Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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Am-azing No-Frills E-Reader!
Amazon Kindle 4
Member Name: Novabug
Amazon Kindle 4
Advantages: Light, Stylish, Clear to read, simple and easy to operate. Low cost for high quality.
Disadvantages: No Touch-screen. Relatively low capacity. No included Power Adaptor
Many people over the recent festive period would have had found a flat A4 sized parcel waiting for them under the tree, and all would in no doubt be avid book readers. One of the most popular presents since Buzz Lightyear, the new Amazon Keyboard-less Kindle has been gifted to many happy bookworms this year, and I am no exception, courtesy of my wonderful girlfriend! Marketed at being slimmer, easier to read, faster and cheaper, Amazon make a lot of bold boasts about it. So after nearly four weeks of using it, here are my thoughts on this top-class E-book reader.
--All the Hardbock Books will Become Kindle(ing)?--
It's surprising to think that the Kindle has actually been around for 4 years, but has only in the last year or some became so popular. Of course, competition in the form of E-readers made by the likes of Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Samsung have become stronger, and to a lesser degree Apple's iPad with it's E-reader application. Even so, just like a vacuum cleaner is referred too as a 'Hoover', dedicated E-readers of all types are getting to be known as 'Kindles', thus paying homage to Amazon's success. The E-book is certainly here for good now, but unlike how DVD's replaced VHS, I don't think it will be the end of printed books for many, many decades. The E-reader will coexist happily as a portable accompaniment for a big reader, but I'm sure a good old book won't be far away. (Many books are yet to be converted to Ebook, and many more may not be at all).This latest version of the Kindle is Amazon's 4th generation model, and is the slimmest, lightest and cheapest of all the previous versions.
Designed and manufactured by Amazon's electrical producer Lab126, the Kindle has been around since 2007 in the USA, and came to the UK in late 2008. There are different versions available, some with 3G for instance, and the former Kindle 3 became known as the Kindle Keyboard (due to it's incorporated simple qwerty keyboard). This forth version differs in many ways, but keeps the primary aspect of a dedicated E-reader, a screen that is as easy to look at as printed paper. This is a big difference from reading a book off a tablet computer like an iPad, as you are still staring at a LCD screen, and the associated eye strains that make you lose concentration. E-readers don't have this problem, and the Kindle is a perfect example.
--Cost and Packaging--
This new Kindle comes to you in a plain flat cardboard box with a jaunty angle at one end, very reminiscent of the packaging Amazon send DVD's to you in. It even has a tear off strip to open the box. The Kindle is well protected inside sitting in an insert, with instructions and USB cable tucked behind. It's a solid and neat piece of packaging, just the title printed on it, and is all full recyclable.It's the simplification, and the slight cutting down on materials that makes this Kindle the most affordable yet. At £89, I personally think this is a great price and is affordable to many people on a budget but still love their reading. The price may come down even further too, as competitors, like Barnes & Noble are doing subscription deals on their Nook Simple E-reader. Unlike the US version, the UK edition does not place advertising on the screen savers either. So the price is right, but what qualities are being lost?
--Design And Durability--
I think all E-readers have a certain amount of extra thought gone into the exterior design over that of tablet computers. Books have covers for a reason, so E-readers need to look smart and stylish. This Kindle is in a two-tone graphite grey, with rear cover and button all alternate to the main body dark shade of grey. The screen fills most of the front, and this is nice as there is little surround and a lot of clear room for your chosen text. All the edges are smoothed and rounded, with only the page-turn buttons giving a slightly hard edge. These two buttons are on both sides of the unit, the forward button the larger of the two. The operation buttons mounted under the screen are separated, not too small and easy to use. The icons on each button may however be too small and non-understandable however. The multi-directional control, which replaces the keyboard on the older model, is also well positioned and designed. I have read reports that some users dislike this control method, but I don't find it to be a problem. Although the unit turns itself into standby mode, the standby button is located on the bottom edge, which can be a little fiddly. The USB connection is also here too. As a unit, I think the whole thing looks stylish, simple but attractive, and doesn't perturb a book reader who may not be familiar to such technology.
At first, when picking up this Kindle, you may be mistaken for it being a toy of some sort and not a modern E-book reader. It is so light, lighter than many books, and also very slim, just over half a centimetre. You do feel it could snap easily if you tried to bend it, so I wouldn't recommend riding a bike with it in your back pocket, as the TV ad suggests. It's far stronger than it looks though, and would take a serious effort to actually snap it. It's all put together very tightly, with no slight rattling buttons or mis-aligned panels, even though the quality of the plastics maybe be a tad dubious. The most delicate part would be the screen, which does have the appearance and feel that it could damage easily, certainly getting liquid or food of any sort on it would not be the best idea. That said, it does tolerate the general handling with ease, and is easy to wipe clean without issues.
--Usability and Performance--
As it has shown since the advent of Ebooks, seasoned readers from the older generation have taken them more to heart than the younger tech-savvy generation, so making the operation a simple experience is a key thing in designing an E-reader. The new Kindle does this very well, even without a keyboard or touch-screen. The controls are straightforward, with no menus upon menus system, it's select, search, read in a very easy manner. The forward arrows turn a page forward, the home button take you instantly to the title menu, and the keyboard button brings up the keyboard, all in one tap. Setting up the Kindle (Wi-Fi connection, linking with Amazon account etc) would be the only slight worry for someone new to these pieces of kit, but the on screen help pages, both on the Kindle, small guidebook and Amazon website all help a lot. My mother of 69 found using hers very easy the moment she picked it up, and this was even a surprise to me!
The reading experience the Kindle provides is wonderful, and the ability the find a book you haven't read in ages, or a new one that may be of your interest and download it instantly is terrific. The screen, in my view, is like a magical window. It's a grey-scale screen, but is it? It's so clear and sharp, it's like a page of the printed book has been glued to the front, you forget that it's not actually a real book after a while. Handling the Kindle become second nature quickly, and there never worry about losing your page. Turn it off, and when you turn it back on, your last page re-appears.
The battery life on the Kindle is long. With a fully charged battery, it can last up to a month claim Amazon. I charged mine on Christmas Day, and didn't need to charge it again until the second week on January, and it wasn't even showing low power. Plenty of life in it then. When is does require charging, the bundled USB cable can charge it from your computer. For charging from a wall socket, you will need an adapter that Amazon supply separately for around £12.99. I feel that a bit cheeky, it should be in the package in the first place for me. (If you have a new Blackberry adaptor, it's exactly the same though...)
Unlike an LCD computer screen or a mobile device, the Kindle 'blacks out' for a split second when changing pages or menu's. This is alarming at first, you may think this is a fault, but it's not, and it all happens so quickly you barely notice this after a while. It's loads books very quickly, and can change pages rapidly. The menu's are slightly slower, but the search facility is surprisingly quick and rather strict too. This depends on your Wi-Fi connection of course. (This is a non-3G version Kindle, to keep the cost down). You can group your books together, makes notes and bookmark pages too. Books can be downloaded directly, or sent from your Amazon account, which automatically sets up a Kindle account for you. This is also very quick and simple to do.
As the price suggests, this Kindle has a mere 2GB of storage memory available. I'm not sure how many total books this equates too, that depends on the file type and length, but it stores more than 1000 books, surely enough to keep many people happy. You can store books on a free application for your computer, (or simply drag and drop) if the Kindle does reach it's memory limit though. The screen is not lit, and so need a certain amount of light to read clearly, and as I have said already, there is no touch-screen interface. The new Kindle Touch has this and a little more memory, (4GB), at a £30 increase in cost I believe.
Amazon have the largest selection of Ebooks available, and are in the Unique Kindle format, but you can load other common Ebook formats onto the Kindle via third parties or manually. It will not read EPUB files, but these can be converted by Amazon with another free piece of software, or you can find many free applications that do the same around the internet. Some classic books still are to receive an Ebook conversion too, so not every book you would like may be available, on Amazon or otherwise.
Screen Display - 600x800 (6") E-Ink Pearl Technology
Dimensions - H 6.5" (166mm) x L 4.5" (114mm) x D 0.34" (8.7mm)
Weight - 6 ounces (170g) Approx
Battery - 890mAh 3.7 V
Processor - Freescale i.MX50-series Cortex A8 SoC, 800MHz,
Wireless - Atheros AR6103, up to 72.2 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. WEP, WPA AND WPA2 all supported
RAM - 256MB
Storage Memory- 2GB
Supports TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, and PRC files natively, After conversion - HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.
There are many E-readers out there in the market, and the Kindle is a big player. With this new budget version, E-books are now available to many more people who were ether daunted by using a device like this, or couldn't justify the cash outlay. At £89, this is a certain bargain and a winner all round. Although critics say that Kobo and Barnes & Noble provide excellent E-readers, possibly better than the Kindle, I cannot see any major faults in this neat, smart and, rather nifty manuscript of the 21st century. Many people seem to agree with me too, as I have seen so many people, Kindle 4 in hand on their way to work in my day job.
Although it does have limits, these for me don't take away the superb attributes it does have. If touch-screen is your must have thing, by all means shell out an extra £30 for the touch version, but it's not really needed for me in such a device. It's not for games, social networking or writing reviews even, it's for reading books, plain and simple. An excellent E-reader for me, and something which has welcomed me back into reading more again, and also, given me a push to one day have my own works on that clever E-ink screen.
Thanks for Reading. © Novabug
Summary: A very fine and well priced E-reader for all generations. A Kindly Kindle!
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