After extensive use on a week long trip to Hawaii, I like it.
It works on the beach and you don’t have to carry books.
The contrast and readability is acceptable, excepting the previously discussed typographical issues.
Battery life wasn’t an issue on a week long trip with hours of daily use.
The page turn buttons continued to bother me, but overall the ease and lightened load seemed worth it on vacations.
Vs. The Other Kindles
This is the wrong device to get someone who doesn’t have a computer and WiFi. If you’re getting a Kindle for a technophobe, consider one of the 3G models that requires zero setup and is fully self contained. A bit more in initial cost, but it will be configured to “just work” and be network enabled out of the box.
I don’t see much reason to get the keyboard version ($20 more) unless you find the dimensions of this one too small (remember, the screen size is the same, but the device size is much smaller) or the primary user will be buying books on the device rather than with a computer.
I have not used the unreleased Kindle Touch but I have my doubts that a touchscreen is necessarily better. I think I would rather have better dedicated page turn buttons than constantly be touching invisible targets on the screen to turn the page, but I’ll reserve judgment until I try one.
The Kindle Touch is a tad larger and heavier — ~6oz vs ~7.5oz, 6.5” x 4.5” x .34” vs. 6.8” x 4.7” x 0.40” — but not significantly, and $20 more.
The $199 - Kindle Fire - despite the name and branding - is not really in the same category of devices, and is more rightly compared to an iPad or Android tablet. The Kindle Fire will not have competitive battery life, weight, or a display easily read outdoors.
Vs. Competing Ereaders
The iPad is too heavy and impossible to read in the sun.
Nobody buys Android tablets and they aren’t really worth talking about, and again, they’re not really the same class of device.
iriver Story HD has partnered with Google to make an ugly device that has mostly been ignored. http://books.google.com/help/ebooks/ereader.html
I would never buy such a thing.
The Nook is the only serious competitor in the ereader space that has a properly integrated bookstore backing it, which is critical to the ease of use of an ereader.
Any device that expects you to purchase content, manage it on on a desktop hard drive, and sync via USB seems antiquated at this point.
The first generation Nook was a bizarre frankenstein hybrid of eink and a color touchscreen that I thought was extremely bizarre, though the latest Nook Simple Touch at $139 seems significantly better.
The new Kindle is practically weightless, holds more books than many people read in a lifetime, runs for a month on a single charge, and frees you from housing physical manifestations of books you buy.
If that’s appealing to you, there’s never been a better, cheaper way to get an eink reader.
If you’d rather lug books around instead, I respect and admire you.
Don’t get it wet.