Thank you so much for your question Tom. It is a perfect subject for my post today, and hopefully will help many of my dear readers.
There are a few generations of Kindles out now, many of the first ones are still working just fine. Here is the lowdown on them:
- Kindle 1: The very first Kindle, has a wheel to navigate with instead of a menu button, and a keyboard. It has a replaceable battery and the first e-ink screen. It also has Whispernet service so you can get books sent right to it, not as fast as the newer ones, but still ok. You can even listen to music and audio book files with this. Connecting it to the computer is via USB, but the connection on the Kindle end (mini B) is slightly larger than the micro-B connector on the newer Kindles. You can't purchase these new from Amazon any more, but there are still many still in use. Mine is still useable, was loaned to a dear friend of my daughter's for a few months. She later sent it back home to me when she purchased her first new Kindle. I now have it lovingly and proudly displayed on my desk.
- Kindle 2: Huge upgrade from the Kindle 1. This Kindle generation improved on the e-ink technology and gave us a brighter, even easier to read screen. Instead of that clunky wheel, we now had a toggle switch that gave us access to all the goodies. It helps navigate various screens and choices with a flick up, down, left or right. Pressing in on it is pretty much the same as pressing an enter key. It makes things happen. This Kindle also does audio books and mp3 music files just fine. You can not purchase these new from Amazon any more either, but there are still many in use. This is the one my daughter is still using and is attached to my Amazon account. The USB connector is different (micro-B on the Kindle end and USB for the computer end). This is the connection Amazon seems to have settled on so this same connector can also be used on your newer Kindles. This connector is also used to charge your little machine, either by connecting it to the USB port on your computer or plugging the USB end into a wall adapter to charge.
- Kindle 3: Great generation of Kindle. In fact this Kindle from last year is still around with the name Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Keyboard 3g. A good sturdy reader that will keep you happy a long time. The toggle switch 5-way controller has been replaced by a real button surrounded by 4 little sliver buttons for up, down, left and right. The middle button is the one that makes it all happen, sort of like an enter key on your computer keyboard. This is the first Kindle to give you a choice of connecting with wifi (very nice) or a Whispernet 3g connection. So you should be able to shop on Amazon and have your books delivered pretty much anywhere. This is the first time you have a choice of colors on your Kindle. This is also the first Kindle to be able to actually download audible.com books to the device directly (wifi only). I have one of these in the slate color, now living in the home (and being used a lot) by a wonderful neice and her husband. It is still on my Amazon account, so they have a pretty large library of books to choose from. I think hubby is the more vociferous reader. He uses it to listen to audible.com books too.
- Kindle DX: The big brother to the Kindle Keyboard. This kindle is much larger than the Kindle 3, but some like its size for pdf files. It does pdf books great! It has the same buttons and 5-way toggle the Kindle 2 had, but the software in it is much more sophisticated, with a nice auto landscape feature if you turn it on its side. It is still the e-ink screen, which means it is easy on the eyes. It comes with free 3g connectivity, 9.7 inch e-ink display, and works globally (whatever that means). It is a wonderful machine! I thought there were two color choices for the DX, but after a little search on the Amazon store, it looks like only the darker, slate color is available. I have my Kindle DX here at home, and have had it almost 2 years. It will do audio books and mp3 files, but only if they are manually placed in the proper folder on the machine. It is semi retired since the Kindle Fire arrived at my front door, but it still works great.
- Kindle 4: The newest Kindle, simply named the Kindle ... the best price of all the Kindles, you can get this new one for only $79 (with special offers/ads on the screen) or $109 (no ads or special offers). There is no keyboard, just 4 buttons and a 5-way controller. On both sides of the screen you will find the next and back page buttons. This way you can change pages back and forth with either hand. The buttons below the screen are very straightforward and easy to understand. This Kindle also can be connected to your computer via the same USB connection as the rest of the newer Kindles. It uses the same file structure as the other Kindles, with any books you want to physically transfer from your computer to this Kindle going to the Documents folder on the Kindle. You also need to eject (mac) or safely remove (pc) before actually disconnecting the usb cable, but if you have had a Kindle before, this will be very familiar. This is a bare bones, read books only Kindle and does not do audio books or music files. For down and dirty reading however, and if you like the really small size, it is one of the best. This thing will fit in most pockets just fine.
- Kindle 5: The Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3g has the first touch screen on a Kindle, no keyboard. Tap the screen to open a book, tap and hold for more options. Swipe your finger to the right to turn a page one way, swipe to the left to turn the other way. Tap the top of the screen to see the menu and toolbar. This little gem has the latest e-ink technology. Read it in the brightest sunlight and your books will show great. In the dark though, just like with a paper book, you will need some light. This Kindle does wifi or 3g, depending on which you purchase. This is the only ereader with text to speech, mp3 AND audiobook support. The size on this Kindle is large enough to not be wimpy and, unless you have really tiny hands, small enough to use with one hand (right or left). There is one button at the bottom on the front of this Kindle. It is the Home button and where all good things start. Listen to music in the background while you read your favorite book. This is Amazon's latest e-ink technology at its best.
- Kindle 6: The Kindle Fire...Look! It's a tablet! It's an eReader! Oh MY! This newest Kindle is a nice size, does video AND you can read your books with it. It is wifi only, meaning you need to have wireless access at home, but it can also be used in wifi hotspot areas that have free access, like libraries, restaurants and many other places. Heck you can get a free Internet connection at most Big Mac places (MacDonalds). Just turn it on and it works! I love that. Unlike the iPad, Amazon isn't in a snit with Adobe or Flash technology. Get this little darlin on the Internet, and if you have a Prime Amazon account (where you can get free 2 day shipping on a LOT of stuff) you will also have free access to Prime movies and tv shows and series. Can you spell STAR TREK? OMYGOD! This little machine does not choke on flash. And to think you can also read your books on it...in the dark even! This is an all touch screen device, so when you turn it on and touch the word Books, you will have a choice to access your Amazon library via the cloud reader, or books already on your device. Any book you choose in the cloud reader will automatically be downloaded to your device. Touch an hold on a book on your device and you can choose to remove it, but it will still be up on the cloud if you ever want it again. I love this little machine and have been waiting for it for a long time. For a first on Amazon, it is amazing. Look for it to get better and better as time goes by.
And of course... shameless promotion below.
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