Ama­zon Kin­dle (2016)

PC Advisor - - REVIEWS - Henry Bur­rell

Let’s not mince our words – Ama­zon makes the best e-read­ers. The Kin­dle is nine years old, and in that time we have now ar­rived at this, the eighth it­er­a­tion of every­one’s favourite, cheap­est dig­i­tal means of read­ing a book. The Kin­dle Oa­sis may have caused a stir by be­ing in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive at £269, so what has Ama­zon changed on this, the ‘All-new’ Kin­dle?

De­sign

Only those spoilt by the ridicu­lous lux­ury of the Kin­dle Oa­sis will baulk in any way at the build qual­ity here. Sure, its cheaper plas­tic cas­ing isn’t top of the line, but the Kin­dle’s sim­plic­ity is its se­cret weapon. There are no dis­trac­tions; it has touch­screen in­put, no back­light and just one phys­i­cal but­ton (sleep/wake/ off). When you’re read­ing a book, you can’t get much sim­pler than the page and a blank white bor­der. It’s just like (whis­per it) a book.

At first we were scep­ti­cal about the white model, but it’s ac­tu­ally very in­of­fen­sive. If any­thing, it’s more com­fort­able to read as it is closer to the white of a page, whereas some black Kin­dles give the feel­ing of a boxed-in screen, which is best to avoid in order to get lost in the lat­est John Le Carré.

The new Kin­dle mea­sures 160x115x9.1mm. This is ac­tu­ally smaller than the Kin­dle Paper­white and only 1.4mm thicker than the Kin­dle Voy­age. Like ev­ery one of Ama­zon’s e-read­ers, the screen mea­sures six inches di­ag­o­nally. It’s also the sec­ond light­est Kin­dle in the range at 161g – the only lighter model is the Oa­sis, and even that is heav­ier when you’ve got the bat­tery cover at­tached.

The new Kin­dle is se­ri­ously svelte, with a flat back com­pared to the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion’s an­gled cas­ing. We could fit the new model into the in­side pocket of a coat, but it’s not phone sized, so don’t try shov­ing it in your jeans. In short, you’ll strug­gle to find a bet­ter-de­signed e-reader at this price. It is quite plas­ticy, though. Then again, it’s made of plas­tic.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

As men­tioned, the screen is six inches across di­ag­o­nally, but where the Kin­dle’s low price point does show slightly is in the res­o­lu­tion. The pixel den­sity is 167ppi, whereas all the other pricier Kin­dles have 300ppi. In re­al­ity though, this doesn’t mat­ter. We pow­ered through a novel with no leg­i­bil­ity prob­lems on the new e-reader.

It’s great to see Ama­zon keep the touch­screen func­tion­al­ity from the last gen­er­a­tion on the 2016 model. Tak­ing away the but­tons from its de­sign gives the Kin­dle one sim­ple task – dis­play the book. You can tap any­where on the screen (bar the ex­treme left and top) to turn the page. Tap­ping on the far left, or swip­ing back like you might on

a tablet takes you back a page. It’s in­tu­itive and works ev­ery time.

The touch in­put method is also nec­es­sary to use the Kin­dle Store and some of the e-read­ers’ fea­tures. Tap at the top of the screen at any time and you’re given a menu bar. From here you can go to the home screen, set­tings or the Kin­dle Store, as well as Goodreads, the fea­ture where you can share and read re­views of books in your li­brary with friends and the wider Kin­dle com­mu­nity.

You can also search through the book you have open. The touch con­trols make this far eas­ier to do than on pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions with but­tons. It’s also easy to book­mark and fold over pages, which is handy if you’re the only one at book club with a Kin­dle and you want to ear­mark cer­tain pas­sages.

The Kin­dle keeps the price down again by only be­ing avail­able with Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity, so if you want to be able to down­load books on the go over 3G, you’ll have to opt for the Paper­white at least. Here, Wi-Fi al­lows you to down­load books, and also share pas­sages to Face­book and Twit­ter, though this fea­ture is rather clunky.

The best rea­son to keep Wi-Fi on is be­cause it syncs where in the book you’re up to with your other de­vices. If you for­get your e-reader on the com­mute, the Kin­dle app on your smart­phone will sync to the ex­act page you have reached.

Keep­ing Wi-Fi on will af­fect the bat­tery life, though. With it turned off, the 2016 Kin­dle will last for at least a month be­tween charges. This is stan­dard for a Kin­dle, but re­mains out­stand­ing given how we are all used to charg­ing our phones at least once a day. Bookworms will be in heaven – you could go on a three-week hol­i­day and not even take the charger with you.

There are other good fea­tures such as in­stant trans­la­tion of words and the X-Ray fea­ture that lets you, in some books, view char­ac­ter de­scrip­tions and im­por­tant pas­sages to re­mind you of events. It’s also the first Kin­dle to ship with built-in Blue­tooth for the vis­ually im­paired. Called VoiceView, it’s good to see Ama­zon in­clud­ing it – un­for­tu­nately we couldn’t test it as we didn’t have the right ac­ces­sories.

Weirdly, the big­gest com­pli­ment we can pay the Kin­dle is that we didn’t re­ally use any of these sec­ondary fea­tures. Within min­utes of tak­ing our re­view unit out of the box we’d down­loaded a book and were read­ing away with­out look­ing at any in­struc­tions. Its sim­plic­ity and cheap price (com­pared to the rest of the range) are the rea­sons it works so well.

Ver­dict

If you are new to the e-reader game or if your bat­tered five-year old Kin­dle is start­ing to show its age, then this is the per­fect choice. The 2016 Kin­dle does the ba­sics just as well as the Kin­dle Oa­sis, which costs £200 more. Why not spend £200 on books in­stead? We highly rec­om­mend the en­try-level Kin­dle if you don’t need a back­light and you want a clean, easy read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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