Amazon Kindle Touch Wi-Fi eBook reader review
Having so many unread books at home, the Amazon Kindle and its numerous variants never really captured my imagination. I just wasn’t that fussed about e-Books and using them was a slow burn, starting with iBooks on my iPhone – I’m blessed with good eyesight – followed by musing over tomes on an iPad 2.
Finger friendly: Amazon's Kindle Touch
I realised the conversion to this mindset was complete though when I was searching on-line for a review product PDF manual to add to iBooks to read on the tube. I gave up, pushed my laptop to one side and then noticed the paper manual of the product on the table that I’d been blind to. Oh, how I laughed, ahem.
And then my boss handed me a Bookeen Cybook Odyssey – he’s no fool, he’d used it. Actually, if it weren’t for a niggling accelerometer bug, a crappy on-off switch and book store that’s all in French, it would be a decent bit of kit. And thus I was bathed in e-ink and a battery life that needs a calendar rather than a watch. At least this transition wasn’t too troubling as this reader features a touchscreen.
Just like the real thing, the Kindle bookstore has plenty of recent titles at discounted prices
So as a relative novice, getting my hands on the Amazon Kindle Touch seemed an exciting prospect. Given the Kindle range has a dedicated bookstore, presumably these guys set the benchmark on how to build an e-Book reader. Yet I have to admit that – following on from the Cybook Odyssey – the perceived thickness with its flat less tapered back, deeply recessed screen and 10 per cent extra weight of the Touch came as a bit of surprise.
Both readers feature a 167ppi 600 x 800 resolution 6in touchscreen display that outputs a 16-level greyscale – you’d be pushed to tell them apart. However there's no SD card slot on the Kindle Touch but you're unlikely to miss it. There's a Home button below the screen along with both micro USB, headphone sockets and a power button in the base. Turn it over and you see a pair of speaker grilles at this end – sonically it delivers the requisite excruciating gutlessness of any self-respecting tablet.
Work in progress: all functional but in need of refinement
Indeed, audio comes across as a bit of an afterthought given that the makeshift MP3 Player and Text-to-Speech functions are tucked away in the Experimental section, along with the Web browser. More on these later, but as you’ll have guessed, the Kindle Touch has Wi-Fi on-board providing easy access to Amazon Kindle book store and there’s a 3G version available too.
Next page: Buy once, read many
Considering this was released in the UK back in April it leads me to wondering whether Register writers are in the habit of just reviewing whatever they happen to have got for their birthday.
Having tried both touch and button-style ebooks
I'm coming down strongly on the side of the buttons. Touch screens are all very well, but they are difficult to use one-handed (e.g. reading in bed) and you can't just pick the thing up and carry it with a bundle of other things without putting it to sleep first, lest you discover yourself six pages from where you thought you were.
It's possible that other interfaces work better - for example, browsing - but it's not something I do, so I can't comment. Though I do notice that on my Kobo touch, my fingers are often too dry to operate the touch screen.
Hmm. At least they're cheap enough now that you can by them on a whim.
Does the Kindle allow you to read e-books? Yes
Is the screen hard on your eyes? No
Does the battery last a long time? Yes
Could it be more like a smart phone? Yes
Does it need to be more like a smart phone? NO
Re: 6 inches is too small
They're 6 inches because they're designed for reading books, the most popular form-factor of which has a printed area of, about, 6 inches. If you want multi-functional, you've hit the nail on the head - spend more and get multi-functional.
First point: Change the text size, character spacing & line spacing then.
Second point: It's a split second! And on the £89 Kindle & the Touch you can have faster transitions by turning off the page refresh (will cause some ghosting though, until the refresh after the 6th page turn.)
Third point: Higher contrast in what way? Do you mean that it doesn't light up? If so, well a book doesn't light up either. Put a light on, or use a book light.
Regarding the fourth point, and the others for that matter, nobody is *forcing* you to use an ebook reader of any kind. If you prefer books and libraries, use books and libraries. Even if you do buy a Kindle or something similar it doesn't mean you can no longer read "real" books, you know.