While the Kindle Voyage is the more exciting of Amazon’s latest ereaders, the Amazon Kindle shouldn’t be overlooked as an affordable way to enter the world of paperless books.
Calling it just ‘Kindle’ makes it a little confusing to talk about, since it’s not the first, second, third, fourth or even fifth device with that moniker.
Amazon has discontinued all the previous models so it is, from the company’s perspective, the one and only basic Kindle, designed to sit alongside the now mid-range Kindle Paperwhite and the flagship Kindle Voyage.
Despite the fact that Amazon hasn’t changed the name it’s actually quite different to last year’s Kindle as it’s the first basic model to offer a touchscreen display. Its 1GHz processor also apparently makes it 20% faster than its predecessor and it comes with double the storage, 4GB to be precise.
Another way to look at it is as being similar to the discontinued Kindle Touch, but with a lower price tag and its MP3 and text-to-speech features missing.
In fact that price tag is one of the most appealing things about the Kindle, as it costs just £59 or US$79 (about AU$103) with adverts or £69/US$99 (about AU$129) if you don’t want adverts on your lock screen.
That’s only just over half as much as the £109 or US$139 (about AU$182) Kindle Paperwhite and far, far cheaper than the £169/US$199 (about AU$260) Kindle Voyage.
The Kindle might be a basic model, but it doesn’t feel basic. The addition of a touchscreen is a real game changer for anyone coming from a non-touchscreen ereader, so much so that you’ll likely wonder how you ever got by.
It’s instantly familiar too, at least if you’ve come from a previous Kindle model. That’s no bad thing, as it means you spend less time learning how to use the thing and more time reading, but it does inevitably make it harder to stand out.
This seventh generation device looks and feels a lot like 2013’s model and the core reading experience is largely unchanged, but its 6-inch 167ppi display isn’t anywhere near as sharp as the 300ppi Kindle Voyage and nor does it have a fancy backlight.
So is it really worth upgrading to if you’re an existing Kindle owner or choosing over a cheaper competitor if you’re new to the world of digital books?
Watch the video below to see how the screen compares to both the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage.
The key selling point of the new Amazon Kindle (2014) is undoubtedly the screen and specifically the fact that it’s the first basic Kindle model with a touchscreen. This really makes all the difference, no longer do you need to use awkward arrow buttons to navigate between books or use them to navigate across keys on the onscreen keyboard, instead you can just tap.
It’s far faster and far more intuitive, making reading, shopping and looking words up a much more pleasant experience. Other than that the screen isn’t much changed. At 6-inches it’s the standard Kindle size and it’s a good size too, slightly smaller than most physical books but large enough to easily read from.
Its 167ppi pixel density is starting to feel a bit old hat in the face of the 212ppi Kindle Paperwhite and the 300ppi Kindle Voyage. While it could certainly be sharper I had to look close to make out any pixels and unless you’re holding it right up to your face it’s comfortable to read on and never once gave me eye strain.
If you’re coming direct from a higher end Kindle then you’ll notice the difference, not just in terms of resolution but also contrast, which is a little flat here and a far cry from the pages of an actual book.
For that reason if you’re an avid digital reader it might be worth spending a little more on a Voyage or Paperwhite, but if you’re not coming from a higher end Kindle you won’t know what you’re missing and as such probably won’t miss it, as the reading experience here is absolutely fine.
What I missed more was the built in light. If you tend to read in bed, particularly if you have a partner who is already asleep, a reading light is invaluable and even during the day I find that a little light shining on the screen makes it more pleasant to use.
When it comes to storing your library on the new Kindle (2014) there’s no microSD card slot, so you’re stuck with the built in storage. This year Amazon has doubled that to 4GB, which is enough to hold thousands of books.
If you have hundreds of thousands of books then you can use Amazon’s cloud storage for the rest, which is easily accessible just as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, so if you plan to live in a cave for a few months make sure you have all the books you want stored locally first.
Remember if you’re looking to jump ship from either Nook or Kobo you won’t be able to transfer your purchases to Kindle – so you may want to consider the added cost of re-paying for some of your favourite reads before making the switch.