Amazon to launch a new e-reader / web browser

Amazon have announced the latest iteration of their Kindle e-reader, which will cost £109 ($139) for a WiFi only model or £149 ($189) for a reader with 3G access that allows you to connect to the internet – if there’s a signal. It follows the iPad which sells for £429 ($499) for the WiFi model or £529 ($629) with a £10 ($15 or $25) per month subscription for the 3G model. A comparison between the models isn’t entirely fair. The Kindle is designed primarily as a device for e-books, while the iPad is a multimedia device. However, there is a basic web browser on the Kindle. If you’re looking for something that will primarily be used as an e-reader which device is better? The video below compares a Nook, which is similar to a Kindle, against an iPad.

It’s impossible to say too much about the web browsing experience on the new Kindle at the moment, though browsing on the Kindle 2.0 looks slow. A lot of the experience will depend on the speed of the connection Vodafone will allow in the UK. The display will be monochrome, slow and won’t have Flash. The iPad also lacks flash, but people are adapting websites to cater for its limitations. The iPad’s browser will better, whatever the browser on the Kindle is, partly due to the LCD touchscreen display which is faster than the e-ink used by the Kindle. The question is, “Is it worth £380 plus £10 a month for better mobile web access?”

Before you spend money on either of these, there’s also another range of devices on the horizon. A few companies have announced plans to launch tablet PCs based on the Android 2.2 operating system in October and November. Android is an operating system developed by Google used on smartphones that compete with the iPhone. Like the iPhone/iPad Android devices haven’t been able to run Flash, but Android 2.2 has changed that. If you’re impatient you can already get Android 1.6 devices to use as e-readers for just £85.

There is no single best device, but if you’re looking for a portable reader it’ll be worth looking around to see what you get for your money over the next six months.

Print has survived Radio, Television and the Web so far. It’s likely to survive eBooks too but as e-Readers become mainstream there will be more challenges for publishers of textbooks (and journals). How will they integrate the features that digital publications allow without losing accessibility or usability? Will print and digital content diverge rather than attempt to be facsimiles of each other?