It's a Kindle face-off, with Kindle winners and Kindle losers
Pros: Beautiful screen and performance, amazingly inexpensive, excellent online services integration
Cons: Lackluster storage allotment with no upgrades, Amazon-centric content limitations
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommendation: The Kindle Fire is an amazing device. For one, it costs just $199, less than one-third the cost of a mid-level iPad. Secondly, it does virtually everything important that the iPad does: It connects to a voluminous online store that's packed with content (TV shows and movies, music, eBooks and audio books, periodicals, and of course apps). And the performance is incredible; screens animate and flip with abandon. And did I mention it was just $199? The problem, however, is that the Kindle Fire is tied very much to Amazon's services. Yes, you can access third party services through Android apps for Netflix and Pandora and the like, but when you go with the Kindle Fire, you're implicitly accepting a future of almost purely Amazon content purchases. The onboard storage allotment is tiny, at just 8 GB, and you can't upgrade it, so syncing content to the Fire for offline use is limited. But you know what? It's $199. And it's already the second-best-selling tablet behind the iPad. Go figure.
Discussion: Read Paul's full review of the Kindle Fire and check out the photos at his SuperSite for Windows.
Amazon Kindle Touch
Pros: Excellent e-ink screen, 3G available as an option, stellar battery life
Cons: Terrible and non-discoverable touch-screen interface, a power button that's too easy to trigger inadvertently
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Recommendation: The Amazon Kindle Touch includes most of what I've always loved about the Kindle eBook readers: It's compatible with the best eBook and periodical selection anywhere, it features the superior e-ink screen, and it's amazingly small, light, and affordable. Unfortunately, Amazon bungled the transition to multi-touch, providing a touch UI that is both non-intuitive and non-discoverable, and putting it in a device that can power on by mistake too easily in a bag, causing items in the bag to interact with the screen, advancing the page and causing other errors. You can partially solve these issues by getting a case, which I recommend. But you're better off simply getting another Kindle. This first touch-based Kindle is no good.
Discussion: Read the full review of Amazon Kindle Touch and Paul's experiences with the device at SuperSite for Windows.
Amazon Kindle (Base Model, Late 2011)
Pros: Excellent e-ink screen, superior mechanical navigation buttons, tiny and thin form factor, incredible low price, stellar battery life
Cons: No 3G option
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommendation: I had originally expected to skip the base model Kindle because it doesn't include an option for 3G connectivity, via which Amazon provides free connectivity for eBook and periodical downloading. But after experiencing the Kindle Touch (above), I ordered a base Kindle instead and have never looked back. Aside from the lack of 3G, this device is nearly perfect for reading, with a superb e-ink screen, the smallest and thinnest-ever Kindle form factor (with the same 6-inch screen, however), and the wonderful mechanical navigation buttons I missed so much on the Touch. If what you care about most is the reading experience, save some money and go with the incredibly inexpensive ($79) base model Kindle. This is a wonderful device.
Discussion: Read the full review of Amazon Kindle at SuperSite for Windows.