Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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Kindle Touch - carrying around lots of books at once
Amazon Kindle Touch
Member Name: julwhite
Amazon Kindle Touch
Advantages: Very easy to use, long battery life
Disadvantages: Not as good as physical book, although much easier to carry
The Kindle is a piece of technology which allows the user to easily acquire books from Amazon digitally and then view them. The technology used is called e-ink, which aims to offer a similar reading experience to that of reading a book. Kindles have been available for a few years, and there are currently a few to choose from.
There is the basic Kindle which retails currently for around 89 pounds, a Kindle Touch - which is reviewed below - which retails for either 109 pounds or 169 pounds depending on whether 3G is required, and the Kindle Keyboard, which as its name suggests has a keyboard at the bottom of the unit under the screen.
This review specifically is of the cheaper version of the Kindle Touch, without 3G. Again as its name suggests this differs from the basic model as users can touch the screen to perform various actions.
In terms of the specifications of the unit, it weighs just over 200 grams, which is around the weight of a paperback book, so is easy to carry around and to support whilst reading. It also measures 17 cms by 12 cms, so although a little bigger than an average paperback, it isn't by much. So for me, the unit was successful in being portable, lightweight and easy to read from.
Amazon claim that the battery lasts for two months, although to achieve times like this it is necessary to turn off the in-built wi-fi. However, what was true from my experience though is that charging needs to be done only rarely, so there isn't the problem of the unit powering down after a few hours of use in the way that a phone might do for example. The unit can be charged by the USB port, which makes recharging simple.
In terms of the number of books the unit can hold, it's around 3,000. The unit has 4GB of memory, of which three quarters is usable for book storage, the rest is in-built software. This unit doesn't have any expansion slots which is a shame, but I imagine for most readers, 3,000 books is likely to be a sufficient number to have on the unit.
Downloading a book is easy, the incorporated wi-fi means that purchases are sent automatically and there are no costs for the delivery of the book. There is just the charge for the book itself, which varies widely, from free of charge, to a large amount of books at 99p and many more expensive ones. It's possible also to download the first 10% of books for free to see if they're books which might be useful.
In terms of pricing, VAT is chargeable on e-books, which isn't chargeable on the books themselves in a bookshop. This does create a slightly different pricing structure, but I personally find it disappointing when publishers charge a price for the e-book which is similar to that of the actual published book, given that they've not had the costs of physically publishing the book itself. However, users can of course decide for themselves if they want to pay the price being charged for each book.
I haven't experienced much with these features, but the product does have a text to speech option, which is useful for those with reading difficulties. There is also mp3 support and the facility to download audio books. I checked these only briefly, and noted that you could either listen via headphones, or without, which I thought were useful extra features.
There is a built in Internet browser which can be used with the in-built wi-fi. This is quite a basic browser however which doesn't display many pages very well, and they're displayed in black and white given the limitations of the unit. However, I didn't necessarily view this as a disadvantage as the unit wasn't built to specifically do this, it's just an occasional helpful extra to quickly check some information on-line.
I found using the unit very easy and self-explanatory, although when I purchased the item there was very little information actually included with the product in printed form. However, this is understandable given the nature of the product, and a comprehensive manual is available on the Kindle itself to read.
I found reading from the unit very easy, it's surprising how technology has evolved to make the screen as close to reading a book as I could realistically expect. It doesn't hurt my eyes after a while in the way a brighter screen might, so I found this a big advantage. Also the unit only uses battery when you actually turn a page, otherwise it stores the information on the page.
Overall therefore, I'd recommend this unit for anyone who likes reading and can't necessarily carry a number of books around with them. It's great for public transport or holidays, and that is a major advantage in the unit in my view. There is an in-built search function which also makes it useful complex books where finding specific text is important, and it's also great for travel guides as you can carry the unit around whilst travelling and sight-seeing.
In terms of replacing books, I think that it may replace some sales of books, because it's an easier machine to use. However, I don't think it'll replace books entirely, too many people like the physical nature of a book, and I would certainly rather have a printed book to keep on many occasions. However for reference or travel titles, I would now always buy via Kindle so the titles are readily available.
What is also reassuring is that if you buy books, they are backed up by Amazon themselves, so if something happens to Kindle, you are still able to access them via your account. Also, I've found that the customer support from Amazon is top rate, so although I haven't had any problems with this machine, I feel reassured Amazon would help fix them.
This unit cost 109 pounds from Amazon themselves, but they are not the only retailer, and offers may be available with other sellers. I know that Argos sell them, and sometimes offer a 10 pound voucher when spending 100 pounds, so that might be another option, but shopping around is always useful of course.
Overall, I very much recommend this unit. It would never replace the physical book for me, but for certain types of titles it makes carrying them around much easier, accessing them much easier and it can also save money over buying the printed book.
Summary: Recommended for the features for those that likes lots of reading
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