Amazon Kindle (2011) impressions

Price was one of the recurring themes at today's Amazon event in New York City, and nowhere was that factor more present than with the new Kindle. At $79, this truly is an entry level device, and certainly the company made some sacrifices to hit that price point -- most obviously, the reader doesn't have the touchscreen featured in both the Kindle Touch and the latest Nook and Kobo devices -- though like those products, the Kindle did lose its physical keyboard, giving it a much smaller footprint than the last generation. In place of the infrared touchscreen are a series of buttons: Home, Menu, Keyboard and Back. In the middle is a toggle button that lets the user scroll through menus -- that activity can be performed pretty quickly with the physical buttons, and flipping through pages is not problem with the familiar buttons on either side of the screen. Where one really misses the presence of touch, however, is with the on-screen keyboard -- typing is performed by clicking one's way through the virtual keyboard, a familiar task for anyone who has ever entered their name at the beginning of a video game with a console controller. Of course, typing is a secondary task on a device like this, so for many users this may not be a deal-breaker. For those who foresee the need for such functionality, however, $20 will buy you an upgrade to the Kindle Touch.%Gallery-135083%