Amazon Kindle review

£69
Price when reviewed

When Amazon launched last year’s £89 Kindle we were gobsmacked. It was the best ebook reader on the market, yet it was cheaper than most of the competition as well, and Amazon has repeated the feat this year, knocking a further 20 quid off the price.

If we’re honest, Amazon could have simply reduced the price and we’d have still loved it, and at first glance that looks like what it has done. Aside from the obvious colour change from gloomy grey to charcoal black, it looks an identical device.

The button cluster below the screen still consists of four small circular buttons flanking a five-way D-pad, and there are page-turn buttons on either edge so lefties will be just as at home as righties. Even the device’s single micro-USB port, power LED and button are in the same (some might say impractical) position on the bottom edge.

Amazon Kindle (fifth generation)

Take a look at the specifications sheet, and again you’ll struggle to tell the two models apart. File format support remains as limited as ever, with only PDF, TXT, MOBI and PRC supported natively. As with previous models you can email HTML, DOC and DOCX files to Amazon and have them converted and delivered via Wi-Fi automatically, but there’s still no sign of EPUB support, whether DRM-protected or not.

Under the hood, meanwhile, there’s 2GB of storage, with around 1.25GB available to users, enough Amazon says for storing around 1,400 books, although clearly it doesn’t have PDFs in mind here. The new reader is also just as stripped down in terms of its features as its predecessor. There are no built-in speakers or headphone socket, so lovers of audiobooks will have to look elsewhere.

It’s a little disappointing that Amazon hasn’t chosen to update the software. The spartan front end is looking increasingly basic as time wears on. However, we’re willing to forgive that in the light of the changes it has made. The screen is the big thing – the core of what made the Kindle great in the first place – and although resolution remains at 600 x 800 quality has been improved significantly.

Amazon Kindle (fifth generation)

First, the ‘page’ background is closer to white than before, which throws the text into sharper relief. Amazon also claims to have made its “hand-tuned” fonts blacker, a difficult thing to measure, but the overall impression is that this is the closest to real print on paper on any ebook reader we’ve seen. It even looks better than the Kindle Paperwhite’s screen, although not with the light turned right up, of course.

Amazon has also improved performance slightly, with partial page refreshes taking 0.4 seconds, down from 0.6 seconds last time out. As before, in default settings, the Kindle carries out a full refresh only once every six page turns, and this takes a little longer at 0.7 seconds.

Amazon didn’t need to change much with its basic Kindle, but the lower price, improved screen quality and faster performance cement its place as the best basic ebook reader around. It may not be as exciting as the Paperwhite, but it will probably be far more popular.

Screen

Screen size 6.0in
Resolution 600 x 800
Colour screen no
Touchscreen no
eBook screen-refresh time 0.4 seconds

Battery

Integrated memory 2.0GB
Memory-card type N/A

Dimensions

Dimensions 114 x 8.7 x 165mm (WDH)

File format support

Plain text yes
HTML no
RTF no
PDF yes
EPUB no
BBeB no
AZW yes
Microsoft Word no

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