Amazon Kindle e-reader
Amazon's newest, cheapest, smallest, simplest Kindle is, we think, its best
- Thin, light and compact body
- Excellent screen
- Very cheap
- Typing with the controller is a pain
- Wi-Fi quietly drains the battery
Amazon's newest, cheapest, smallest, simplest Kindle is, we think, its best. You'll have to be interested in buying books, of course -- just having the Kindle isn't really enough to inspire you to begin reading, and even though there are plenty of cheap books you still have to buy them -- but the Kindle makes it so easy as to be entirely painless. An occasional battery charge via USB (more often if you forget to turn off Wi-Fi when you're not using it) is all the Kindle really needs -- apart from that, it's a seamless and gratifyingly simple electronic book-reading device.
Price$ 109.00 (AUD)
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Amazon Kindle 4: Display
The display of the Amazon Kindle 4 is, in a word, excellent. If you haven’t seen an e-Ink screen before you’ll be impressed with the almost-paperlike nature of the display, and the contrast between the text and background is more than enough to be easily visible in low light.
The Kindle’s screen has a 600x800pixel resolution and can display 16 shades of grey, giving pictures a pleasantly comic-book-esque cel-shaded feel.
The screen isn’t backlit, which is a problem if you’re reading by anything dimmer than a desk lamp. You can buy add-on cases that have built-in reading lights (powered by the Kindle, courtesy of a pair of terminals on the device’s lower back panel), but if you’re going to be reading in the dark all the time an e-Ink screen isn’t for you.
Amazon Kindle 4: Interface
The on-screen interface for the Amazon Kindle is as refreshingly simple as the device’s design. It can err on the side of too stark on occasion — the home page is very basic, for example, and book titles in the store can occasionally run off the edges of the screen — but for the not-so-tech-savvy, the basic layout should be reassuring. It can take as little as four button-clicks to buy a new book, and even if you’re typing in a title the on-screen keyboard is reasonably quick to respond.
It has to be said that the on-screen keyboard is a stop-gap solution to the Kindle’s new-found input problem, though. Dealing with text input on a slow-to-update e-Ink screen would have been difficult no matter what, and the on-screen keyboard layout is clear and always responds to input, but it does mean that typing in a specific book title could take a minute rather than a few seconds. Accidentally select the wrong key and you’ve got to delete it, which is another dozen clicks of the five-way controller. Of course, this can all be avoided by using a computer to buy books from the Kindle Store, which are then downloaded to the device directly.
Amazon Kindle 4: Pricing
The Kindle comes with a few items pre-loaded — a couple of dictionaries, a user’s guide, a welcome note — but you’ll need to load it up with books if you’re keen to get the most out of it. We bought the new Steve Jobs biography and a collection of essays on the New York Times — both new releases, both available for $9.99 each. Store pricing generally seems perfectly reasonable, with many books for under $10 and newspapers for under $2.
The Kindle itself is also very reasonably priced. $109 with free shipping from Amazon is an impressive price, although Australian buyers don’t get the option of a further-$30-discounted advertising-supported device. You can also buy the new Kindle from Dick Smith stores around Australia for $139.
Amazon Kindle 4: Conclusion
The Kindle is an impressive product in almost every sense. If you’re willing to buy books — otherwise there’s no point buying an e-reader — then we can’t really find any serious faults with the new Amazon Kindle.
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GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
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