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Kindle (2014) review

James Temperton
28 Nov 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Kindle
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
59
inc VAT

The all new basic Kindle (2014) is a decent cut-price eReader with an excellent touchscreen but it looks and feels cheap

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Specifications

Screen size: 6in mono touchscren, Screen resolution: 167ppi, Storage: 4GB, Size: 169x119x10.2mm, Weight: 191g

Why bother spending over £100 on an eReader when you can get one for £60? The new Kindle has an excellent touchscreen and nearly all the features you need for half the price of more expensive models. This slab of plastic is easy to use, text looks great on it and it is small enough to slip into a coat pocket. The catch? It feels cheap and nasty.

Decked out in matte black plastic the Kindle is meant to look like its stylish, more expensive cousins. The somewhat chunky design and nasty plastic finish ensures it ends up feeling every bit the cut-price device it is. Previous entry-level Kindle models didn't feel anywhere near as cheap and it is disappointing that Amazon has cut corners here.

Not sure which Kindle to buy, read our guide to the latest models

Aesthetic shortcomings needn't get in the way of what is a very good eReader. Screen quality is decent with text looking crisp and sharp on the 6in display. At 167 pixel per inch (ppi) it doesn't touch the 212 ppi screen on the Kindle Paperwhite or the 300ppi screen on the Kindle Voyage, but for the price the basic Kindle is fine and we have no complaints about screen quality.

Adding a touchscreen to the basic Kindle brings it bang up to date. Turning pages and navigating menus is a cinch, just as it is on the superb Kindle Paperwhite. The touchscreen is responsive and accurate even when using the keyboard to search for new books to buy. If you want a backlight you'll have to buy a more expensive eReader such as the Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Glo.

The battery should last around a month on a single charge, although this will drop dramatically if you're connected to a Wi-Fi network. There's 4GB of storage, which is enough to hold more books than you could read in a lifetime. If you do happen to fill it up Amazon stores all your purchases on the cloud so you can download them again when needed.

The Kindle isn't available with 3G so you'll need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to buy and download books. We reviewed the £59 Kindle "with special offers" but we would happily pay £10 to never see another advert for a rubbish book we don't want to buy. Amazon plasters adverts on the lock screen and home screen and being pestered by adverts feels wrong when you're trying to enjoy a book.

Amazon's eReader interface is still the best around. Menus and settings are easy to navigate and the well-designed store makes buying new books from the device hassle-free. A lot of thought has also gone into adding extra features. When reading a book you can easily get dictionary definitions or read Wikipedia entries for certain words and phrases by tapping the touchscreen. The X-ray function also provides character and plot information for more popular titles.

Amazon has recently announced a Family Sharing function to its Kindle eReaders at long last. You need to have a latest-gen Kindle to make use of it (such as this one, the current Paperwhite or new Voyage) and then it will allow you to pair two Amazon accounts and read books freely between them. IN addition you can add up to four children's accounts, so all but the biggest families can enjoy a book without buying it repeatedly.

The new basic Kindle does everything it needs to do and does it well. If you can get over the cheap plastic finish ,and do without a backlit screen, then the £69 version (without adverts) is a great buy. For an alternative the £59 Kobo Touch is almost identical and lets you buy books from just about any ebook store, except Amazon of course.

Hardware
Screen size6in mono touchscren
Screen resolution167ppi
Storage4GB
Memory cardNo
Size169x119x10.2mm
Weight191g
Battery life4 weeks
Networking802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
PortsMicro USB
Format support
eBook supportePub, Amazon
Other file supportKindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion
Buying information
WarrantyLimited one year
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£59

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