« Top Android apps and games of the week #51
Spice Stellar 520n review: attractive package, but less than stellar performance »

Amazon Kindle (2014) review: more than just a touch up

|December 23 2014 |Reviews, Amazon

"With its touchscreen display, the new Amazon Kindle is a big upgrade over its predecessor"

Amazon Kindle_4

Ever since Amazon introduced the Kindle Paperwhite (review), the regular Kindle, with its non-touchscreen display, started to feel very outdated. The differences in navigation, interface and ease-of-use became glaringly obvious, but for those on a tight budget, it was the only available option. That is, until earlier this year, when Amazon took the covers off the ultra-premium Kindle Voyage and the all-new Kindle. The Kindle Voyage is unfortunately not available in India yet, but the new Kindle is, and it's a major upgrade over its predecessor. With its touchscreen display, it's pretty much identical to the Paperwhite, minus the backlight. If you’re thinking of making the switch from paper, or just want to upgrade your old Kindle, read on to see if its worth the buy.

Paperwhite, minus the backlight

The new Kindle looks very similar to the Paperwhite, but features a plasticky material as opposed to the slightly rubberised finish of the Paperwhite. This difference becomes almost unnoticeable if you snap on one of the covers though, which we heartily recommend you do. It gets a thicker bezel at the bottom, and features the same trio of the the micro-USB port, power button and status LED on the bottom edge. 

Amazon Kindle_3

It's a tad thicker than the old Kindle at 10.2mm (as opposed to 8.7mm), and a bit heavier too at 191g (the previous Kindle weighed 170g). Despite the bulkier dimensions, it's still very comfortable to hold in one hand for long reading sessions. We should also point out that the new Kindle is actually lighter than the Paperwhite, which tips the scales at 206g for the Wi-Fi model, and 215g for the 3G variant. 

The touchscreen on the new Kindle is a delight to use after the previous model. It’s responsive, letting you switch between pages with a light tap, and good for reading under direct sunlight too. It’s a tad low on sharpness as compared to the Paperwhite – 167ppi vs 212ppi, but the difference is barely noticeable. It’s also worth noting that while the Paperwhite’s display uses Carta e-ink technology, the 2014 Kindle uses the older Pearl e-ink display. After using the Paperwhite for the last few months, the lack of a backlight was difficult to get used to, but for those of you upgrading from the previous-gen Kindle, it won't be a problem. Plus, Amazon offers a workaround of sorts with its Lighted Leather Cover, which features a built-in reading light. The only downside to using this is the price, which at Rs 3,699, is over half the price of the Kindle itself.

Amazon Kindle_5

The new Kindle has received a bump in hardware too. It now gets 4GB of built in storage, up from 2GB earlier, putting it on par with the Paperwhite. The storage isn’t expandable as always, but is sufficient to hold at least 2,000 e-books. Plus, Amazon offers unlimited cloud storage, so you can always store more books in the cloud. While the Paperwhite is available in a choice of Wi-Fi and 3G models, the new Kindle, like its predecessor, is available only in a Wi-Fi variant. Natively, it supports Amazon’s own Kindle format, as well as TXT, PDF, MOBI and PRC files. For any other formats, including E-PUB, you’ll have to use a third-party software such as Calibre for conversion. One of the highlights of the Kindle is its battery life, which lasts for weeks before requiring a recharge. In our experience, we found ourselves having to recharge the Kindle only after three weeks, factoring in an average of one hour of reading everyday. 

Unified interface

Amazon Kindle_2

With the new Kindle, Amazon is working to unify the interface across all its models. It gets all the usual Kindle software features, such as Freetime (set reading goals for your kids), Goodreads integration, X-Ray (find all instances where a character or term is mentioned), Vocabulary Builder (memorise words you've looked up with the dictionary), Notes and Highlight (add margin notes, and share via email or social networks), parental controls, and a built-in dictionary. The UI is the same too, with the homescreen displaying your personal library on the top half, and featured books, deals and offers from the Kindle Store at the bottom. Right on top you’ll find the toolbar which features the Home, Back, Kindle Store, Search, Goodreads, and Menu buttons. While reading a book, you simply need to tap at the very top of the screen to bring up this toolbar. Tapping on the left or right edge of the screen will let you navigate backwards or forwards in the book. Long-pressing any word will bring up its dictionary definition, while tapping and dragging your finger across a word or sentence lets you highlight it. It's a vast improvement over the interface in the previous Kindle, which feels cumbersome to use in retrospect. 


Verdict

Amazon Kindle_1

One of the key reasons why Amazon's Kindle e-readers are so popular are because of the vast ecosystem available to readers. The Kindle Store offers over 30,000 free titles, and books in Kindle format also tend to be much cheaper than their paperback or hardcover versions. Plus, with Amazon's regular deals and offers, you're very likely to find a good deal on a book if you wait long enough. The previous-gen Kindle offers you all these features too, but with its non-touchscreen display and clumsy navigation, doesn't feel the same. With the new Kindle, readers on a budget can get the same experience as Paperwhite users, minus the backlit display. At its price of Rs 5,999, you'll be hard-pressed to find a worthier option if your purse strings are tight. If you have change to spare though, we would still suggest you invest in the Paperwhite.


Price: Rs 5,999


Editor's Rating: 8 / 10


Pros:

  • Touchscreen display
  • Same interface as the Paperwhite
  • Storage doubled to 4GB 
  • Affordable


Cons

  • Slightly bulkier than the previous Kindle
  • No backlight



Comments (0) View All