- Good screen
- Excellent ebook infrastructure
- No Paperwhite-like light
- Black finish shows up E-ink contrast issue
Review Price £69.00
The Amazon Kindle has become the ereader to own, much as the iPod became the signature MP3 player back in the noughties. Amazon hasn't become complacent because of the series's popularity - the new Kindle Paperwhite remains our ebook reader of choice. However, the budget model looks and feels much like the non-touch version released in 2011. Given this great starting point, and with a few tweaks made, this a superb buy if you don't want a touchscreen, though.
Amazon Kindle 2012 - Design
This year's lower-cost Kindle makes just a few design changes to the formula setup by the 2011 model. It doesn't have a touchscreen, relying entirely on clicky buttons instead, and it's still much lighter than the top-of-the-range Kindle Paperwhite.
At 170g, the Kindle is a similar weight to the Sony PRS-T2 and Kobo Glo - the outlier is the chunky Paperwhite, rather than the non-touch Kindle. However, the weight and build of the device are hard to fault. Its body feels reassuringly dense but is light enough to hold for hours without causing twitch-inducing muscle spasms.
The boldest design change here from last year's model is the colour. In the past, Kindles all had grey bodies, which helped to mask the grey-ish quality of E-ink screens, but now the whole Kindle range has gone black. If there's one ereader that'll suffer from this change, it's this £69 model - the Paperwhite has a contrast-increasing light and the Kindle Fire models use LCD screens that don't have the low-contrast look of E-ink. We'll cover the effects later.
Materials used in the construction of the ereader have changed slightly too. In the 2011 Kindle, the edges of the ereader were metal, but this time they're finished with black plastic. In-use, you'll barely notice the difference as the parts that come into contact with your fingers use the Kindle-staple soft touch plastic. The entire rear of the device uses this soft finish, and its silken surface is a treat for the fingertips.
The rear success of the non-touch Kindle design is something that was present and correct in the 2011 edition. The page turn buttons are superbly designed, the page forward button resting under your thumb naturally whether you hold the ereader in your left or right hand, while the page back button is rightly relegated, given a smaller button above.
The 2012 Kindle's other buttons are just the same as the previous ereader, too. There's a central D-pad used to flick through the menus, and a quartet of shortcut buttons - back, keyboard, menu and home.
Using such an array of buttons means that this Kindle isn't quite as pure-looking or attractive as the beautifully simple Kindle Paperwhite, but the move to a black body wins the new £69 Kindle a half-handful of cool points. It would arguably look better if the sides weren't glossy, though.
Although not afraid to plaster its body with buttons, the 2012 Kindle keeps its connections as simple as possible. There's just a microUSB slot, used to charge the internal battery and transfer ebooks.
Some other ereaders let you expand upon the memory and plug in headphones, but here there's no audio playback whatsoever and you're stuck with the 2GB of internal storage, 1.25GB of which you have access to. The 2012 Kindle has Wi-Fi, but there's no 3G option - as there is with the Paperwhite model.
Should we mourn the loss of periphery features? We think not, as the ereader is one of just a few gadgets these days that thrives as a single-function device.
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