I’ve reviewed several Kindle e-book readers over the last five years, and the one I keep coming back to is the Paperwhite (review). It’s always been at the top of my list to recommend, and with the latest upgrade adding waterproofing and an edge-to-edge display to the mix, now feels like a complete package. For many users though, the entry-level Kindle is the default choice, thanks to its affordable price tag. While the base Kindle does the job, it’s always been lacking due to the omission of a light. Now, that’s changed too, with Amazon launching an All-new Kindle with a built-in light. At its asking price of Rs 7,999, it sits between the base Kindle and the Paperwhite. To find out if it meets the mark, I’ve been using it as my primary e-reader over the last couple of weeks.

Design and display

All-New Kindle_4

The All-new Kindle feels very lightweight and compact – at 174g it’s easy to hold and use with one hand, and with a thickness of 8.7mm, it’s also noticeably slimmer than the base Kindle, which measures 9.1mm around the waist. You can get it in black or white colours, although I much prefer the former. The only ports and buttons on the device are a power button, a micro-USB charging port and LED charging indicator, located on the bottom edge. Unlike the new Paperwhite which features a flush display, the screen on the All-new Kindle is recessed, which makes tapping the edge of the screen for page turns a less fluid experience. Like the older Kindle, the recessed edges will also tend to collect dirt and grime over time.

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The screen features the same 6-inch size as the Kindle and Paperwhite. The new addition here of course is the built-in light, which is enabled by four LEDs (vs five on the Paperwhite). The intensity of the light can be controlled via a slider on the screen, but don’t expect auto brightness – that’s a feature reserved solely for the flagship Oasis (review). The light is a huge gamechanger for the All-new Kindle – I find it makes the screen much more readable even in daylight, and reduces eye-strain too. Unfortunately, the screen resolution hasn’t received a bump from the base Kindle, and it’s very apparent after having used higher-end models. With a pixel density of 167ppi, the screen is noticeably less sharp compared to the Paperwhite’s 300ppi. You can tell the difference when you look at the homepage, especially with smaller text and cover art. If you’re the type who reads graphic novels on the Kindle, this one is a definite no-no. The lower resolution isn’t a deal breaker though, with pages inside a book looking perfectly crisp and readable.

Software and performance

All-New Kindle_9

The software features of Kindles remain the same across models, so you get Goodreads and Whispersync integration, X-Ray, Notes and Word Wise. You can also customise the look and feel of the page layout with a range of fonts and themes. The inverted black and white display feature on the new Paperwhite and Oasis is missing though. Audible integration isn’t available yet either, although that’s the case for all Kindles in India. One thing I did notice is that the touchscreen on the All-new Kindle isn’t as sensitive as the Paperwhite, with page turns occasionally seeming sluggish or going undetected when I tapped the screen.

All-New Kindle_5
The new Kindle comes in only a Wi-Fi variant, unlike the higher-end models which are also available in cellular options. The storage is set at 4GB, which is enough to hold a couple of thousand books. Battery life is also great – Amazon estimates it at a few weeks. I’ve been reading on it every day for the last two weeks or so, and there’s still about 50 percent charge left, with airplane mode enabled.

Verdict

All-New Kindle_8With the All-new Kindle, Amazon is adding yet another device to its e-reader range. And even though there are plenty of reasons to recommend the Paperwhite over this model, the bottom line is that the new Kindle is yet another option for consumers, and options are good. At Rs 7,999, it’s a fair premium over the base Kindle, which retails at Rs 5,999. Whether you choose to pay the difference is up to you, but know that a backlit display will make a world of difference to your reading experience.

Editor’s Rating: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Built-in light
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Lower-resolution screen
  • Recessed display
  • Occasionally sluggish page-turns
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