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Kindle

One of the fourth generation e-book readers developed by Amazon.com.

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Bare-bones Reading Machine

  • Nov 25, 2011
Rating:
+5
This is my third Kindle and over the years I've only gotten more and more satisfied with this simple and powerful reading device. I am still using the third generation Kindle (now known as Kindle Keyboard) and I got the latest device primarily for my wife's use. She's a Kindle newbie, and has for the longest time resisted going the e-reader way. However, after about a month of use she has come to appreciate the convenience and the ease of use of a Kindle. I have also used it, and have come away really impressed with the latest evolutionary step of my favorite reading device.

This year Amazon has introduced not one, but three different Kindles. With the two of the previous generation still available, there are now a total of five Kindles to choose from. You now have more options than ever in deciding what kind of Kindle is best suited for your reading and content-consumption needs. If you are just interested in a simple and straightforward reading device than this version of Kindle is a perfect choice for you.

**** Size and Weight ****

This is by far the smallest and lightest Kindle to date. The whole device is little more than a reading display with a large border around it. It is also very light, substantially lighter than Kindle Keyboard (which I already considered to be a really light reading device). Both of these features make this Kindle very easy to hold, and your hand will almost certainly not get tired even after hours of reading. However, some people prefer the sense of weight of ordinary books, so if this is something that you like than you may not find reading on a Kindle all that comfortable. The small size makes this also one of the most portable devices around. It is just slightly larger than some of the largest smartphones that re available today, and it can fit in a larger pants pocket. I still wouldn't recommend carrying around like that - Kindles tend to be rather fragile, and I've already lost one to the broken display.

**** Display Quality ****

The text contrast and the refresh speed for this Kindle are the same as for the previous generation. Amazon has gotten us used to the regular improvements in e-ink, so this was a bit of a disappointment. Nonetheless, both those features are very good and more than adequate for smooth, enjoyable reading experience.

**** Battery Life ****

The battery life of this device is outstanding. I have not charged it once since the first charging about a month ago. If you are an average reader you can go for months without recharging if you turn Wi-Fi off. This is an appropriate option for people who don't need to sync between different Kindles, who don't download new content frequently, and who don't share quotes and other updates online directly from Kindle.

**** Storage ****

This is another category where Amazon seems to have gone backward. It has reduced the internal storage from 4 GB (which is still available in Kindle Touch) to 2 GB. According to Amazon's calculations that is still sufficient for more than 1400 books, but in my experience that is a bit of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, you will certainly be able to put a thousand or so books onto this Kindle, which is more than you'll probably read in a lifetime. Since you can't put MP3 files onto this Kindle anyways (see below), it is highly unlikely that you will ever need more than 2 GB of internal storage.

**** Other Features ****

Well, there really aren't that many. This Kindle is more defined by what it lacks than what it offers. You can still browse the web, but without a physical keyboard this becomes very painful. Gone are the mp3 player, the headphones jack, and the speakers on the back. As already mentioned, gone is also the keyboard. If you don't have a need for writing frequent notes and comments in your books, than this is not much of a problem. The lack of keyboard is only annoying when you have to jump to a particular location in a book, in which case you have to use the virtual keyboard and the small joystick.

**** Ads ****

The version of Kindle that I got is the one that is ad-supported. In my opinion ads are very unobtrusive, and are only displayed in a narrow strip at the bottom of the home screen and as full-page ads in the sleep mode. So far most of the ads that I've seen have been completely irrelevant to me, but that may change in the future.

**** Other Considerations ****

Another thing that is missing from this Kindle is the power supply. I have several from the previous Kindles that I've owned, so this is not much of a problem for me. You can still charge your Kindle by plugging it into the USB port of your computer, and for fairly infrequent charging this is more than adequate. If you really like the convenience of a power plug, then you can buy one separately from Amazon.

**** Conclusion ****

This version of Kindle is the most rudimentary reading device that I've come across. It does just one thing and it does it really well. If you are an avid reader and don't care about all the bells and whistles that other Kindles have than this would be a great product for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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December 16, 2011
Thank you for this review; I have been wanting a Kindle but don't know much about them and you explained things for me. I would probably like an older model since I would love to have the MP3 player also. Can you tell me what is the price of downloading a book?
 
December 14, 2011
Nice! I've been reading a lot more this year than I have in previous years, so I've seriously been considering a Kindle, especially at this price point! Glad to hear that it delivers, and I love that it's the tiniest one. I bet it can fit in my purse. Thanks for sharing this!
August 03
The prices have come down substantially and the Kindle ebooks are actually about 25% of the price of the paper copy. The other advantage is that you don't have to accumulate stockpiles of paper and dust which make cleaning easier. Colleges and universities are starting to go the way of ebooks over those 2-3 pound texts people carry around on backpacks.
 
December 14, 2011
Good review of an interesting product !
 
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Bojan Tunguz ()
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I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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Wiki

Amazon announced the new lower-priced ($79 ad supported, $109 non-ad supported) version of the Kindle on September 28, 2011. This new version of the Kindle has five hard keys and a cursor pad but no keyboard; the device retains the 6 inch e-ink display of the previous Kindle model, in a slightly smaller and lighter form factor. The e-reader was initially made available in two sales versions, with the lower priced version displaying advertisements and other offers when in screensaver mode and on the home screen. The total flash storage is reduced to 2GB, and battery life to one month (from an estimated two months and 4GB for a Kindle Touch/Keyboard).
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