I am excited to have a Kindle Touch in my grubby little hands tonight. Since I wasn’t expecting it until next week, it was nice to open up a box and see my new device. After a total of 30 minutes of use (most of it figuring things out), I thought I would post some initial thoughts about the Kindle Touch. I will do a more thorough breakdown as time goes by and compare it to the other Kindle devices I have worked on in future blog posts.
Size: The Kindle Touch is the same size as the Kindle 4. Very lightweight and compact. Easy on the arms and hands to hold.
Design: It is a bit disconcerting to not have a 5-way controller. I am so used to those on all my Kindles. The Kindle Touch has one button on the center of the bottom front panel. At first I thought it was the speaker – because it has 4 parallel lines, but it is the Home button. On the bottom edge of the device are the adapter port, earphone plug, and the power/screensaver button. On the backside near the bottom of the device are the audio speakers.
Original Documents: Original Documents include the Kindle User’s Guide, a document called “Things to know about your new Kindle”, and two dictionaries. I found it interesting that once I connected via WiFi I received a “Welcome Maurine” message that not only indicated they knew I had other Kindle’s but suggested the first thing I do is check out the Amazon store. Yeah – nice suggestion Mr. Bezos – but it is not going to fly.
Keyboard: The touch keyboard is slower than a physical keyboard, but much less painful than that on the Kindle 4. It was responsive and easy to use. One thing that I find extremely interesting – with the Kindle 4, Amazon added in keyboard tabs for non-English characters. I thought this was a great step towards making the Kindle an international item. However, those same characters are not available on the keyboard for Kindle Touch. It is also missing the ability to keep the keyboard capitalized.
The Touch action: The User’s Guide points out that you can use touch/tap or swipe to move through a book. Swiping from right to left advances the page, swiping from left to right turns back a page. The left side of the screen (about the width of a slim finger) can be tapped to go to the previous page. The remaining portion (most of the screen) can be tapped to advance a page. The upper portion of the screen (again – the size of a slim finger) can be tapped to open up the menu. It would be nice if they added an option to reverse the tap sections for left handed users. Paging through books was very quick. They have reduced the refresh rate on this Kindle and it makes for much faster speeds.
Confusion on Touch: The User’s Guide seems to indicate that you will never need to swipe in order to use your Kindle Touch. That touch is all that is needed. This is incorrect and I found out through a few frustrating incidents. When downloading Archived items, I wanted to advance a couple of pages, so carefully tapped the screen in between books. Wrong move! Each time I did that, I started downloading the nearby book. You do have to swipe in the Home Screen and in Archived items to advance a page. It is also going to take a while to get used to when I need to “press” instead of “tap”. The pressing motion is needed within books to highlight words, look up meanings. On the Home Screen it is needed to bring up the submenus for the books.
Downloads: Downloading content from my Archived items was extremely quick. I was very pleased to select a group of items and have them already downloaded before I went back to the Home screen.
I just read about the Xray feature. According to the Amazon website – Xray is a new feature that lets customers explore the “bones of the book.” With a single tap, readers can see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon’s community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers. I am excited to try this out and will let you know my thoughts when I have explored it.
My intial feelings on the Kindle Touch are one of excitement. I think they have a winner here. It is not perfect, but it is fast, light, and inexpensive. While I recommended the Kindle 4 as the Kindle to purchase for children and tweens, I think this might be my recommendation for all other users. I will miss having a physical keyboard, but think that the adaptation to the touch keyboard will be quick and painless. Yes, I am going to fumble about looking for buttons, a 5-way controller and other items for a couple of weeks, but this will be an interesting e-reader to have.
I’d love to hear your thoughts for any readers that purchase the Kindle Touch. Also – please leave a comment if there are any questions you have or any areas you would like me to focus on.
Bonus question: Once again – my favorite question is unanswered for an important tool I need for testing and blogging on the Kindle Touch. How do I take a screenshot? Please let me know if you find this out.
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