The latest generation has just launched, with it Amazon has created a smaller, sleeker and far more sexier device than the third-generation Kindle (or Kindle Keyboard). Itself Amazon’s biggest selling item of all time, due in part to it’s near £100 price and the definitive ebook reader.
Version four is finally here and does it bring many improvements? Do you really need to get it when you can download the app for free? We’ll find out.
Amazon Kindle: Design and build
Each version of the Kindle gets slimmer and lighter. Weighing just 170g, it feels very light to hold and takes up far less space in your bag. 30% lighter and 18% smaller, it makes the previous Kindle feel heavy and bulky in comparison, which it clearly isn’t.
At 6-inches the screen is the same size, page forward and back buttons are on located on both sides, enabling you to use the Kindle comfortably with your right or left hand.
Underneath are small back, keyboard, home and menu buttons and a square-four way controller for navigation, virtually identical to the one on the third-generation Kindle.
Of course some of the space conservation is due to the lack of physical keyboard. Instead you get a virtual keyboard. At first we were a little dubious of this – anyone who has used the virtual keyboard on the PSP will remember how slow it is creating words without a touchscreen. But it’s actually pretty quick.
Here as you compose words by selecting letters in the Kindle Store, it intelligently makes suggestions for your. Enter Bry (for Bill Bryson) and it suggests everything beginning with Bry, so often you don’t have to type the whole word.
Amazon Kindle: Performance
Whether just swapping between pages or downloading it feels far quicker that the previous Kindle. Using both devices over a WiFi connection the new Kindle loads the store more quickly, downloading a book sample a good 10-seconds faster than its predecessor. There’s no 3G, so if you want this you’ll need the Kindle Keyboard 3G (£149).
As we’ve mentioned before the screen remains 6-inches and when reading you can choose from eight text sizes, which for elderly people or those with poor eyesite, is incredibly useful.
Text is sharp and easy to read and the beauty of e-ink is that it doesn’t cause eye strain or headaches. It’s also readable in bright sunlight.
Anyway one who is familiar with the Kindle app or reader will know there’s an excellent choice. With 1 million free books and 750,000 books and magazines you can pay for. After you’ve downloaded a few books, it will start making suggestions based on your preferences
Up to 1400 of these can be stored on the Kindle and once you’ve paid for them you can download and read them via the Amazon Kindle app on iOS, Android or Windows Phone. You can download a chapter of each book without charge and cancel a payment, if one has been made incorrectly.
Amazon Kindle: Extra features
Like previous versions, you do get a basic web browser. Yes it’s black and white and without a touchscreen you have to navigate web pages using the square rocker, but if you are patient you can still read web pages. We only accessed it over WiFi, which was relatively quick (not smartphone speed of course).
Amazon Kindle: Verdict
With the Kindle Fire on the way – although we’ve yet to have a date of when this will come to the UK. It’s easy to think ‘I’ll hang on for that.’ And if you are looking for a tablet/e-reader that might be a wise move. However if your main priority from a portable device is reading, then the Kindle should be your first choice. For long periods of reading E-Ink is far superior to a smartphone app.
Combining the Kindle Store’s excellent selection of ebooks, with a user-friendly interface and more pocketable format and the new Kindle is a winner and the best e-reader on the market.