The most compact Kindle yet. Extremely legible display, snappy performance
29 September, 2011
UPDATE: December 12, 2012: I had purchased the new Kindle Paperwhite thinking it would be a vast improvement over this Kindle. Well I had mixed opinions on it. You might want to read my review of the Paperwhite here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1Z0SDFOCZ66Z6/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
Bottom line is that the Kindle 6" E-ink Display is for the money an amazing product. Unless you really do a lot of reading in bed or in dark rooms, you don't need the Paperwhite at nearly twice the cost. I actually returned my Paperwhite due to all the screen issues. My review of the Paperwhite describes all you need to know.
UPDATE: September 17, 2012: New firmware is available for the Kindle. It is version 4.1.0 as I write this. It brings some notable improvements to the Kindle experience...
New features in this update include:
-Improved reading font that is higher contrast and crisper so that you can enjoy a paper-like reading experience.
-Parental Controls that allow you to restrict access to the Experimental Web Browser, Archived Items, and the Kindle Store.
-Support for books with complex layouts and formats with Kindle Format 8.
-Support for children's books with Kindle Text Pop-Up and comic books with Kindle Panel View (which allows you to read a comic book panel by panel). Books that support these features will be available in the Kindle store over the next few weeks.
-Dictionaries grouped into a collection in Home and Archived Items called "Dictionaries" for better organization.
Improved table and image viewing (panning and zooming) on supported titles.
The update is available from the Kindle Support area on amazon web site.
And now, back to my original review...
I was thrilled to receive my new Kindle. I ordered it Sep 28, chose overnight shipping and it arrived (Sep 29) just a few minutes ago. Usually I use a device for a while before reviewing it. In this case, I felt it was important to do a quick review right away because if it can help you in your purchasing decision, so much the better.
If you are a little perplexed with all the various Kindle models and are wondering if this Is the Kindle for you, here are a few questions for you to consider...
1. Do you need text to speech capability or have the desire to listen to mp3's on your Kindle? If you can live without that, then proceed. This Kindle does not have a speaker thus is not capable of text to speech or playing sounds of any kind including mp3's.
2. Is color important to you? This is not a color Kindle, it is gray-scale. If you are mostly wanting to read books then this will work for you exceedingly well. The e-ink screen is gorgeous, sharp and provides the ability to change font size, font face and line spacing. It even displays photos quite nicely, but in gray-scale. And you can even zoom in on images.
3. Is a physical keyboard a necessity for you? If you like to make notes and annotations while reading, you may want to look at another model Kindle that has a physical keyboard. Although this Kindle has a screen-based keyboard, it is tedious to type more than a few words or URL's. It works very well for minimal typing but it's not for you if you need more than that.
4. Is compact size important for you? Then this is the one to get. It's thin, light and diminutive in size. Slips easily into a purse, pocket or inside pocket. It is so light which makes holding and reading with one hand for longer periods of time very easy.
5. Do you want to be able to occasionally use a web browser to access a web site? Well surprise surprise, you can do that on this Kindle. It's an "experimental" feature but it works quite well. It's been experimental for years, so I'm not quite sure why it's still labeled experimental. But in any case you can visit websites, save bookmarks and it works.
I also own the original Kindle with the SD card slot. Compared to the original Kindle, this new one is svelte. Thinner, lighter and notably, the e-ink on this new Kindle is vastly improved. In low interior lighting with gray overcast lighting outside, I'm able to easily read the Kindle. It is amazing how the screen almost glows, as if it were backlit. Of course it is not backlit and in fact will not work in the dark. But if you have a small reading light, that solves that problem. Otherwise in most other situations you will pleased with the excellent sharpness and clarity of the Kindle text.
Page "turning" was very snappy to me especially when compared to my old Kindle. The black page flash that occurs on every page turn on the old Kindle does not occur nearly as frequently with the new Kindle. It now occurs after every 5 page turns.
The fact that there is no physical keyboard means that this Kindle is absolutely the easiest to carry Kindle ever. Fits nicely in the hand and the slightly grippy surface makes you feel secure in holding it... it will not easily slip out of your hand.
Setup was a breeze. The Kindle immediately identified my Wi-Fi network and as soon as I entered my password using the onscreen keyboard, I was good to go. Signal strength indicated very high on the Kindle and I did not notice any degradation in signal no matter how I handled it.
As concerns the onscreen keyboard, it was easy and intuitive to use. I don't expect to have to use it very often and for me I'd rather have no physical keyboard because that makes the Kindle smaller and easier to pack and go.
You still get the typical Kindle tools, such as Highlighting, Notes, Annotations, Public Notes and a few others. You can upload PDF and TXT files and view them. You can easily transfer prior Kindle purchases to your new Kindle. You have the ability to create "collections" Once you've created a collection, you add items to it and this is a great way to organize many books.
I have not had this model long enough to comment on battery life, but I'm sure that based on my previous Kindle and the specifications that it will excel. I believe that reading 1/2 hour a day will let you go a month before needing a charge if Wi-Fi is off. That's pretty awesome. It is charged via the included USB cable and that can be from your computer or via an AC to USB power adapter, or in-car power port USB adapter.
And don't worry that the memory has decreased in this Kindle. There is still more than enough memory to hold well over 1000 books. And you archive books too which means they are just a click and a few seconds away from being downloaded back to your Kindle from the Amazon Cloud.
Regarding the ads... they are not objectionable. In fact (don't tell this to the advertisers) I didn't even notice that there was an advertisement on the home screen until I deliberately looked for it. It takes up just a small portion of the bottom of the screen and is no taller than an inch in height. I don't know for sure whether all ads are the same size but the one I'm looking at is very unobtrusive. The screensaver ads are full page and don't bother me at all. And of course, you may just end up getting a good deal on something. I LIKE the ads. Just today I got a couple from an ad that saves me $5 on a $10 Amazon purchase in addition to my choice of a selected list of Mystery/Thriller books for only $1. Love the deals!
I think Amazon has another winner on its hands with this ad-supported Kindle. You just can't beat it for reading and I'm so glad I got it.
If you have any questions please leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them.
UPDATE: 10/16/2011 - I had the opportunity to compare the display of my new Kindle with that of a friends who had a Kindle with keyboard. I'm not sure how old his is, but his display actually had a somewhat lighter colored background which made the legibility slightly better in my opinion. I was quite happy with the clarity, sharpness and contrast of my new Kindle until I compared with him. Now I'm a little conflicted. It's still great, don't get me wrong, But it's not an improvement necessarily over the previous generation as far as I can tell. It's also possible that there are variations in the e-ink display depending on the luck of the draw. I may question Amazon about this and will report back here if I do. I'd still get this in a heartbeat, but just wanted to let you know about the contrast issue.
UPDATE: 10/17/2011 - There is a new firmware update for the Kindle that addresses the page refresh issue. The new version is 4.0.1 If installed, you will see an additional option in the Settings panel on page 3 called "Page Refresh." This allows you to have the Kindle refresh the page at each page turn (the screen flashes black briefly.) Otherwise the Kindle will not refresh the page until after each 5 page turns.
UPDATE: 10/19/2011 - I called Amazon Kindle Support to discuss the screen darkness issue I mentioned above. They said they'd send a replacement which I've just received. I'm happy to say that the screen background is in fact -slightly- lighter in color on the new Kindle I just received. I'm happy and probably would have still been happy had I not replaced it. But at least I am psychologically satisfied now. The difference in background color was extremely subtle so I wouldn't worry at all about it if you are happy with your newly purchased $79 Kindle. However there do seem to be some circulating that are more obviously darker and if yours is one of those, then contact Amazon.
UPDATE: 12/6/2011 - Wow, the way these specials offers are going, this Kindle is going to end up being free. I just got another $10 Amazon gift card for $5 the other day. Plus a free Audible Audiobook and 50% off a Kindle cover. Loving the special offers.