Kindle 4 Review

Kindle 4 Review – Review Introduction

This is a review of the new Kindle 4 – the $79 (with Special Offers) Kindle announced by Amazon on September 28, 2011. I have had my Kindle 4 for 3 days now and have done some playing around with it.

Kindle 4 Review – Main Takeaways

My first reaction upon opening the box and taking out my new Kindle 4 was that it was “tiny, light, and kind of cute.” Lots of co-workers gathered around my desk and we compared it in size and weight to the Kindle 3.  It resembles the size of a paperback book much more than other Kindle models (except it is thinner). This is the lightest Kindle by far and reading on it for over an hour did not make my hands or arms ache. (Big Plus on weight)

This model does not include speakers or an earphone jack.   So – don’t look at it if you want text-to-speech capabilities.  I was actually thinking as I ran 18 miles yesterday that it would have been fun to have this Kindle in my pocket if the text-to-speech capabilities were there so that I could listen to a book – never wanted that on the larger Kindles. (Minus on sound – unless you are deaf or don’t care for text-to-speech).

On each sides of the device are Next Page and Previous Page buttons.  They are thinner than on the Kindle 3, but I did not find any serious problems with using them to turn pages. However, I did find that they are a bit awkward in that if I rested the Kindle 4 in my palms, I could easily access the Next Page buttons – but would have to slide my hands up to reach the Previous Page buttons (same as in other Kindles) and yet, if I moved my hands up even slightly, I was above the Next Page buttons and would have to move down to hit them.  If you have manly sized hands – I can see this being a problem. (Plus and Minus on these buttons).

Below the screen are five buttons.  The center button is the 5-Way controller – the same model as seen on the Kindle 3. The other buttons are (from left to right): Back, Keyboard, Menu, Home. The only one that Kindle users are not familiar with is the Keyboard button which brings up the virtual keyboard option. (Neutral)

The Virtual Keyboard will take some getting  used to. It has 5 tabs across the top: punctuation, small letters, capital letters, small diacritic letters, capital diacritic letters.  It is nice to see that Amazon appears to be moving towards more international functionality (I even had a hard time not putting on the initial manuals in Italian – and might add them back onto my device). However, using the keyboard reminds me of entering names in Xbox or Wii games – it gets old quick.  I would never want to type a long note or use the keyboard very much. (Minus on keyboard).

To create a note, share, or highlight a section – you move to the desired slot and press on the 5-Way. The options provided are “Create Note”, “Share”, “Start Highlight”. Not as easy as in previous versions, but I don’t think that was Amazon’s focus in this lower cost model. (Minus on combining capabilities and making them more complicated)

On the bottom edge of the device are the charging jack, a charging indicator light, and the On/Off/Screensaver button.  A USB cable comes with the Kindle 4, but no charging jack – so you have to either use your computer or purchase a separate charging jack. The On/Off/Screensaver button is a push button instead of the slide button that users have seen on other devices. (Neutral)

My initial impression of Kindle Special Offers is: 1) they are not as intrusive as I thought they might be and 2) they might even help recoup the cost of the device.  Right now I am looking into two offers that are available until October 3rd – $1 for a mystery or thriller (from a list of 100 books) and $5 for $10 worth of goods from Amazon.com (e-books not allowed nor are gift certificates). (Plus on Special Offers)

Normally I would include some screenshots of various new images that users might be interested in – but have not found a way to take screenshots on the Kindle 4.  You could do this on Kindle keyboard models with the key combination of UpArrow+Alt+G but that is not physically possible on the Kindle 4. (Negative on screenshots)

Another item I have not found a “new version” for in this model is refreshing the screen.  This is often needed when playing in games or apps or in books with lots of images and with screensavers. Maybe Amazon thinks it will not be needed – but I miss having that option.  I did stand out in the sun testing for 10 minutes and did not see any screen fading – but don’t see that always on my Kindle 2 or 3 models either – so no a fair test. (Neutral)

Kindle 4 Review – Conclusion and Overall Rating

I would give my Kindle 4 review 3.5 stars if I was looking at this as being my only e-reader I could ever purchase and I could not afford $20 more for the Kindle Touch.

That being said – I highly recommend this as an option for children and teenagers that will not be taking notes on it.  The price is low enough that you can consider it a reasonable investment, they will not spend a lot of time using the keyboard or searching the web on it, and it will allow an e-reader to get into the hands of a young reader who will want to move up in value as they get older. If I am looking at the Kindle 4 from that point of view, I would give it a rating of 4 to 4.5.  It would make an awesome birthday or Christmas gift for the young reader.

3 Responses

  1. […] Maurine reviews new Kindle at our Kindle App blog and her conclusion made me realize that Kindle 4 is close to being the Kindle for Kids –  I highly recommend this as an option for children and teenagers that will not be taking notes on it.  The price is low enough that you can consider it a reasonable investment, they will not spend a lot of time using the keyboard or searching the web on it, and it will allow an e-reader to get into the hands of a young reader who will want to move up in value as they get older. If I am looking at the Kindle 4 from that point of view, I would give it a rating of 4 to 4.5.  It would make an awesome birthday or Christmas gift for the young reader. […]

  2. The “official” Amazon-approved way of refreshing the screen always used to be Menu-Menu — basically taking advantage of the fact that Kindle does a full refresh after leaving the Menu. Does that still work?

    Screenshots are according to the interwebz under menu+keyboard, try that.

  3. Thank you, Jasper. I’ll give those a try.

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