Review of the new $79 Kindle

I recently purchased one of the new ad-supported $79 Kindles from Amazon’s new continuum of Kindles.  This is an upgrade from my old Kindle 2 after its screen froze (actually the second time this happened – the first time it was under warranty and Amazon replaced it).  Pictured above is the size comparison.

Below I’ve listed the Pros and Cons of the new reader.

Pros

  1. Super-light, but still feels like a quality build.  This is approximately half the weight of my old Kindle 2, but Amazon has added a rubberized back and high-quality plastic that keeps the device from feeling cheap.  It can easily be held one-handed for long stretches (something that definitely cannot be said for the iPad2 which is approximately 4x the weight!).
  2. The E-Ink display is very crisp and much more readable than the iPad, especially for long sittings.  It can also be used outside with very little glare.
  3. Maybe it’s because I’m skipping a generation (from Kindle 2 to Kindle 4) but the E-Ink refresh time seems much faster.  On my Kindle 2, turning the page was kind of a bummer – it took seconds.  Kindle 4 page turns are very snappy – much faster than I could physically turn the page of a book.
  4. The battery life is still great – I got about a month of heavy use WITH THE Wifi turned ON before it died.  There must be some serious behind-the-scenes management of the Wifi connection.  I’m currently conducting a test with the Wifi turned off to see if I can get longer.
  5. Amazon finally removed the hardware keyboard.  I never used it on my Kindle 2, and I don’t miss it on my new Kindle.
  6. Though most people would put ads as a definite negative, I’m listing them as a positive because I was given the option of receiving a $30 discount on the device for what are very unobtrusive and wonderfully implemented ads.  I have not regretted this decision.  The ads are only presented as a screensaver and as a tiny banner ad on the Home screen; no ads are visible during reading.  As a bonus, they are even sometimes for local things (think Groupon).  Here’s a sample of some full-page screensaver ads I’ve seen:

Cons

  1. As a sort of general whining I’ll say that the $79 model is missing some features of the higher-end models such as longer battery life, 3G, and touchscreen.  Obviously, I wish I could get these things in the low-end model, but Amazon really had to cut things to get to this amazing price point.
  2. The next-page and previous-page buttons have been made very small and moved more to the side of the device than the face of it.  This can sometimes make it hard to push them, and while fumbling around with them I sometimes push them twice.
  3. The device has been made so small, that there’s not really enough bezel to hold it.  Sometimes I end up resting my thumb actually on the screen, obscuring part of the text.  Below is a picture comparing the new Kindle to my old Kindle 2:

Conclusion

I love the new Kindle, and the pros definitely outweigh the cons.  Amazon has really hit a sweet spot at $79, putting the reader comfortably in impulse-buy territory.

 

 

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3 Responses to Review of the new $79 Kindle

  1. I’ve been wanting a Kindle for some time but I wasn’t sure if I was willing to get the ad supported model or not. It seems like the ads aren’t very intrusive at all. Thanks for clearing this up for me!

    • No problem. I actually prefer the ads to the “Classic Authors” screensaver that was the only option on my Kindle 2.

      • Right now I’ve got a Sony Reader Touch (PRS-600) which is great and all, but the touch screen causes such a distracting glare that it’s hard to find a good reading position. In an ideal world the Kindle would support ePub, but since one can easily convert from ePub to mobi the Kindle is definitely the best option given it’s sexy screen and price.