The Kindle Store is accessible from the menu, not directly from the home screen. However, the 2012 Kindle still benefits from the excellent Whispernet delivery system.
You can browse the Amazon website, which incorporates all the ebooks of the Kindle Store, and have a title sent directly to your Kindle - as long as it's connected to a Wi-Fi network. This is a fantastic feature that is a valid reason to pick a Kindle over a competitor. You can rifle through the Kindle Store on the thing directly, but it's not much fun.
The Kindle Store offers content other than books, too. It offers newspaper and magazine subscriptions, blogs and a lending library. This only launched recently in the UK, and lets Amazon Prime members borrow a book a month for free.
Not all the books in the Kindle Store are available through the lending scheme, but this is an important addition to the Store's arsenal. Kindles do not support the EPUB format used by public library ebook lending schemes, making it the first time library-style rentals have been available on Kindles in the UK.
If you already have an ebook collection stored on a computer, it's easy to transfer files over to the Kindle. Hook up the ereader to a computer with the supplied microUSB cable and the 2GB internal memory will show up as a standard disk drive, letting you drag and drop files.
Although the 2012 Kindle doesn’t support the popular EPUB format, several other file types are. Naturally the native Kindle AZW type is in, along with PDFs, Word docs, MOBI/PRC ebooks and TXT files. JPG, GIF and PNG image files work too, although frankly the Kindle makes a terrible image viewer.
This is far from the best PDF viewer as well. Moving through PDFs feels clumsy, far less smooth and quick than it is on a Sony PRS-T1 or Sony PRS-T2. The Kindle Paperwhite is not a great PDF reader either, though.
Part of the reason why the 2012 Kindle is able to be around 50g lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite is that it uses a smaller battery. Where the top-end Kindle is rated for two months of use, this £69 model "only" lasts for a month.
By Amazon's rules, this means the Kindle will last for a half hour's use a day for around 30 days (without using Wi-Fi). Doing a quick calculation, this equates to 15 hours of solid reading - roughly a decent-sized book. However, rating battery life in an E-ink reader like this is trickier than with an LCD-screen device.
The Kindle's E-ink screen only draws significant power when what's on-screen changes - during page turns. For those embarking on a reading-leaving lounging holiday, the extra stamina of the Paperwhite will come in very handy, but for light-to-moderate readers, having to charge that little bit more often is no great hardship.
Having used a number of more advanced competitors, it's clear that the 2012 Kindle does miss out on a lot of what's great about the latest top-end ereaders. If you're going to spend a lot of time reading in bed or anywhere that's remotely dark, it's worth investing in an ebook reader with a light. And next to the Paperwhite's new interface, which puts greater emphasis on new book discovery, the oldie Kindle interface here feels a little stilted, a little old.
More improvements could have been made here, but the Kindle is a device that has generally aged extremely well. As most ereaders adopt the touchscreen wholesale, it proves there's still room out there for a button'd ereader, and at the price it's the best-made model you can hope to get.
The Amazon Kindle 2012 doesn't change all that much in the blueprint laid down by the excellent not-touch 2011 model. It's light, it's affordable and it's better-made than many an entry-level ereader. Next to the top models, which offer integrated lights and snazzier interfaces, it is starting to show its age. However, if you can't afford to splash out £100-plus, this remains an excellent buy.