The move won’t come as a surprise for many who have been watching the e-reader wars heating up over the last 6 months. With new players such as Apple’s record-breaking iPad and the value-priced Kobo, Amazon is obviously feeling pressure to stay relevant.
The price drop on the Kindle is noteworthy for two reasons: First, it closes the gap between Amazon, Sony and Kobo, all of whom are now in the sub-$200 category. It also makes the Kindle far more appealing given that feature for feature it still trumps these other devices.
Second, the new price likely indicates that a new model is on the horizon. Some are calling for this to happen as early as August. The current Kindle is now just under two years old so the timing is right for a refresh.
So should you take advantage of the price drop and jump on the ereader bandwagon? Or if you’ve already decided you want in on the e-reading platform, is the Kindle now the obvious choice?
Here are some things to consider:
– The Kobo Reader is easily the best value at $149 CDN. However it is a basic device – you can read books, PDFs and that’s pretty much it. Connectivity includes USB-to-PC and a Bluetooth option that requires a smartphone like the Blackberry. The included SD-card slot makes storage virtually unlimited. The Kobo is also the lightest device in its class, at 221 grams, largely thanks to its plastic case which may strike some as not quite robust enough for heavy use.
– The Sony Reader (Pocket Edition, now $199 CDN) matches the Kobo in terms of features and weight (but lacks the Bluetooth and SD card slot options) yet it has a more solid construction. I find that that the Sony’s e-ink display is crisper than the Kobo’s which is odd given that they both use the same technology. This could simply be the difference in their choice of materials.
– The Kindle ($189 USD) is still the most expensive – especially when you factor exchange rate and shipping. However it is packed with an impressive feature list that you won’t find on any of the other readers. The highlights are: Full QWERTY keyboard which can be used for annotating books and other publications, plus searching the contents of the device, a built-in 3G modem which gives you free wireless access to the Amazon book store. Books can be purchased and downloaded directly to the Kindle in under a minute. Text-to-speech capability means that the Kindle can actually read books aloud, so long as the publisher has enabled this for the title in question. However the Kindle is heavier than the other two (at 289 grams) and is not compatible with the ePub format, so you’re pretty much limited to what Amazon has in their bookstore. On the other hand, it does support MP3 and Audible audio files.
– The iPad is an amazing device, but despite what some have said, it is not an e-book killer. It has a beautiful colour screen, which is highly reflective and ends up getting smudged with finger prints. This combination makes it nearly unreadable in bright sunlight. iBooks is a very slick app, and books on the iPad look great, but the iPad itself is heavy and awkward to hold for any length of time. I can’t imagine trying to get comfortable reading a book on the iPad while you’re lying in bed.