Kindle Touch is the latest eReader from Amazon. As the name suggests, it’s the first to arrive in the UK equipped with a touchscreen. But does this new feature improve the already excellent Kindle and are touchscreens best left to tablets? Let’s find out.
Amazon Kindle Touch: Design and Build
The Kindle Touch is approximately the size of paperback book, if a little wider and just over 1cm deep. It comes in two varieties. WiFi only and the 3G version we tested. Specifications are virtually identical – the 3G version weighs just 7g more, but is still a light 213g. Both include 4GB internal storage which can hold a staggering 3000 ebooks.
The sole control button takes you back to the homescreeen, where you can access your titles and download new ones from the Kindle Store.
Visually the most obvious difference between the Kindle Touch and the Kindle are the removal of the page forward and back buttons. To move forward and back you need to use the touchscreen, which you can do with one hand by swiping from left to right to go forward and back.
The screen is split into three what are described as Tap Zones. The first is a strip along the top where tapping brings up the menu and a shortcut to the Kindle Store. The second area is a strip 1cm wide on the left you tap to return to the previous page. Tap anywhere else on the remainder of the screen to go to the next page.
If you’ve used a Kindle before it takes time to get used to the touchscreen, it’s easy to accidentally tap the screen a little bit too long and jump forward several pages.
Benefits of the touchscreen including being able to jump back a chapter by swiping down and jumping forward a chapter by swiping up. Pressing a word brings up a definition from the Oxford Dictionary of English.
Amazon Kindle Touch: Performance
Amazon uses E-Ink in the Kindle Touch, text is sharp and crisp and less likely to cause strain to your eyes than a tablet or smartphone screen. At 6-inches the screen is a great size for reading and a quick pinch of screen (which is multitouch) enlarges the font where you can select the perfect size from eight.
Amazon claims the Kindle Touch lasts two-months, if you read half an hour a day. In our experience the battery lasts around two weeks if you read approximately two hours a day. Charging period is around 4.5 hours via micro USB port in the base, a mains connector isn’t supplied.
The highlight of this (and any) Kindle is its seamless integration with the Amazon store, which is quicker than ever to get too by tapping the basket icon, once there, there are hundreds of books free, all with a free downloadable first chapter. Navigating the store and selecting books is far easier with a touchscreen than the four-way controller used in previous Kindles (below).
Amazon claims books take around 60 seconds to download, but it’s often faster than that.
A feature new to the Kindle Touch is X-Ray, which lets you explore the structure of a book and search for references with a single tap. For example in The Hunger Games selecting Peeta displays all references to that characters as a timeline. It’s not a feature we see ourselves using, but useful for autobiographical and non-fiction titles. It’s not available for all books though.
Text to speech is included and the Kindle Touch also supports Audible files for downloading and listening to audio books via the speaker.
Amazon Kindle Touch: Verdict
We’re big fans of the Kindle. Over the years Amazon has tweaked the design to make it more portable and faster, while retaining the simplicity and consistently ensuring a fantastic user experience. But while the Kindle Touch is a great device, but we didn’t enjoy using it as much as the conventional Kindle.
Our main issue is the touchscreen, while it improves the navigation and browsing experience, we’re not sure it’s really necessary. Don’t get us wrong, the Kindle Touch is a fantastic device and many people will love the touchscreen, we just don’t think it’s any better than the non touchscreen Kindle, so unless you really, really want a touchscreen we’d suggest saving some money and going for the Kindle.
The Kindle Touch is out now, Kindle Touch WiFi is £109 and the Kindle Touch 3G is £169.