New Kindle Review: Is it good enough?

A few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox to reveal a slender brown box. Elated, I rushed into my apartment and tore into the packaging. I oohed and ahhed as I pulled out a sleek charcoal device, complete with a 6″ eInk display; it was the new $109 keyboard-less Kindle ($79 if you get the version with Ads). Since then, I have been tirelessly reading, downloading, researching, and just plain playing with it.

The reading process has, thus far, been my absolute favourite aspect of this Kindle. The beautiful six-inch display appears more paper-like than any eInk screen that I have seen to date. Page turning is very smooth and the buttons are well-located, if a bit difficult to push sometimes. The other buttons are central and perfectly responsive, making highlighting easy.

Along with reading, my eBook buying experience has been quite delightful. The Kindle’s store is easy to search or browse. The category filtering, thumbnail displays, and reviews appear as eInk versions of what would appear when searching the Kindle Store on a computer. The one drawback of the shopping experience is that the lack of a keyboard or touchscreen makes typing somewhat difficult; however, the quick-loading search suggestions often negate the necessity of the keyboard altogether.

Unlike in the past, buying eBooks is not the only way to get them onto the Kindle. ePub library books are now available from 11,000 American public libraries. The major issue with this is that the eBooks cannot be downloading directly onto the Kindle, but they can be easily transferred from a computer. There are thousands of titles available for free for a temporary period, making reading even more accessible.

Amazon also offers an alternative library for Amazon Prime members. It is a fantastic paid service, allowing members to borrow books without due dates and get other exceptional deals from Amazon.

Another way to view files on the Kindle is by viewing .PDF files. While screen rotation, brightness, and zoom are all adjustable, most .PDFs simply do not look right on the Kindle. Pictures are grayscaled and made to look grainy on the eInk screen and words within comic books and brochures are nearly always too distorted or small to read.

Finally, the Kindle has games, applications, and an experimental browser. These features all give the Kindle a well-roundedness. The Kindle has always been viewed as purely an eReader, but since the release of the Kindle Fire and these features, the image of the Kindle is changing, but this Kindle is lacking the ability to listen to music. That could be a step in the wrong direction for Amazon.

The applications and games available for the Kindle are similar to what applications and games are available for other tablets and smartphones, but with less animation. Amazon has focused these apps around reading, writing, and expanding your mind. Moving back and forth between the apps and eBooks is seamless; however, the browser does have some issues and without a keyboard, it is practically unusable.

The new Kindle has been altogether a surprisingly useful device, with far more features and functionality than I had expected. While the device definitely has its flaws, I cannot say that I regret buying it. Anyone who is seeking a fantastic eReader with great usability and a clear, beautiful display will be delighted with the new Kindle.