This has been a big week for Amazon with all of their new Kindle announcements. Most of the attention has been focused on their new Kindle Fire which is being described as a potential iPad killer, but the Kindle Fire won’t be released until November. That said, it isn’t just the Kindle Fire that is news this week, Amazon has also come out with a 4th generation of their Kindle. With a price tag of just $79, this latest generation of the Amazon Kindle is the most affordable Kindle ever. But that doesn’t mean that it lacks in quality.
The new 4th generation Amazon Kindle is quite adorable and petite. Amazon has abandoned the dedicated QWERTY keyboard for this model of the Kindle, and we can’t say that it’s really missed. As a result, the device is more pocket friendly than ever. But if you really insist on having a keyboard, Amazon is offering the Kindle Keyboard starting at $99 with Special Offers.
As a matter of fact, weighing less than 6 ounces, this new Kindle is 30% lighter than the previous generation Kindle. The Kindle is so light that we find it comfortable to hold in one hand for long periods of time. Heck, it’s lighter than many books! Measuring 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″, the Kindle also has an 18% smaller body than the previous generation Kindle, yet it still packs in a 6-inch display. Speaking of the display, it packs in a 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, with 16-level gray scale. Of-course, this E-Ink display works great in sunlight.
A USB 2.0 cable is included for charging the device. It takes about three hours to fully charge the device and after that it can last up-to a month on a single charge. Out of the box, the Kindle is automatically linked to your Amazon account on purchase, although you can easily register the device with a different account.
Below the display there is a back button, keyboard button, a 4 way navigation button, a menu button and a home button. At the right and left side of the device there are dedicated next page and previous page buttons, while the power switch is located at the bottom of the device, near the USB connector.
This latest Kindle model is the cheapest Kindle you can get. But if you want to spend a little more, you can get the Kindle Touch which packs in a touchscreen. We would like to have a touchscreen, but the user interface on 4th generation Kindle still operates quite efficiently without a touchscreen. This user interface is generally pretty peppy. Page turns are also pretty fast.
Because this Kindle lacks a dedicated keyboard, you’ll have to use the systems onscreen keyboard when inputting text. In practice, you can input text with the onscreen keyboard pretty quickly since the system is responsive. Still, you won’t want to use the onscreen keyboard for any serious note taking, but it isn’t all that inefficient to use either.
We tested out the $79 Kindle with Special Offers, which means that the device comes with Special Offers and a Sponsored Screensavers display. For $109 you can pick up the Kindle without Special Offers. We were hesitant about what it would be like to use a device that comes littered with ads, but it turns out that the Special Offers on the $79 model doesn’t really degrade the reading experience much at all. For starters, the offers don’t show up while you’re reading. They do however show up as screensavers when the device isn’t in use, or as little ads that run along the bottom of your home screen. Fortunately we find the ads to be unobtrusive. They are kind of like a banner ad on a web site. The Special Offers are actually targeted towards your location. For example, my Kindle showed an offer for a discount voucher at a local supermarket chain.
The latest Kindle also packs in plenty of features, some new and old – including free cloud backup for all of your purchases, free book samples, storage for up-to 1,400 books at a time on the device, free out-of-Copyright Books, adjustable text sizes, the ability to view PDF and Personal Documents, you can rotate the screen to landscape, there is Whispersync technology for synchronizing your last page read, bookmarks and annotations across your devices, and more.
The Kindle also comes with an “experimental” section which is actually a full fledged web browser! Yes, you can browse the internet on this $79 Kindle, and it isn’t a bad experience either! Web sites load up quite quickly and they render pretty nicely too. This hardly makes the Kindle a replacement for a tablet, but having a web browser onboard is certainly a great little feature to have thrown in. After all, you never know when you’ll need to check your mail or load up a website.
Based on its price-point alone, this latest generation of the Amazon Kindle is truly a game-changer. The device is also super lightweight, compact, and pocket-friendly. And despite its budget price point, it’s also well made and packs in a great E-Ink display. This could arguably be the best budget e-reader ever. As for the Special Offers, fortunately, they are pretty unobtrusive. Overall, the 4th generation Kindle is a high quality, and feature-rich device with access to a massive ebook catalog, so how can you go wrong at $79?
That said, if you can stand to wait, we would wait for the Kindle Touch to arrive. For $99, the Kindle Touch with Special Offers is basically a suped-up version of the Kindle that manages to pack in a multitouch display, plus it packs in text-to-speech and audio playback for books and MP3s. However, weighing 7.5 ounces, it adds a bit of weight.
The Good: Lightweight and pocket-friendly; solid build quality; easy to use interface; cheap price tag; Easy to use – even without a touchscreen; fast page turns; feature rich.
The Bad: Would be nice to have a touchscreen, but at this price you can hardly complain