Amazon Kindle: E-Ink for the masses

The latest e-reader from Amazon, simply named – Kindle – was announced in September alongside with the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire. Even though Kindle is the most affordable e-reader out there, it is also the most basic model of the three, so there’s very little room for mistakes here. Did Amazon successfully deliver what it promised with the new Kindle?

The fourth generation e-reader from the world’s largest online retailer feels extremely light in hands, and is incredibly pocketable, being just slightly bigger than an A6 page. According to Amazon, it’s 30% lighter and 18% smaller than its predecessor, the Kindle 3, while still retaining the same 6 inch screen size.

The noticeable trade-off, however, is the absence of a dedicated QWERTY keyboard. This might be a very important factor especially for users who plan to frequently write notes or use the built-in Oxford American Dictionary. For those who wish to have a physical keyboard without having to sacrifice the compact size of the reader, Amazon also offers the slightly more expensive option with the Kindle Touch. It incorporates the same qualities of the Kindle but with the added versatility of having a touch sensitive screen.

The dedicated shortcut keys under the screen of Kindle are decently sized and easy to press. The d-pad occupies the center area and works fine in most situations. However, using it to navigate around the on-screen keyboard to type anything longer than a single word can get very tiresome relatively quickly. On either side of the screen there are 2 lengthy key bars that are used for navigating between pages.

And, finally, on the bottom edge of the e-reader, there’s also a slightly raised power key along with a small light indicator that is sandwiched by a microUSB port on the other side. In similar fashion to mobile phones, the port is utilized both for charging and syncing the e-reader with a computer.

The back cover of Kindle is rubberized, which helps maintaining a solid grip around the e-reader if you’re not keen on using a special protective case. Incidentally, the surface of the reader is quite resistant to stains and smaller scratches. Overall, the construction quality is surprisingly high when considering the relatively low price of the Kindle.

The main attraction of Kindle is, of course, its amazing display technology. The E-Ink (electrophoretic ink) is a something one should behold in real life to better grasp the brilliance behind this technology. One of its main strengths is the high contract ratio along with very low energy consumption in comparison to the traditional LCD screens used in mobile phones and tablets. Furthermore, the E-Ink display also remains thoroughly visible under direct sunlight. Needless to say, reading on an e-ink display for extended period of time will present considerably less eye strain.

The drawback of e-ink can be associated to that of a traditional paper. Mainly, the display isn’t backlight, which means you’ll need to invest in a special case with integrated lighting for your Kindle if you wish to read in low light areas.

Other than the dimensions and design of the new Kindle reader, the display quality remains virtually the same as with the previous reader from Amazon. The screen offers the same 600 x 800 pixel resolution which means the text is incredibly sharp and easy to read, and it won’t take long before the reader becomes completely immersed in the material he’s reading.

Adding books to Kindle is incredibly easy. The e-reader comes pre-installed with the Amazon Kindle Store where users can browse a huge selection books, and download them over the wi-fi connection. To store content, Amazon has provided the reader with 2GB of memory, which, sadly, is not expandable. If you happen to use the Kindle app on other devices such as smartphones or even PC, all purchased content and bookmarks will get seamlessly synced up with the e-reader.

Surprisingly enough, Amazon also included a web browser on the Kindle. While it offers a very basic functionality, and the speed leaves a lot to be desired, the browser remains quite usable if the user is content with viewing web pages rendered in grayscale.

The e-readers are here to stay, it seems. They are becoming increasingly compact, armed with an amazing display quality and lengthy battery lives. Being able to carry a huge library stored in a single device that weight little more than a standard paperback book is an obvious advantage, especially for avid readers. Fortunately, the new Amazon Kindle neatly covers all of those essential points, and its affordable price means this is an excellent package for those who are simply looking for a solid e-reader.

Comments are closed.