Kindle 4 Review (Kindle 4 Review, Photos)

Having played with the Kindle 4 it’s time to write a proper review. This Kindle 4 Review will cover – Review Assumptions, A Detailed Kindle 4 Review, Kindle 4 Photos, Upgrade Recommendations (if you have Kindle 3 or Kindle 2).

For the Kindle 4 Photos (including Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3 Comparison Photos) please jump to the second half of the post.

Kindle 4 Review – Assumptions

This is a review of the Kindle 4. Review = Helping someone decide whether or not to buy it.

It’s not for you if you’ve already bought a Kindle 4 or have already decided to buy a Kindle 4. You will probably not like the fact that we point out a somewhat long list of mostly minor negatives.

We’ll start off with three assumptions -

  1. We are looking at whether Kindle 4 is a great eReader. The most important criteria being - ability to find and buy books easily, the reading experience, the value for money. Some other important criteria - battery life, ease of use, portability, the actual price, reading related features, resale value.
  2. We value ‘value for money’ over raw price. This Kindle 4 Review will focus on answering two questions - Is Kindle 4 good value for money? Is it the best value for money (especially since Kindle Touch and Kindle 3 are just $20 more)?
  3. We are in a very competitive environment and Kindle 4 co-exists with other options. Thanks to the Kindle vs Nook vs Kobo battle and the various Kindles on offer – we get to choose the very best option.

On with the Kindle 4 Review.

Detailed Kindle 4 Review – The 5 Best Things

  1. The very low $79 price. If your primary criteria is to buy the cheapest eReader possible – then Kindle 4 is the clear winner.
  2. Very good Value for Money. This also shows up on Top 5 Negatives list because it offers lower value for money than Kindle 3 and Kindle Touch. However, at $79 Kindle 4 is incredible value for money.
  3. Kindle Store and Kindle Infrastructure. You get a connection to the best eBook Store and get Amazon’s amazing infrastructure to support you.
  4. Great Reading Experience if you ignore the things that are at the periphery. The eInk Pearl screen makes for a great reading experience.
  5. Very light and compact. It’s just 6 ounces and it’s 18% smaller in size than Kindle 3.

Basically, if you look at the most important qualities an eReader should have i.e. easy to find and get books, good reading experience, value for money – Kindle 4 does very well on all three. The problems start when we look at the other qualities an eReader should have (the ones that aren’t deal breakers but will still have an impact on the overall experience).

In a nutshell – Kindle 4 is a good eReader but misses out on being a great eReader.

Kindle 4 Review – The 5 Worst Things

  1. The decision to have neither a touchscreen nor a keyboard is a big mistake. It makes everything awkward and/or adds additional steps everywhere - bookmarking pages, changing font settings, highlighting, entering a website address, doing a search, note-taking (more on that later), etc. There are lots and lots of things that are slower and/or painful on Kindle 4.
  2. Kindle 4 is far less value for money than a Kindle Touch or Kindle 3. My estimate would be – Kindle 4 is worth around $100 in value, Kindle Touch is worth around $160 to $180, Kindle 3 is worth around $160 to $170. It might be $20 cheaper than the other two options – However, it provides less bang for the buck.
  3. If you like taking notes then Kindle 4 is pretty much out of the question.
  4. Kindle 4 doesn’t have speakers so text to speech is impossible and you can’t play music on it.
  5. 50% less battery life than other Kindles and 50% less memory (actually 60% less than Kindle 3).

If this is your first Kindle then some of these things are things you’ll never realize – so it’s not as bad as it sounds.

In a nutshell - If the extra $20 is not an issue, then Kindle 4 just isn’t very compelling when compared with Kindle Touch and Kindle 3.

Kindle 4 Review – Core Reading Experience

Kindle 4 shines here. The eInk Pearl screen is the same as the Kindle 3′s and it’s great for reading. The background is now whiter and there is a black border around the screen that helps bring out the contrast better.

The screen is flashed only on every 6th page turn which makes page turns faster and less annoying (if the flash bothers you).

It’s easy to get books and you still have 60 second downloads.

One slight negative here is that the page turn buttons are now even smaller and harder to get to. Of course, this is a very personal thing and people’s opinions will vary wildly.

Overall, the Core Reading Experience is superb.

Kindle 4 Review – Things that prop up the Reading Experience

This is where the Kindle 4 runs into trouble.

Making a bookmark, adding a highlight, adding a note, changing the font, doing a search - everything is now slower or takes more steps. If you like making highlights and taking notes then Kindle 4 is ruled out.

Adding a highlight now involves – Pressing down on the 5-way, getting a menu and choosing ‘Start Highlight’ (usually the first option), moving the cursor, pressing 5-way again, getting a menu and choosing ‘End Highlight’ (always the first option).

It also involves two screen flashes.

If you’ve owned a Kindle 3 it might be rather annoying – especially when everything else also involves extra steps. If you’ve never owned a Kindle – then there’s no frame of reference and you might not mind it.

In Summary – Things that support the reading experience are now neither smooth nor intuitive. It takes away from the great core reading experience and turns the Kindle 4 from a great eReader to a merely good one. It’s still an absolute steal at $79.

Kindle 4 Review – Looking at the Product Page

Here are a few things worth discussing -

  1. The lightness and compactness are indeed very impressive. If possible, visit a Staples and check it out in person.
  2. The memory capacity is quite enough if you plan on reading just books from Amazon. If you plan on adding PDFs etc. then 1.2 GB of available memory might not be enough. Also, there is no SD Card so you can’t expand.
  3. eInk Pearl Screen – It was beautiful on the Kindle 3 and it’s slightly improved here (Not enough to warrant an upgrade).
  4. Kindle Library Book Support – Amazing Feature. Finally coming for all Kindles and Kindle 4 benefits from this.
  5. Read in Sunlight. One of the big selling points of eInk (along with the fact that it’s much easier on the eyes for approximately 50% of people).
  6. Battery Life – 1 month is quite enough for most people. If you want more, get the Kindle 3 or Kindle Touch.
  7. Simple to Use – Yes. However, Amazon has made a mess of things like highlighting and note-taking.
  8. WiFi. This is a great feature to have. Browse the Internet, Shop in the Kindle Store, etc.
  9. Faster Page Turns. Yes, and the screen flashes only on every 6th page turn.
  10. PDF Support. The screen is too small for PDFs. You can put the PDF in landscape mode – However, the 6″ screen is just too small.
  11. Kindle Store – An undeniable advantage. The widest range of new ebooks and the best prices.
  12. Access to Public Domain books – Available on all eReaders.
  13. Whispersync and Kindle Reading Apps – a Definite plus. You can start reading on Kindle 4 and finish on your Android Phone or iPad.

Kindle 4 is a very solid eReader. It’s not a very big leap from Kindle 3. More like a Kindle 3.25 rather than a Kindle 4. However, at $79, it’s certainly worth considering.

Kindle 4 – Should you Upgrade?

Short Version

  1. Kindle 2 – Please look at Kindle Touch and Kindle 3 first.
  2. Kindle 3 – No. All you gain is a marginally better screen (and perhaps one or two other things). You give up a lot.
  3. Kindle 1 – Look at Kindle Touch and Kindle 3 first. The move from Kindle 1′s sturdy size and largish keyboard to Kindle 4 might be too much of jump.

Longer Version

With every new device there are some changes people love and there are some changes people don’t really care for. However, Kindle 4 is different in that Kindle 4 doesn’t seem like it’s meant for the people who bought Kindles and Kindle 2s and Kindle 3s.

It’s perhaps meant for people who want a really cheap reading device. Amazon has done a great job for them – $79 is a stunning price.

It is unlikely that Kindle 4 will satisfy existing Kindle owners. While Kindle 4 doesn’t compromise on the core reading experience (it’s superb), it compromises on so many of the supporting elements (note-taking, searching, highlighting, etc.) that it just isn’t worth an upgrade. Kindle 4 is a good, solid eReader and it’s not as good as Kindle 3.

That brings us to our Kindle 4 Photos.

Kindle 4 Review – Kindle 4 Photos

All the photos are after the jump i.e. Click on the read more link.

Continue reading

Kindle Touch Review

This Kindle Touch Review is based on information available about the new Kindle Touch eReader from Amazon. It won’t be released until November 15th – However, it’s worth going into features and comparing it against Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) and the $79 Kindle.

Kindle Touch Review – Main Features

Here’s what you get for $99 -

  1. eInk Pearl Screen. This is optimized for reading and is the latest eInk technology available. It’s readable in sunlight but doesn’t come with a backlight.
  2. 6″ screen with 600 by 800 resolution at 167 ppi.
  3. Touch Screen. Lets you do things easier and quicker. Also page turns are noiseless.
  4. Very simple to use. Touch adds even more simplicity to an already intuitive Kindle experience.
  5. WiFi. Also free WiFi access at AT&T hotspots.
  6. Solid Battery Life. If you read half an hour a day with wireless off you get 2 months battery life.
  7. Wireless Downloads of books in 60 seconds over WiFi.
  8. Kindle Store which has the best range of new books. It also has lots of free book offers and deals and the best book prices.
  9. Library Book Support.
  10. A compact and light eReader. It’s 6.8″ by 4.7″ by 0.40″. It’s also 7.5 ounces. It is supposed to be around 18% smaller than Kindle 3.
  11. Experimental Browser.
  12. 4 GB of memory of which 3 GB is available for you. Free Cloud Storage with unlimited capacity for Amazon content.
  13. Text to Speech. Only available when Publishers haven’t disabled it. Available on all your personal documents.
  14. Lending. One-time lending to one person. Only available when Publishers haven’t disabled it.
  15. Kindle Reading Apps, WhisperSync, and other Amazon Infrastructure based features. You can continue reading across devices. You can sync notes.
  16. PDF Support. Please Note: The 6″ screen is rather small for PDFs and there are still bugs with highlighting in PDFs etc. So this isn’t really a very good PDF reader.
  17. There’s a new feature called X-Ray which lets you explore the bones of a book. Somewhere, House is laughing at the ridiculous analogy.
  18. Faster page turns than Kindle 3.

Overall, you get a very impressive amount of value for money.

It is worth pointing out some disadvantages -

  1. To get the $99 price you have to get the Kindle Touch with Special Offers. That means ads instead of screensavers and an ad on your Kindle home page.
  2. There is no ePub support. That means you can’t really get ebooks from any of the other big ebook stores. It also means that if you decide to switch to another eReader you can’t take your Kindle books with you.
  3. Touch is convenient – However, the typing will not be as convenient as with a physical keyboard. The lack of physical page turn buttons is also an inconvenience.
  4. No 3G. The 3G version is $50 more expensive. It lets you download books via 3G and lets you do free Internet browsing in over 100 countries (only if your Home Country is the US).
  5. Perhaps some things I’ve missed.

To be quite honest, there aren’t that many disadvantages. The Ads are annoying but at $99 you can’t really complain.

Amazon has taken back its ‘Best eReader’ Crown. It’ll be interesting to see what B&N and Kobo do to counter.

Kindle Touch Review – Top 5 Kindle Touch Features

A quick summary of the 5 main benefits -

  1. An eInk Pearl eReader for just $99.
  2. Access to the Kindle Store.
  3. Text to Speech.
  4. Touch screen and generally very easy to use interface.
  5. Compact, Light and Portable.

Everyone expected Amazon to try for a $99 Kindle – No one expected it to deliver a $99 Kindle Touch.

Kindle Touch Review – How important is the Touch Kindle price of $99?

The Kindle Touch at $99 is really good value for money. The key figure here is $99. It’s a really important price since it means that we go below the mythical $100 price barrier and lots of people who were unwilling to pay $114 for a Kindle 3 with Special Offers will now supposedly be psychologically compelled to buy the Kindle Touch with Special Offers for $99.

My gut feeling is that it’s going to work and the $99 Kindle Touch will sell like crazy. The $79 Kindle and $99 Kindle make price and value for money their main selling points and with their sub-$100 prices they remove what was perhaps the last big barrier to wide eReader adoption.

Kindle Touch for $99 or Kindle Keyboard for $99?

Not even going to discuss the $79 Kindle because its lack of speakers and lack of keyboard/touch make it a horror in my opinion. Just pay $20 more and get Text to Speech and background music and easy typing of notes.

Kindle Touch advantages – touch-screen, more compact, lighter, 4th generation kindle, easier interface thanks to touch.

Kindle Keyboard advantages – keyboard, page turn buttons, known to be very good, available now.

If you prefer a keyboard and/or must have physical page turn buttons and/or can’t wait for a month and a half, then Kindle Keyboard is a better option. In most other cases the Kindle Touch is the better choice. They both are very similar in most other ways. I’ll update this Kindle Touch review when the Kindle Touch ships.

Kindle 4 Review – New Kindle Review

This Kindle 4 Review covers the $79 new Kindle. It reviews the main features and drawbacks of the Kindle 4.

You can find Kindle 4 photos and a more detailed review at the Kindle 4 Review, Photos page.

Kindle 4 Review – $79

The biggest selling point of the Kindle 4 is the $79 price. The general assumption has been that once Amazon hits $99 with a Kindle it will open up the floodgates. Well, Amazon has hit $79 and it is definitely going to lead to a huge number of sales.

First, we’ll look at the main features of the Kindle 4. Then we’ll look at whether you should get the $79 Kindle 4 or the $99 Kindle Keyboard or the $99 Kindle Touch.

Kindle 4 Review – Main Features of the $79 Kindle

Here’s what you get for $79 -

  1. The latest eInk screen technology. It’s eInk Pearl and it’s optimized for reading. You can read it in sunlight but there is no backlight.
  2. The screen is 6″ with 600 by 800 pixel resolution and 16 levels of grey-scale. Note: This is a black and white screen, not color.
  3. A very light and compact eReader. It’s just 5.98 ounces (170 grams) and it’s small enough to fit in your pocket. Exact dimensions: 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″ (166 mm x 114 mm x 8.7 mm).
  4. WiFi. Also included is free access at AT&T hotspots.
  5. It has 2 GB of internal memory with 1.25 GB available for you. That can hold 1,400 books.
  6. Free Cloud Storage for all Amazon content you buy.
  7. Battery life of 1 month with wireless off (and half an hour a day of reading). Battery life of 3 weeks with wireless on (again with half an hour a day of reading).
  8. USB 2.0 connector.
  9. Formats supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC.
  10. Formats Supported after conversion: HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP.
  11. Experimental Browser.
  12. Faster page turns than Kindle 3 had.
  13. Adjustable Font Sizes and Fonts optimized for the eInk Pearl screen – for speed and readability.
  14. Support for Latin, Greek, and Non-Latin characters including English, Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Korean.
  15. Option to switch between Portrait and Landscape Mode.

That’s a bit overwhelming so let’s look at Top 5 Benefits.

Kindle 4 Review – Top 5 Kindle Benefits

Here is why you might want to get a $79 Kindle -

  1. It’s just $79.
  2. It’s the same excellent-for-reading eInk Pearl screen the $189 Kindle 3 had (now just $99 if you don’t mind ads in screensavers and at the bottom of your home page).
  3. It’s very light and compact and portable and WiFi lets you carry it around and get books and browse anywhere there is a WiFi network you can access. It has great battery life which adds to the portability.
  4. You get access to the Kindle Store and Amazon’s infrastructure. Including free Cloud storage for your Amazon purchases and features like WhisperSync.
  5. You get support for library books.

There are also some concerns -

  1. With neither a keyboard nor a touchscreen the usability will be bad – and downright terrible for taking notes or writing down anything.
  2. No Speakers – That means no text to speech and no music in the background.
  3. For just $20 more you can get a Kindle Touch or a Kindle Keyboard which are much better. Both in value for money and in overall features.
  4. The memory is on the low side – With 1.25 GB available and with no memory card slot you are stuck if you like carrying a lot of books around with you.
  5. Battery life is less – just 1 month compared to 2 months for the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Keyboard.
  6. Update: Without ePub support it means you can only buy books from Kindle Store.

We keep coming back to the comparison with the Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard so let’s look at it in more depth.

Kindle 4 Review – What about $20 more for the Kindle Touch or the Kindle Keyboard?

If you don’t need touch and don’t need a keyboard - then the $79 Kindle is great. Please do note that the lack of a keyboard (physical or touch based) will make some things difficult. Also, it doesn’t have speakers so no Text to Speech which is one of the biggest Amazon/Kindle advantages.

If you like to take notes or like having a physical keyboard – then the Kindle Keyboard is the best choice. It’s not as compact and page turns are not as fast. However, it’s a pretty good deal at $99. It also has speakers. Note: It is the third generation Kindle so it’s not as new as the $79 Kindle or the $99 Kindle Touch.

If you want a touchscreen and are OK with an on-screen touch keyboard – then the Kindle Touch is the best choice. It also has speakers. It’s also a Kindle 4 i.e. a fourth generation Kindle.

In my opinion, it’s a far better decision to get the Kindle Touch or the Kindle Keyboard. In either case, for just $20 more, you are getting a far more usable interface. I’ll update this Kindle 4 Review by Friday or Saturday. However, it’s pretty clear in my mind that you lose a lot by choosing the $79 Kindle over the $99 Kindle Touch or the $99 Kindle Keyboard.

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