Amazon’s Kindle needs no introduction. It has transformed the way many people read books, and while it has plenty of rivals, it’s by far the most popular e-book reader device available. Amazon has recently launched some new Kindles. The all-colour Fire tablet may have attracted the most attention – though it’s not yet available in the UK – but the new £89 Kindle could be the one that puts the most dents in its rivals.
Smallest Kindle yet
The new Kindle is even lighter, slimmer and more pocket-friendly than its predecessor was. It weights 170g, which is 30 per cent lighter than the keyboarded Kindle (now known as the Kindle Keyboard 3G, incidentally). And its body is 18 per cent smaller. At 116x114x9mm, it will slip into larger pockets really nicely.
The smaller size has been achieved in part because the physical keyboard has been removed. You can call up an on-screen keyboard with the press of a front button and use it, rather awkwardly, with the navigation pad beneath the screen. You’ll use the keyboard for things like searching for text and writing notes, and the process is laboured. The screen bezel is also reduced in size a little, though those handy side-mounted forward and back buttons remain in place for paging through text.
Meanwhile, the screen measures 6in just as in the keyboarded kindle giving you the same viewing area as before. The battery life has been slashed in half so that with this new Kindle you’ll get up to a month of use, as opposed to two months from the Kindle Keyboard 3G. And storage space is reduced too, from 4GB to 2GB, with option to extend it using a flash memory card. Still, 2GB is enough for about 1,400 books – which should be plenty for most people.
There’s no 3G on the new Kindle, but it will hook up to Wi-Fi for downloading books, and the Whispersync system synchronises your last read page, bookmarks and annotations with other devices so you can pick up the Android, iPad or PC versions and carry on where you left off.
Sticking to the basics
The new Kindle, like its predecessors, doesn’t offer the ability to play music, though it does include an experimental web browser that does a reasonable job over Wi-Fi on the E-Ink screen. The basics of reading are assisted by a range of eight font sizes and three styles. There’s also a dictionary included, which is invoked simply by using the navigation button to move through text and highlight a word.
The lack of new features means existing users won’t want to switch Kindle models – doing so would be a downgrade not an upgrade. But we get the feeling that’s not what the new Kindle is about. It’s designed to entice those who thought the older model was too expensive. And in that, it may well succeed.
- Attractive price; small size.
- No 3G; reduced memory and battery life over predecessor model.
There's nothing here to make existing users want to swap their Kindle for this one, and if you want 3G and the keyboard you can still buy the older Kindle version with its keyboard for £149. However, we have to take our hats off to Amazon. A lower price, and reduction in features most people won't mind make this new Kindle attractive.