Amazon Kindle (2014) review: Everything you want in an e-reader except a light


Editors’ note (June 22, 2016): Amazon has unveiled an updated version of this Kindle that’s slightly thinner and lighter, and adds a few new features.

Good, better, best. That’s what you’re looking at when it comes to Amazon’s Kindle e-ink e-readers these days, with the e-reader you see here — the 2014 Kindle — representing the entry-level or “good” model in the lineup. It retails for $79 in the US, £59 in the UK, and AU$111 in Australia.

Like the line-topping Voyage ($199 in the US, £179 in the UK, not yet available from Amazon Australia), this is an entirely new Kindle (last year’s second-gen Paperwhite stays in the line, occupying the “better” spot for $119 in the US, £109 in the UK, and AU$151 in Australia). But unlike the Voyage, it doesn’t seem all that fresh and exciting, though it does have the touch-screen missing from Amazon’s previous entry-level Kindle , last updated in 2012.

In fact, it’s a little generic-looking. That said, it seems a bit better engineered than other entry-level e-readers I’ve used — it weighs in at a pretty svelte 6.7 ounces (191 grams) and measures 0.40 inch (10.2 mm) thick — and there’s something endearing about its clean, utilitarian design that seems to say, “I’m boring but you can count on me to do my job.”

That job is to store and serve up e-books (and other documents) on a screen that’s easily readable in direct sunlight. Amazon has bumped the internal storage up to 4GB in all its e-readers (it used to be 2GB), none of which have ever offered an expandable storage option. That 4GB is enough to store thousands of e-books, so, in theory, you shouldn’t need more storage. However, if you’re a PDF hoarder, this probably isn’t the e-reader for you.

Amazon has also unified all its e-readers under a 1GHz processor, so the core specs on all the e-readers are almost identical, save for the fact that the Voyage has 1GB of RAM, while its siblings have half that. That extra RAM helps make the Voyage slightly zippier.

You can also get the Paperwhite and Voyage in Wi-Fi + “free” 3G versions for $60 and $70 more respectively in the US. This entry-level model only comes in a Wi-Fi version. And as always, if you want to remove the “special offers” from the device and render it ad-free, that’ll cost you an extra $20 or £10 with any of the Kindles.

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The Kindle (2014) is 0.40 inch thick and weighs 6.7 ounces.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Unifying all the Kindles’ specs — and having touchscreens on all the devices — has enabled Amazon to offer the same Kindle experience across its e-reader line and streamline updates. The experience on all the devices is going to be pretty similar, but one key feature you gain by stepping up to the Paperwhite and Voyage is an integrated light. (Amazon sells a clip-on light accessory for the 2014 Kindle that retails for $15 or £16.)

Those models also have slightly more responsive capacitive touchscreens, while the 2014 Kindle goes with the older infrared-based touchscreen (IR sensors are embedded in the bezel).



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