a book bundle to get the price down?)

    Getting below the $50 and then the $25 price points would make the eink Kindles a real impulse purchase and would open up the technology to many more young and lower-income readers.

  7. Exactly what I thought when I first saw the new Kindle [Touch] specs.
    PS: I still have and use everyday my Kindle Touch, and I was not thinking of getting a KPW earlier and now even less the new and expensive Voyage. IMO the new Kindle [Touch] is the best device out in the market now. It is not worthy to get the other ones… Sad it is a downgraded version of the KT. It could be a re-release, and, of course, with audio support and TTS in many languages as Pocketbook does with the Ultra.

  8. I agree with Bill Smith. I expected Amazon to release a basic kindle at around $49 and an improved high-end model at around $99.
    But it seems that they are no longer even trying to expand the market for eReaders.
    I consider the new Kindle Voyage to be a sad joke. For the last 20 years electronics of all sorts have always become more capable while simultaneously becoming cheaper. A marginally improved Kindle PW at a much higher price is a bit of a shocker.