Update: The Kindle 4 is ready to buy now. The lowest priced Kindle Reader yet, it is available both with or without sponsored ads and screensavers. Pictured on the right the new sleeker design is also adopted by the new Kindle Touch Reader.
Kindle 4 Hands On Review
Well I’ve been playing with my new Kindles for a while now, and I have to say I am never going back to the keyboard model! Of course you can read the more technical details of the ebook readers below. But if you would like a completely unscientific look at why I think this is the best Kindle yet, here we go:
Kindle 4 Plus Points
- Well the price is pretty amazing, but then I’m not paying for things I personally don’t need (but others might use).
- No ugly keyboard! Just a simple 5 way controller and 4 buttons for things like the home screen. It’s really easy to use.
- Improved paddles for page turning (I used to knock them somehow on the 3rd generation model).
- Unbelievably light and small – it makes the older models feel huge!
- Totally intuitive to use immediately.
The Potential Down-side
- No audio – I never use it so not an issue for me.
- Only comes with wi-fi (there isn’t a 3G option) which is fine so long as you have a wireless home router or spend lots of time at Starbucks!
- Half the memory (2GB) of other models. But you still have unlimited online storage for Kindle books so this isn’t a biggie for most of us.
- Smaller battery (part of the reason its so small and light) means you’ll have to find the charger every 3 to 4 weeks.
- Typing is a bit of a chore using a virtual keypad and arrows, but then I found it a nightmare on the tiny old keyboard and am happier to save all my typing needs for when the laptop is on!
Kindle 4 Verdict?
Well, you can probably tell I personally love the latest dinky little ebook reader. But, I do understand it isn’t for everyone. If you need 3G or you love typing on your Kindle this probably isn’t the best one for you.
But at the price, it is exactly what it should be; a dedicated eBook Reader that excels at being just that and doesn’t waste time trying to be much more!
The Kindle 4 Announcement:
It was a relative surprise announcement that more than one new reader would be introduced in the autumn of 2011. We were expecting a tablet, but not to get a whole range of new e-ink based products too.
All the new Kindles come without the traditional keypad used on earlier models. Some will love this, but others that do order content, or surf directly on their current ebook reader might not be quite so comfortable using the on screen keypad included in the new models.
New Kindle 4 Specification
Well the latest line of ebook readers are smaller, lighter and faster than the previous models. The same Pearl E-ink is being used for the displays so don’t expect any difference to how great text looks on these little beauties. The key points that most of us will want to know are:
1 Kindle 4 Details
This is smaller than ever with a size of 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″ and a weight of only 5.98 ounces. The storage capacity is less than previous models but still good enough for most of us at around 2GB or 1400 books. The battery is smaller (and lighter) too, so this will only last around a month.
There is no keypad, instead you use the five way controller for everything. An on screen keypad which you will need to navigate with the controller can be used for notes etc. For those of us that really do simply want to read on their Kindle this is not an issue, and personally I think it is worth it to do away with the extra space the keypad takes up.
The very best bit is that the 4th generation Kindle is cheap, really cheap. On release they are priced at $79 for one with sponsored ads and special offers, or $109 for the ad-free model.
This is a nice little package, it comes with wi-fi only and has smoother, faster page turns than previous models.
The perfect budget Kindle for those that love to read.
It doesn’t have any audio, unlike the rest of the ebook reader range.
2. Kindle Touch Details
Also released on 28th Sept was the Kindle Touch Reader. You can pre-order now and shipping is scheduled to begin around 21st November. This makes it pretty likely to be something of a panic buy for Christmas since we don’t know just how much stock will be available then. No surprise then that lots of people are ordering very early in deed!
Anyway, what do we want to know about this then?
Well, firstly this has the same battery, display and storage as the Kindle 3 (now called the Kindle Keyboard). Where it differs is in size, look and navigation. The whole thing is smaller at 6.8″ x 4.7″ x 0.40″ and only 7.5 (wi-fi) or 7.8 (wi-fi + 3G) ounces.
There are actually four versions available. They are all pretty much identical. A version with only wi-fi comes with or without sponsored ads, and a version with both 3G and wi-fi comes in the two choices as well.
The big change is the use of touch-screen technology. The keypad is gone and there are no external controls, everything is done with touch. Because IR touch technology is used there is no extra layer on the display so moving to touch-screen has no impact in the clarity of the view.
Kindle 4 – Better Than the Old Ones?
This is difficult. If you love keypads you won’t like the new models! But don’t panic as the keyboard models are still being sold anyway. Personally I think the smaller and lighter feel more than makes up for the loss of a keyboard. Plus you get X-ray technology that lets you find out tons of cool information about whatever you’re reading.
The actual displays are still 6″ but you get to hold a lighter even more portable gadget which I think makes the Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch better than the rest. But, I don’t type on my reader!
And now back to our original article…
We just love the Kindle here. But, we also love new things, advances in technology and the chance for a gadget that is already great, to become even more fantastic. That’s why we’re already wondering about the Kindle 4. What will we be offered next by the world’s best selling ebook reader?
Kindle 4 Possibilities
Well of course Amazon aren’t going to let on yet, as to what their next generation reader will be like. But, based on consumer likes, market trends, and some cool advances in the technology behind these electronic reading devices, we can make a few educated guesses as to what it will be like:
- Full color Kindle? Until recently this seemed like something only likely in the far distant future. But since the guys that make e-ink have now created a full color version of their display technology (e-ink Triton) this is perhaps not so unrealistic. In fact Hanvon are already set to give the world the first color e-Reader based on this technology late in 2011.
- Kindle Touch Screen? The world, it seems has yet to get over its fascination with touch screen technology. In fact, one of the things that people now tend to do when given a new gadget with a relatively large display, is to touch it. We find touch technology really easy to navigate and are demanding it for more and more of our personal electronics. Since rumours began in Jan 2010 that Amazon had bought out a touchscreen display technology company, it seems like this advancement is bound to come sooner or later.
- A 7″ Kindle? With the tablet pc growing more popular by the day, and the Nook Color giving us a slightly larger ebook reader it might make sense for Amazon to do the same. If a new seven inch Kindle display version were released it might provide a good vehicle for offering the more costly options of touch-screen and full color, without eliminating the great Kindle 3 and its super low price-tag. It might also prove to be a far more popular “larger” Kindle Reader than the nearly dead in the water DX.
Would We Buy the Kindle 4?
We know what is possible for the next generation reader, but would any of us actually want these options?
With regards to the Kindle in Color? Well, to be honest I am pretty sure that the majority of current Kindle owners are more than happy with monochrome displays since they are primarily reading fiction. But that isn’t to say that a color option might improve take up with young families as it would really bring the bed-time story into the digital age.
And, a Kindle Touch? Well this advancement I believe simply has to come if Amazon expect to keep their customer base away from more slick, touchy-feely tablets. Plus it would mean they could do away with the keypad, modernising the design with the option to make the whole thing smaller (yet keep the same 6″ display), or keep it the same size and give us a slightly larger display. You can see how much can be shaved off the size with the same display if you move to touchscreens by comparing the latest Sony Reader against the current Kindle 3.
And a 7″ Kindle Reader? This one, I am not so sure about. It does make sense to perhaps add a new reader to the range. One that is a little larger (yet not so bulky as the DX) and give it color. This would be far more useful for those wanting to view images, graphs and charts, magazine subscriptions, or children’s story books.
For my personal reading habits, the current six inch monochrome is just perfect, but I would consider a touch-screen a and doing away with the keypad a great move. I can see others being tempted by something a little larger and in full color too.
Kindle 4 Release Date
The official release date of the Kindle 4 is 28th September. The Touch Screen Kindle will start shipping around 21st November, but is available from 28th September.
This is What Our Readers Wanted From the 4th Generation Kindle:
What would you like from the Kindle 4?
- Full color display (66%, 1,438 Votes)
- Touch-screen (63%, 1,365 Votes)
- Expandable memory (34%, 743 Votes)
- Bigger screen (34%, 734 Votes)
- User replaceable battery (22%, 485 Votes)
- Better foreign character support (13%, 282 Votes)
- Something else - tell us in the comments! (4%, 77 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,172