Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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Amaz-ing E-reader from Amazon
Amazon Kindle 4
Member Name: Ainat
Amazon Kindle 4
Date: 26/01/12, updated on 29/06/13 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Light, user friendly, great to read from
Disadvantages: None really
Many people by now will have heard of the Amazon Kindle - the electronic book reader. The older version (with the keyboard) has been out a little while now. The Kindle 4 (or just 'Kindle' as it as now known with the keyboard version being aptly renamed to 'Kindle Keyboard') was released just over a year ago now - October 2011. Amazon have recently released an updated version - which looks identical to the Kindle 4, but is supposed to be a bit faster, and is actually cheaper. With this new latest version you also have the option of 'black' as well as 'graphite' whereas with the older Kindle 4 graphite was your only option. The older keyboard-less version of the kindle is the version I own (Kindle 4), and thus the one I am reviewing. I am not the most technically minded of people, so this review is written from my personal perspective, not a techy one!
I was definitely one of the sceptical book lovers out there. 'The Kindle will never replace a book; it's just not the same'. I like the feel of a book, and I hate reading for too long a period of time off of a computer screen. I thought reading off of a kindle would be similar. After actually seeing a kindle screen on a demo model in a shop I was beginning to be converted. 'It does look like a page, not a screen!'. I still wasn't sure that I actually wanted one or would use one though.
About a week after the Kindle 4 was released my fiancé decided to surprise me with a present. I was about to go away for a week, which involved going on a 5 hour train journey each way, and was trying to decide what books I was going to take for the trip. I still hadn't decided a couple of nights before. I got in from work and he presented me with the kindle.
=== Pricing and Packaging ===
My kindle was a present, but I do know the cost was £89. The Kindle Keyboard is £149, and in comparison I would say that £89 is a decent price for the Kindle. However, as I mentioned above, Amazon have done themselves proud and reduced the price of the Kindle to £69 - even better value for money!
The Kindle comes in a cardboard box similar to that that Amazon post out their orders in if you order a book or DVD. It's basically a small-ish rectangular box, but angled at one end. It's easy to open - there is a pull tag thing. In my opinion, not too much packaging - always a good thing. In the box you get the kindle, a small instruction leaflet (telling you how to first set up your kindle) and a USB cable for connecting it to a PC or laptop (you also use this to charge the kindle).
=== So, I've got my Kindle. Now What? ===
I will give Amazon credit where it's due. The kindle is one of the easiest gadgets I've ever had to set up. Simply switched it on, connected it to the wi-fi (easy to do, the steps are outlined in the leaflet) and connect it to your Amazon account. Once this has been done any books that you buy from Amazon will be downloaded on to your kindle within seconds if the kindle is connected to wi-fi. If the kindle is not connected to wi-fi at the moment you purchase a book it will download automatically next time it is connected. You can do all of this without the need for a computer. Simples.
On the kindle itself there is a full instruction manual, an English dictionary, and an American-English dictionary. You will also receive a 'letter' once you have linked the kindle with your Amazon account.
=== Actually Using the Kindle ===
I personally download books by looking online using my laptop first, buying the book online on the laptop, and then letting the kindle pick up the books. You can do this without a computer though by searching using the kindle itself when you are in a wi-fi area. This is simple enough to do, but I personally find it easier to actually search using the laptop. To search using the kindle though you can use the keyboard that you can bring up on screen and select the letters that you are wanting to type.
Book prices vary, as in the 'real paper world'. There are thousands of books you can access for free - these tend to be older classics. I think (but I'm not 100% sure) that a book by an author that has been dead over 80 years is free due to the copyright legislations. Even if you're paying for the books the books are generally cheaper on the kindle then buying a paper copy. Amazon also have a kindle daily deal where each day a book is reduced down dramatically in price, often down to 99p. I have the link favourited on my laptop and check this - there's often some good books on there by well known authors. I have discovered new books through this feature too, as I'm more inclined to try an author I don't know or a genre I wouldn't normally read if the book is cheap!
Once you've got your book to read it you simply select is using the middle square button. There are buttons on both sides of the kindle for turning the page forward and back. Being on both sides it means it doesn't matter what hand you have the kindle in, you're not restricted in any way. Good for me, as I tend to hold it in my left hand.
The pages turn easy enough. It's pretty smooth (faster than the kindle keyboard apparently, and the newer version is meant to be even smoother). The words of the next page appear pretty much instantly as you press the button. The font used is clear and easy to read. I have left the font 'as it comes' but there is the option to make the font larger to make it easier to read.
The kindle remembers what page you are on in your book - there's no having to hunt through to find where you left off. It also remembers the last book you were reading - it will put this book at the top of the list of books. There is also the option to create 'folders' to put your books in. For example, I have chick lit in one folder, kids books in another, and 'classics' in another again. This makes keeping track of the books you have much easier!
Practicality wise, the kindle is light (less than 170 grams apparently), it's user friendly, and generally a very good e-reader. It is functional for its purpose. You can use it outside in sunlight without any glare. As with a real book though, you do need a light source of some description as the kindle doesn't have a background light - but this is how they have managed to get the screen to look like an actual page. (Amazon have now created the Kindle paperwhite which does have a built in light, but I haven't used one so I don't know what differences this makes). This kindle also holds up to 1,400 books - a whole library! I wouldn't be able to carry that amount of books with me any other way! The books you buy are also stored in 'the cloud' which basically means they are backed up and you can re-download them wirelessly for free.
I also discovered I can access the internet using the kindle when in a wi-fi area, though everything is obviously black and white. It's not the easiest device to access the web on, but it is occasionally a useful extra.
The battery life is great too. Amazon claim it can last up to a month on one charge. From my experiences the past few months I would say this is true. Unless of course you leave the wi-fi on solid like I did for the first couple of weeks!
There are other features that I have yet to use - such as adding pdf's or e-mailing yourself documents that you can read on the go. Apparently you can also 'lend' other kindle users a book you have bought to their kindle. It is also possible to download free samples of books to your kindle to read before you buy so you can try out authors and genres you wouldn't normally read.
=== Summary ===
I LOVE my kindle. This is the sceptical me converted to using kindle. The kindle doesn't replace books in my mind, but certainly is another way that I can enjoy them. I still have books. I still like to read a BOOK. But yes, I am converted. Kindle is a new way to enjoy reading. Especially when on the go.
Summary: Not a replacement for a book, but a great alternative
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