Amazon's no-frills ereader is about as cheap as they come, as long as you don't mind the ads. It performs like a champ, and if you don't care about the absence of a built-in light, this is the best deal around.
The sheer number of favorable Kindle reviews is evidence enough: The cheapest ereader among our top picks happens to be the best overall. Entry-level Kindles haven't changed much in the past couple of years, but the latest version incorporates a small performance boost and claims an Editor's Choice award from PC Mag. This expert review says the update's display shows minor improvements in the contrast and the rapid page turns are now uninterrupted by the swift fade to black that marked the previous model. There's still no touchscreen, but the ad-supported low price makes the basic Kindle an excellent deal. (An escape from the commercial intrusions costs an extra $20.) At Amazon, more than 5,000 reviews rave about the value and user-friendly functionality. Users like the light weight, the crisp text, and a muted display that's easy on the eyes at night. Some find the screen insufficiently bright, however, and a few report problems with freeze-ups and navigation buttons that give out. Still, the vast majority appreciate the portability and convenience of being able to carry around a personal library. Few users gripe about the missing touchscreen -- one commenter even prefers it this way, noting there's no chance of accidentally initiating an action.
The Kindle (starting at $69 with ads, Amazon) uses a 6-inch E Ink Pearl display, like most ereaders, but forgoes a touchscreen and integrated light. It weighs 5.98 ounces and holds 2GB of internal memory, 1GB of which is available for storage. (Users can also store and access all their Amazon content in the Amazon Cloud for no extra charge.) The ereader features Wi-Fi support and a battery that runs up to a month between charges as long as the Wi-Fi is off when not in use. It offers a choice of three fonts and eight font sizes and three settings for line spacing. Supported file formats in addition to Amazon's proprietary AZW format include TXT, PDF, HDML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP files. (Sorry, no support for EPUB.)
Where to buy
A true entry-level ereader, the Kindle eschews the extras increasingly common on these devices -- no touchscreen or integrated light, for example, and a rudimentary storage system that can't take cover art. But never mind. This is a stand-out product at a hard-to-beat price, one that delivers snappy performance with a screen that's easy to read.