The newest Amazon Kindle, which goes on sale today and which I’ve been trialling for the last week or so, is attractive and elegant. Although it’s the lowest-priced Kindle in the Amazon range, for the very first time of the entry-level model that has a frontlight so you can read your eBooks anywhere. The arrival of this new Kindle only means that for the first time all Amazon Kindles have frontlight.
It’s great-looking and moderately shiny. My review unit is white but it is also available in black. The Kindle lacks the aluminium finish of the top-of-the-range Oasis, but there’s a benefit here: the Oasis can overheat in direct sunshine. This eBook reader with its plastic shell takes the heat in its stride.
Not the water, though: unlike the other Kindles, this one is not water-resistant, so don’t drop it in the pool.
If you’ve spent a long time reading on a regular tablet, you’ll know that however good it is, the experience can be wearing on the eyes. Backlights by definition are directing light straight into your eyes. A frontlight, however, bathes the e-paper in light only.
It’s true, if you gaze down at the bottom edge of the display, that is from an angle you will literally never usually see it, you can see the four LEDs like footlights. But in normal usage, the light on the e-paper is immaculately even, as though it’s one source of illumination. Of course, it’s adjustable: turn it off to save battery in the sunshine, turn it up in dim rooms. It makes the page look lively and inviting.
It’s not as high-resolution as the Paperwhite or Oasis – they have 300ppi screens and this one is just 167ppi – but it’s perfectly readable.
Storage, connectivity and battery life
The 4GB storage is less than on the other kindles but is more than enough if you’re merely reading books. It can store thousands of books. You’re only likely to want more space (and, by the way, you can’t have it, there’s no micro SD card slot) if you purchase Audible audiobooks which this Kindle, like the others in the range, are capable of playing.
In that case, you may need to delete the one you’ve listened to before you download the next. If you do, know that you’re safe in the knowledge that you can always re-download previous listens in the future.
Oh, and you’ll need to be in a Wi-Fi area to do so: the entry-level Kindle is only available with Wi-Fi connectivity, not the free 3G or 4G connection that lets you download books from anywhere. In practical terms, unless you’re lying on a beach bed in the remote sands and want to get the next book after the one you’ve just finished, you won’t notice the difference. Anyway, maybe your skin could do with a break from the sunshine for just a moment.
Battery life on eBook readers is measured in weeks, not hours, and that’s the case here. On a particularly reading-intensive commute or holiday you may need to recharge every few nights, but no more than that.