Friday, 30 September 2016 14:23

Amazon Kindle – the best way to read a book

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Amazon’s new Kindle has a hi-contrast, e-paper, touch screen that is almost as simple to use as a book.

To position this, it is an entry level $109 device – a 6”, 167ppi, 800 x 600, E Ink Pearl, 16 level grey scale, black/white screen housed on a 160 x 115 x 9.1mm x 161g slab. It connects via Wi-Fi to the Internet and charges via micro-USB.

Also in the range is the PaperWhite (A$179), a Voyage (A$299) and Oasis (A$449) – all 6”, 300ppi screens but with the addition of Free 3G connection (in Australia).

Until this time I read most e-books on a Samsung Android Tab S or Microsoft Surface Pro 4. That shows the flexibility of the Kindle system – it is all about e-books, not so much devices. Or to be blunt – it is like a printer designed to sell more ink!

In fact, the Kindle system can sneak up on you and before you know it you have purchased and read hundreds, if not thousands of books (4GB memory), all conveniently charged to your credit card on file and downloaded to the device.

This is not so much of a review as a first use article. Before you buy a Kindle reader try the app download for Windows, Android or iOS and give it a go on your existing tablet or mobile. If you like what you see, then the decision to buy a reader comes down to buying precisely the right device for you to read on.

In my short review, I found that the e-paper was glare-free, relaxing and easy on the eye. I found that the instant on function (as against booting a tablet) was convenient and I tended to read a little more often than just before bed. The screen is not backlit for reading in the dark – if you need this, any of the other models will do this.

I also found the convenience of seldom having to charge it – it seemed to go for weeks, and the lack of distractions (no notifications or alerts) is quite refreshing.

It was good company on long international flights giving me just over 14 hours (Wi-Fi off) total use on one charge. Charging however was painfully slow – at 500mAh (typical USB) it took well over four hours. Using a 2.1A charger shortened this slightly but it does not support fast charge.

Although not tested, VoiceView Screen Reader lets blind or visually impaired users connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones, allowing them to get audio feedback to help with navigating the device as well as have what's currently on the screen read aloud to them.

Conclusion

This is the least expensive model and does what it promises. It is made from plastic; it is thin and light, virtually unbreakable, and simple to use. It is true one-handed reading – unlike using Kindle on a larger tablet. There are lots of features like a dictionary, vocabulary builder, translation, smart lookup and X-ray view that make it a more valuable device.

However, I think I would splurge and get the $179 Paperwhite version (not reviewed) simply for the backlight, higher resolution 300ppi screen and free 3G.

Kindle size

 

The new Kindle includes all of the features that have made the Kindle family the most popular e-readers in the world for eight years running:

  • New Fonts – Fonts like Bookerly, Ember, and OpenDyslexic provide more choice for customers on top of the world-class fonts already available on Kindle.
  • Weeks of battery life – Battery life is measured in weeks, not hours.
  • Whispersync – Saves and synchronises your last page read, bookmarks, and annotations across all of your devices and Kindle apps, so you can always pick up where you left off.
  • Worry-free archive – Automatically backs up your Kindle books in the cloud, so you never need to worry about losing your books – re-download your books wirelessly anytime for free.
  • Goodreads – Kindle is integrated with the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations, with over 50 million members, 1.5 billion books added, and 50 million book reviews.
  • X-Ray – Explore the “Bones of the Book” – see all of the passages across a book that mention relevant ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places, or topics of interest.
  • Word Wise – Available on many popular English language titles, Word Wise makes it easier to enjoy and quickly understand more challenging books. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading with fewer interruptions.
  • Time to Read – Tells you how much time it will take to finish a chapter or a book based on your personalised reading speed
  • Vocabulary Builder – Compiles words you look up in the dictionary into an easy-to-access list. Use these lists to quiz yourself with flashcards and instantly see words in context.
  • Share your favourite passages – Share book recommendations, highlighted sections, and meaningful quotes with friends via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Smart Lookup – Integrates a full dictionary definition with other reference information via X-Ray and Wikipedia.
  • Custom-Built Typesetting Engine – Word and character spacing, with hyphenation, justification, ligatures, and kerning lays out the pages just as the author intended.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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