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Amazon introduces $99 Kindle Touch, its first touchscreen e-book reader

Consumer Reports News: September 28, 2011 10:23 AM

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Amazon today unveiled its first Kindle e-book reader with a touchscreen. The Kindle Touch, available in November, will start in price at $99, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced at a press event in New York. It will ship on November 21. Also announced: the Kindle Fire, Amazon's long-anticipated tablet.

The new device allows Amazon to play catch-up with competitors that already have touchscreen devices on the market, including Sony (including the Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1, a brand-new device scheduled to ship October 2nd) and Barnes & Noble. And the Kindle Touch will be available for less than the touch readers from those manufacturers.

The $99 version of the Touch will be one of the Kindle With Special Offers devices, which have ads and special offers on their screensaver and home page. An ad-free version will be available for $139, the same price as the B&N Nook Simple Touch Reader. Both will use 3G.

The Kindle Touch, which will ship in November, uses the same Pearl E Ink screen as the current Kindles and most other competitors and has received high marks in our , Ratings of e-book readers (available to subscribers). Amazon promises the device will turn pages 10 per cent faster than those predecessors.

CEO Bezos showed how the company has zoned the touch zones on the new Kindle Touch, supposedly to more easily read left-handed. Called EasyReach, it creates a small page-back tap zone on the left of the page; tap anywhere else on the page, and the page goes forward.

The device also marks the debut of a new way to locate content within Kindle books, which Amazon calls X-Ray. The feature allows you to touch the name of a character or phrase within a book and then, after summoning a pop-up screen and pressing “X-Ray,” read, sequentially, all mentions to the character or phrase within the book. As Bezos remarked, it lets you see "the bones of the book."

We’ll have more later on the Touch and the other devices expected to be announced at the event, including the Kindle Fire, Amazon's first tablet.

(photo: Amazon)

Paul Reynolds

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