If you believe the buzz around the Web today, the Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi – a sleek, graphite-colored e-reader priced at $139 – is the best electronic reading device ever. Over at PC World, for instance, Jared Newman declares that "Amazon's new Kindle spells doom for other e-readers." His logic is simple: The Kindle Wi-Fi undercuts the price on devices such as the Borders Kobo and brings the fully-featured e-reader to a reasonable price-point.
"This spells disaster for other e-reader makers, who have either relied on prices or features to hold some kind of edge on the Kindle," Newman writes. "With the exception of Barnes & Noble's Nook, which closely matches the Kindle on price and features while luring shoppers in its bricks-and-mortar stores, the competition now needs to make some major adjustments."
So is Newman on to something? Yes. As Amazon itself noted in a press statement announcing the release of the new Amazon Kindle, the Kindle line has been the bestselling item on Amazon for two years. The Kindle would likely have been even more of a smash hit – Amazon doesn't release exact sales figures – if the last few Kindle devices hadn't been priced near the $300 point.
Now that the Kindle price tag has dropped under a $150, it's not unreasonable to expect that a whole lot of consumers will be jumping into the Kindle fray. (Amazon is also selling a $189 Kindle with 3G support.) Moreover, the new Kindle line sounds pretty formidable. According to Amazon, the latest iteration of the Kindle has "a new electronic-ink screen with 50 percent better contrast than any other e-reader," and a body 21 percent smaller than the last Kindle.
That's not all: "The new Kindle also offers 20 percent faster page turns, up to one month of battery life, double the storage to 3,500 books, built-in Wi-Fi, a graphite color option and more," Amazon reps write. So yes, it's a solid machine, and it comes from a company that's already managed to corner a lot of the e-reader market. It's certainly a more attractive proposition than the Kobo, which ships with clunky controls and no Wi-Fi support.
But will the Amazon Wi-Fi really "spell diaster" for other e-readers? We'll wait to see about that.