I have been asked several times whether I recommend the Kindle Fire or Kindle Touch. I received the Kindle Touch at the end of December 2011 and the Kindle Fire end of May 2012. Now that I've had the Kindle Fire for six months, I'll try to answer that question.
While I wish that I could just recommend one of these Kindles, there is unfortunately not an easy answer. I really like them both for very different reasons! If I really had to choose between them, I would probably choose the Kindle Fire, but I think it's better to describe their strengths and differences and leave it to individuals to decide which is better for them.
I'll start by saying that I highly recommend the Touch and the Fire over the other Kindles available. More about why the Touch and Fire are the best Kindles below.
Most features in this table are explained in more detail below.
|Kindle Touch||Kindle Fire|
|Display Type||e-ink - easy to read outside||backlit - not as easy to read outside|
|Weight||7.5 ounces||14.6 ounces|
|Battery Life||about 30 days (with WiFi off)||up to 8 hours (charge every 1-2 days)|
For more information about the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch, please view them at Amazon.com. (Buying products from Amazon through my web pages helps me earn referral fees at no cost to you. Thank you!)
If you're only going to read novels, then the Touch's black and white screen is fine. But if you want to read magazines, children's picture books,or anything else with color pictures, the color screen is obviously a big plus.
Amazon makes a big deal about the E-ink display technology. It's supposed to be much easier to read in bright sunlight and easier on your eyes than a backlit screen. The E-ink screen also doesn't constantly redisplay like the backlit screen, so it uses less battery power. Personally, I do a lot of reading on my shaded porch and don't have trouble reading the Fire's screen, but I don't read in direct sunlight, so that's not a factor for me.
The downside to the Touch's E-Ink display is that since it's not backlit, you need a light source to read by. So if you read in bed a lot, you'll need to buy a separate Kindle book light. (Note that another leading brand of eReader recently came out with an E-Ink type display that has a light source around the screen that can be turned on and off. I expect this will be added to a Kindle soon.)
The weight of the Touch is really comfortable to hold and feels about the same as most paperbacks. It's certainly lighter than many hardback books. On the other hand, the Fire feels quite heavy and I find that I prefer to rest it on something when possible as my arm gets tired from holding it.
Both the Touch and the Fire include a web browser. HOWEVER, the Touch's web browser is under the Experimental menu. I find the Touch's web browser painfully slow. The Fire's Silk browser on the other hand is quite nice for sofa surfing.
On the Touch, I can easily go for a month on one battery charge if I keep WiFi turned off most of the time. The Fire, being a tablet with a backlit screen needs to be charged every 1-2 days depending on how much I use it.
Text-To-Speech is a feature that allows you to listen to an ebook via the Kindle Touch and select other Kindles. It's not at all the quality of the audio books recorded by professional authors, in fact, it's a computerized voice. This feature is not available for all ebooks. To determine if it is available for an ebook, find the book on Amazon, scroll down to the Product Details section and see if it says Text-to-Speech: Enabled. When available, the Kindle allows you to select between male of female voice and the speed of the reader. As I said, the quality is not great, but I think it's a cool feature for a light book when you really want to listen in the car, or for a book for which there is not audiobook available. For some reason I can't imagine (possibly a copy right issue mandated by the publishers?) it's not available on the Fire.
As mentioned above, the Fire is made for web surfing and other tablet functions such as watching video. There are also more apps available for the Fire which extends it's functionality.
Why the Fire and Touch are Better Than Other Kindles
Many see the Kindle Keyboard and think it's better because it has actual keyboard buttons. However, I feel strongly that the Touch is better because the whole screen is touch sensitive and it includes a keyboard on the touch screen. The whole screen being touch sensitive allows you to touch a word to get a definition, and highlight a phrase by touch, and navigate the menus by touch instead of using the up, down, left right arrow buttons to navigate. The Kindle Touch is $99 whereas the Kindle Keyboard starts at $139. While the Keyboard comes with free 3G which allows you to buy books from anywhere even when there is no WiFi signal, the Touch is available with 3G for $149 if 3G is really important to you.
The basic Kindle is sold for $79, but I feel strongly that the $20 for the Touch is well worth the price difference for the ease of navigation.