Steve Fenton

Kindle or Kindle Fire or Kindle Paperwhite

After reading my article about Kindle vs Kobo, a lot of people have been asking me whether to get a Kindle, Kindle Fire or Kindle Paperwhite. Rather than respond to everyone individually, I thought I’d put my opinions down in a follow up article. This article assumes that you’ve decided to buy a Kindle and compares what you get from each of the current models.

Kindle Fire HD

My recommendations are based on what you are going to use your Kindle for. If the answer is reading books, forget the Kindle Fire HD straight away. The Kindle Fire is a general use tablet that you can do lots of stuff on, including reading books. If your relationship with your Kindle is going to involve playing games, watching movies, browsing the web, checking your email and a bit or reading – the Kindle Fire HD is your companion for all of these. When it comes to reading books on a Fire, you’re looking at a computer screen and that isn’t the best kind of screen for lots of reading. As a multi-purpose device, it rocks and its price tag is very competitive.

If you can’t choose between the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD I can tell you the HD version is a no brainer – you get a lot more for just a slightly higher price.

Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Paperwhite 3G

If you want something to read books on, e-ink displays are where its at. They may not be fantastically high resolution or colour (yet) but they are designed to read like paper. This is not a detail to be sniffed at and if your primary use for a Kindle is reading, it has to be Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Paperwhite 3G. Let’s look at Kindle vs Paperwhite first.

The difference between the Kindle and the Paperwhite that really matters to most people is buttons. The Kindle has buttons on each side to flip pages back and forward. Real buttons that you press. Buttons you can feel. It also has a few buttons at the bottom that you’ll use less often, but are equally read beneath your fingers. If you like proper physical buttons, you need to buy the Kindle.

If you don’t need real buttons, the Kindle Paperwhite offers higher resolution, longer battery life, self-illuminating screen and a host of other upgrades. You touch the screen to flip pages, which sounds okay but can be mildly annoying (times 200 pages) if you aren’t of a touch-screen disposition. On-screen typing is a bit easier, but you’ll use it rarely. If you can live without the buttons (and seriously this is more important than you realise if you don’t know which camp you fall in) the Paperwhite gives you quite a lot more with a reasonably chunky price upgrade.

Currently, the Kindle Paperwhite 3G is a hefty additional price compared to the standard wi-fi only version. The only added benefit is that you don’t need to have a wi-fi connection to get hold of your books as they’ll download over Amazon’s 3G Whispernet. If you are starved of wi-fi connections, you might consider the upgrade, but for most people – I would recommend you just use wi-fi to get your books.


So if you want something to seriously read books on, avoid the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. They are tablets and you’ll have to compromise on readability to enable all those other cool features.

If you need real buttons, you have to choose the Kindle.

If you don’t care ’bout no stinkin’ buttons – the Kindle Paperwhite beats both the Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G based on current prices.

Current Prices

At the time of writing, the prices were…

  • Kindle Fire: £129
  • Kindle Fire HD: £159 (+£30 for lots more)
  • Kindle: £69
  • Kindle Paperwhite: £109 (+£40 for higher resolution, light, lots of extras but no buttons)
  • Kindle Paperwhite 3G: £169 (+£60 for 3G)

Written by Steve Fenton on