The Kindle Touch is the middle child of the Amazon ereader family. Its siblings include readers with keyboards and those without, versions that flip between landscape and portrait view and those that don’t, plus the Kindle Fire, which is arguably not an ereader at all but a tablet that secondarily reads books.
The Kindle Touch, as the name implies, has a touch screen rather than a keyboard. There are only two buttons, one to wake up or shut down the device, and the other to go to its home page. Like other Kindles, the screen uses e-ink, a process where tiny particles within the screen are moved around by magnetic charge in order to form the letters. Unlike the LCD screens used by computers and most other electronic devices, e-ink screens don’t glow, so they can be easily read in full sunlight (but not in the dark), just like a paper book. E-ink screens are relatively easy on the eyes, and they use substantially less power, meaning that devices can use smaller, longer-lasting batteries. Amazon claims that the Kindle Touch can go two months without charging, though the actual figure depends on how often you read. A real bookworm might have only a week or so, but the main point is you don’t have to keep an eye on the clock while reading.
The Kindle Touch also has several features besides its ability to display books; it can play some games, display websites, and you can use it to take notes using an on-screen keyboard. One feature, called X-Ray, offers a sort of enhanced index where you can see where throughout the book certain proper names and important words occur—though nobody seems to be sure yet if this is actually useful or just a neat trick. The Touch will hold a huge library of books, but once you have bought a book, Amazon will allow you to re-download it at any time. It’s also possible to borrow ebooks from public libraries or from friends, and Kindle owners can take advantage of a free Kindle library as well (those simply using the Kindle app on a PC or other device cannot).
In comparison to traditional books, the Kindle Touch comes out in a rough tie. Kindles fit in a pocket, and weigh exactly the same no matter how many ebooks are on them. On the other hand, inked paper is still visually superior even to e-ink, and the simplicity of a traditional book offers its own kind of convenience. It’s hard to skim an ebook. In comparison to other ereaders, the Touch again comes out in a rough tie. Some people really like the touch screen and find the various features useful and intuitive (there are other touch-screen readers out there; by all reports they are very nearly identical to Kindle’s version). Other people don’t see the point in a touch screen at all. One issue to consider is the size of your hands; the Kindle Touch has an unusually narrow frame around the screen, which gives it a slim, stylish look. It also means that anyone with large fingers is going to have a hard time holding the thing without occasionally touching the screen. Men especially are going to spend a lot of time turning back to the pages they were reading after accidentally flipping backward through the book with errant thumbs.
In comparison to reading an ebook on a computer, the Kindle Touch offers a much better experience. Computer text sometimes wobbles, and Kindle text does not. And of course, there is the advantage of being able to read comfortably outdoors. The Touch will also play audio books, either with a small speaker or via headphones, and has a computerized text reader, though not all publishers will give permission for their ebooks to be read that way.
The Kindle Touch comes in two price options. The lower price (currently a hundred dollars or so) gets you adds, both on the default screen that comes up while the device is “asleep,” and along a banner at the bottom. Thirty dollars more gets rid of the adds, and you can upgrade from adds to no adds at any time. Users who have the version with adds generally find them easy enough to ignore, and some people find them helpful. It is possible to subscribe to these “special offers” if you get the non-adds version and regret it, but apparently allowing the adds back on your Kindle does not get you a thirty dollar refund.
The bottom line is that the Kindle Touch functions very well, especially if you happen to be blessed with narrow fingers. If you don’t like the Kindle Touch, it’s probably because you don’t want a touch screen ereader, which is fine, too.