Marco Arment Compares Today's Major E-Readers

Marco Arment:

The Kindle Touch is almost a very good product, but its poor responsiveness is distracting. The Nook shows that this probably could be fixed in a software update, but we’ll see if Amazon actually does: historically, Kindles have received very few software updates, and they usually don’t include major changes. The Kindle Touch is still a good choice, and it’s my favorite of the touch readers — but it just barely edges out the Nook. (And the Nook is six months old. I’m curious to see the next one.)

The low-end, non-touch Kindle 4 is actually my favorite e-reader today. It lacks the easier text selection and periodical navigation of the touch readers, and it’s effectively impossible to type on, but neither of those interfere with the most common actions when reading. It’s faster, thinner, and lighter than all of the touch readers, the interface makes the most sense and is the most responsive, and it works best with Instapaper.

Marco answers the most popular question regarding e-readers: which is the one to buy? And I must say, I can definitely appreciate his argument. The low-end Kindle does appear to be responsive and lightweight, while still having access to the great Amazon library. Similarly, Marco's criticisms of the Kindle Touch are well-put, and I have little contention.

Having said that, for me, the Kindle Touch remains king.

As Marco highlights, typing on the low-end Kindle is "effectively impossible," and that is just an unacceptable pitfall for me. I enjoy shopping on my Kindle, taking notes, highlighting with ease, and I think the touch interface is of irrefutable importance for such features. Furthermore, while the touch may not be as responsive now, or as it may be currently lacking in one or two other areas, it is still likely to be the future for all e-readers. Touching the page, rather than pressing a button is a much more natural, intuitive experience when coming from the venerable physical book. While the Kindle Touch may not execute this flawlessly, it still provides a consuming experience -- one unfettered by hardware. Having experienced that, I am unlikely to go back.

Which e-reader would I recommend? While the Nook looks compelling, I am still enthralled with my Kindle Touch. Despite some of its lacking features, I'd say the benefits outweigh the negatives.

For context, here is my review of the Kindle Touch.