The Amazon Kindle 4 (aka Kindle 4th Gen, Kindle Touchless or just plain Kindle) was announced as a sidenote to the colour Kindle Fire and touch-enabled Kindle Touch. But in many ways it was the most significant of the three, because of its extraordinary price.
The UK remains the poor cousin to the US in the world of dedicated ebook readers. While many are on the market, to be a real success they need the vertical integration of being linked with a book seller, both for usability and the subsidy to the initial purchase price.
A stand-alone reader needs to make a profit for the manufacturer from the retail price alone, while a book seller device can make its money from the books and so can afford to be priced cheaply. And Amazon as the biggest book store can subsidise its ereaders the most.As a result we really only have Amazon's Kindle, missing out on other book seller-tied devices such as the Nook and Kobo.
Worse, we currently only have one of the new generation of Kindles, the others being restricted to the US (presumably for supply reasons). And to add salt to the trans-Atlantic wound, our new Kindle costs £89 compared to $79 (around £50) in the States.
But we do at least have one of the next-gen Amazon Kindles, and it's still very, very cheap. So how does it stack up?
Well, unlike the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire, the plain Kindle is basically a cut down and repackaged version of last year's Kindle 3 - now renamed the Kindle Keyboard - rather than one with new technologies and features added.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, because the Kindle Keyboard was the best ebook reader on the market in terms of screen, book choice and price.
If you put the price of the US version out of mind, £89 really is cheap as chips for an ebook reader, especially one as accomplished as this.
As well as opening up ereaders to a new market, when the reader is priced this low you're less worried about taking it into environments where you might think twice about using expensive electronics, such as the bathroom or the beach. While not exactly disposable, it's not £500-worth of iPad to wreck either.
Amazon famously sells more books in Kindle ebook format than in print these days, and this price point is only going to accelerate that trend.