Amazon Kindle's $489 price tag makes iPod Touch a better buy

Amazon Kindle's $489 price tag makes iPod Touch a better buy

Summary: Four hundred and eighty-nine dollars?!?! For an e-reader...

SHARE:

Four hundred and eighty-nine dollars?!?! For an e-reader...  That's not even in color. And doesn't come with Wi-Fi or games or apps or music playback or...

Tell me again why I would buy one of these new Amazon Kindle-DX devices. Because I have a cool $500 burning a hole in my pocket? Not in this economy, pal. Seems to me that it's cheaper - at least now - to just keep subscribing to the newspaper or buying used textbooks.

To recap: Amazon today announced the Kindle-DX, an electronic reader, as well as deals with textbook publishers and newspapers. (Check out Andrew Nusca's live coverage of the announcement in New York) I'm not opposed to e-readers - in fact, I use an Wi-Fi enabled iPod Touch to read a lot of newspaper and magazine content. At least with the iPod Touch, I get Wi-Fi (instead of 3G Wireless) and the ability to do more than just read - and even the most expensive model is almost $100 cheaper and comes with about 10 times the storage space.

Amazon is taking pre-orders now and will start shipping this summer. The company had better hope for some strong pre-order sales before Apple makes its own announcement at the Worldwide Developer's Conference in June. The buzz is that Apple will announce a new device, with speculation honing in on a new tablet or netbook computer. Personally, I think a larger screen iPod Touch or iPhone (which could also double as a tablet or netbook) is more in order.

If Apple pulls that off, it could steal some of Amazon's thunder by offering a better e-reading experience than even a new-and-improved Kindle is offering.

Also see: iPhone could morph into a tablet at WWDC

The big Kindle: Pondering Wi-Fi; Netbooks; Market implications

(Image Credit: Amazon.com)

Topics: Laptops, Amazon, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Tablets, Wi-Fi

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

92 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It's the eInk stupid

    Why can't ZDNet bloggers grasp the concept of a glare free screen? An e-reader without eInk is not something you want to spend time reading for hours on end, especially for those with old eyes.

    Regardless, $500 may be a lot but using a small screened back lit LCD device for reading books is not the solution. Just because it has a fruit logo on it does not make it the begin all and end all for all tech solutions.
    T1Oracle
    • I agree

      Either they don't seem to understand the technological and functional differences, or they are being paid off by Apple. I'd like to see them read War and Peace on an Ipod.

      (I don't think any of them have actually used a Kindle or Sony reader for more than a minute at a press conference.)
      gurg13
    • I agree...

      , especially with these 51-year-old eyes looking at the tiny screen! It seems that the bloggers (and many of their readers) expect that every device made MUST beat all other devices at EVERYTHING, or it won't be successful. If I were offered one of these, instead of all the books that I purchased in my undergrad days, in a heartbeat I would have taken it. (Of course, we had tablets back then, also. And chisels. :) ) If this is as successful on college campuses as some suggest it will, it's a winner. If it also happens to be good with newpapers, that's cool, too. If I wanted a full-blown computer, I'd carry one around. Most people don't want to do that.
      TimmyB
      • Funny . . .

        My 47-years old, 20/250 eyes don't seem to have a problem with either my daughter's iPod touch (2g) or my BlackJack II. As matter of fact, I've been reading the PAKSENARION series by Elizabeth Moon.

        I don't have any Eye strain from reading on either device, nor do I have a glare problem with it.

        If they devices like this back then, I would have leapt at the chance to get one, but now I think I'll wait until I see Apple's (as yet unconfirmed) device/announcement in June. The two things that will keep this from being the Textbook killer will be:

        1) Price. For that price tag, I can get a halfway decent notebook/netbook.

        2) Color. Until you can get the graphs, charts, photos, etc., from the textbook in color, most people may shy away, especially if those things are important to the class.
        JLHenry
    • ZDNet Bloggers Don't Get It

      It is getting to the point where I am not sure ZDNet bloggers will ever understand what the Kindle is and how it works. Arguing that an iPod touch offers anywhere close to the reading experience that Kindle does??? Give me a break!!! The iPod touch and Kindle are two totally different products that should not be compared. Like the original poster said, "It's the eInk stupid." Couldn't have said it better myself.
      jpate86
      • We get it alright - I have both and disagree

        I have both a 1st. generation Kindle and a 2nd. generation 32gb
        touch. Having used both extensively I can say that using the Touch
        with the (free) Stanza book reader provides a better platform for
        reading books than my Kindle.

        I setup my Touch with Stanza configured for slightly oversize black
        text on a yellow background, this provides a level of contrast that's
        very easy on the eyes; much better than my Kindle with it's not-quite-
        black text on grayish background.

        The brilliant contrast, variable text size and ease of operation, all
        coupled with enormous storage and format freedom make the ipod
        with Stanza a stand out winner when compared to my 1st. generation
        Kindle. As a bonus it's cheaper and has all the features that makes
        the ipod a better device in the first place.

        Stanze is free software you can download from itunes for the Touch
        and Iphone; it's file support support is excellent, old pdb (palm), html,
        text, rtf, or whatever, it doesn't seem to care, I've never found a book I
        couldn't read with it.

        Al


        afhavemann9
    • I disagree

      I already spend hours reading my back-lit LCD monitor and it's fine. I get color and animation at the expense of battery life and ability to read in direct sunlight. OLED displays may be somewhere in between.
      Ed Burnette
      • Once again...

        If folks were truly into reading books off of a PC or iPod there would already be a massive market for it. Apple would be selling ebooks like hotcakes off of iTunes or some other company would be making a fortune right now. Yet where is this market? People don't want to read books off their computers or iPods. This is self evident by the complete lack of success to date of the ebook market.
        oncall
        • People were saying the same thing about MP3 players back in 2001.

          Sometimes it takes a few "majorly expensive niche products" (such as the original $600 4GB black-and-white iPod) and a little iterative innovation before we see a major market emerge.
          daftkey
          • Kindle outsells iPod year 1

            There was an article somewhere comparing Kindle sales to date vs. iPod sales in it's first few years and Kindle has, thus far, outsold iPods by a decent margin. Which is why I get a chuckle out of folks who say "I don't see a market for it" or "I don't get it, it's too expensive" or "if only they made it more like electronic device x". People are buying them and enjoying them for what they are meant to be and they will sell even more as it is perfected.
            oncall
          • Outselling Ipod?! I dont think so.

            That's gotta a book cooking session to make that claim. Ohh Look we totally sold outta kindles! *snicker* (Promotion department "Ha they're buying it... dont let em know we made 12.")
            Breetai
          • Do your homework next time....

            http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/03/is-the-kindle-outpacing-early-ipod-sales/

            Have a nice day :)

            P.S. did you even read my post or just the title?
            oncall
          • The markets aren't really comparable, though...

            The markets aren't really comparable, though. The first iPod was a niche
            product that only worked with a niche computer. 99% of people who
            might have wanted to use an iPod couldn't either because they didn't
            have Windows, or they didn't have a FireWire port.

            Kindle isn't reliant on anything, so its market is more general (though,
            still a niche market.)

            Seems like a poor comparison.
            olePigeon
          • Then what?

            Bloggers and commenters keep saying, it's too expensive, etc. I ask "Based upon what? Intuition? Little voces? They just plain old made it up to generate comments?" All available data says it's doing well. I don't care what your basis for comparison selling out the first year and having folks lining up to get a hold of version 2 is damn good. Maybe it's not a great comparison but there are similarities: A new format of distribution and consumer consumption entering a market with well established old format players. Maybe DVD players? http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/cemadvdsales.html
            oncall
          • Limitations

            You might be right that the original iPod was more limited, in that it could only be used with a Mac, but on the other hand, avid readers committed enough to spend that kind of money on a device might be even more uncommon. Compared to audiophiles, book lovers are used to spending a lot less money on their hobby.
            bhartman36
          • IPhone DOUBLES Kindles first year sales in just 74 days

            So what?

            http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2007/09/apple-sells-1-millionth-iphone-steve-ballmer-not-available-for-comment.ars

            "Apple met its 1 million iPhone goal, just 74 days after the gadget's public release"
            YaBaby
        • Yup! eInk makes the difference

          The market simply shows how much people DO NOT want to use OLED or LCD tech in reading.
          dansen926
      • yeah, you kinda missed the point.

        "I get color and animation at the expense of battery life"

        Battery life being a big feature of e-books. You don't want your device to die while reading a nice, long novel.

        "and ability to read in direct sunlight."

        Which is the [b]WHOLE POINT[/b] of e-ink technology.

        . . . and frankly, with the Spring season here, I'm getting pretty annoyed that we still can't get a notebook screen that's legible in sunlight.

        No, wait, we can. Years ago, when backlighting was optional, we had LCDs that worked fine in sunlight. We just don't have them today.

        [B]WHY DON'T LCD DESIGNERS SPEND SOME TIME TRYING TO READ THEIR SCREENS IN SUNLIGHT???[/b]

        You wanna know why there's a market for this device? Get a clue and try reading your laptop screen in sunlight every once in a while.
        CobraA1
        • I always laugh

          out loud when I see a tv commercial or print ad showing someone sitting on the beach working with their laptop. What a joke.
          Azathoth
      • Reading

        Hi, Ed.

        I agree with you that the Kindle DX, specifically, isn't a compelling device. The price difference between the DX and a Kindle 2 doesn't seem justifiable, when you're really mostly paying for a bigger screen size and auto-rotate. However, I think you may be missing part of the point when it comes to the Kindle in general. Reading on a computer screen is a fundamentally different experience than reading a book, in at least two ways:

        1) A computer screen is relatively stationary. Even with a laptop, you're much more limited to where you can use it than you are with a a truly portable device (e.g., you wouldn't use a laptop while standing in line somewhere, or waiting to get your hair cut, waiting for a doctor's appointment, etc.

        2) The [i]kind[/i] of reading you do on a laptop is different. It's very difficult to sit down and read a 300-page book on a laptop, or even a desktop. Aside from being comparatively tiring, the interface for reading is relatively cumbersome (akin to booting up your computer, logging in to Windows, and firing up Calculator, just to do simple addition), and reading longer documents is uncomfortable, at best, because of screen technology (i.e., staring into a lightbulb for hours).

        An iPhone or iPod solves the portability problem, and it's certainly less overhead than a full-fledged PC, but the screen is harder to look at than a PC, and even less conducive to long-term reading. And of course, that's before you even get to the battery issue.

        Of course, like any dedicated device, the Kindle has limitations. Right now, the biggest one is lack of a color screen and some source of external lighting so you could read in poorly-lit conditions. But having used several PDAs as e-books over the years (starting with a Palm II and ending with a Centro), I can tell you with certainty that the experience of going from a PDA (which the iPhone essentially is, at this point) to a Kindle is like going from an Atari 2600 to a PS3.
        bhartman36