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Ama­zon, $189 ama­ ★★★★

IT’S not a tablet, but it bor­rows tablet fea­tures. Ama­zon’s most ad­vanced e-book reader ditches but­tons, throws away its key­board and de­liv­ers a touch­screen in­stead.

The Kin­dle Touch 3G, the fourth to reach Aus­tralia, has fur­ther tricks up its sleeve. It is 11 per cent smaller and 8 per cent lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor, has a clearer Elec­tronic Ink screen and can be used right out of the box. Those div­ing into its menus will ap­pre­ci­ate a new speaker that lets the Kin­dle read to them, and Wikipedia and Google searches.

While this Kin­dle has re­ceived a tech­no­log­i­cal over­haul, it doesn’t feel too dif­fer­ent and its 220g will go un­no­ticed in your hand dur­ing long read­ing ses­sions or in your bag.

Turn it on, how­ever, and old users may need help to nav­i­gate that new touch­screen.

Its screen is split into three touchy ar­eas: one large land­ing pad on right side, a small col­umn down the left, and a bar up top. Users tap the right area to turn a page, the left to turn back and the top area to get its menu. A ‘‘ home’’ but­ton shows its list of books. This new touchy-feely ap­proach makes it very easy to nav­i­gate books and Ama­zon’s vir­tual book­store, al­though menu op­tions can be con­fus­ing at first.

The touch­screen can also be used to look up words in its dic­tio­nary (by hold­ing a fin­ger on a word), to en­gage text-to-speech that reads books out loud, to change the font or font size, and to per­form web searches us­ing its in­cluded 3G in­ter­net con­nec­tion.

De­spite th­ese extras, its bat­tery will still run for up to two months with 3G off.

Un­for­tu­nately, Aus­tralians don’t get the dis­counts af­forded by Ama­zon’s spon­sored Kin­dles and face a more lim­ited e-book range. But the de­vice de­liv­ers a sim­ple and com­fort­able way to read large tomes.


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