Amazon Kindle Keyboard review

22 Sep 2010

Improved hardware, tight integration with the new UK Kindle Store and an amazingly low price. A game changer

Price when reviewed: 
149inc VAT
Buy it now for 
5

Much has changed since we reviewed the previous generation Kindle around a year ago. While the hardware was impressive, Amazon’s half-hearted attempt to open up the US Kindle store to international customers left us frustrated and, crucially, without much to read. The third-generation device finally puts this right and offers slick integration with the UK book store.

The biggest change since last year, however, has nothing to do with the device itself but rather its price. The more expensive model, which includes a free 3G connection to the Kindle store costs £127 exc VAT and the Wi-Fi only model is a staggeringly cheap £93 exc VAT.

The device shows no evidence of corner-cutting, though. Amazon has beefed up the specification by doubling the available storage to just over 3GB, improving the clarity of an already excellent display and increasing the refresh rate for a slicker experience. The Kindle uses the new E Ink Pearl panel, and it's just as comfortable on the eyes as words on a page, even in direct sunlight.

Physically, the device is a little slimmer than its predecessor. Amazon has achieved this by reducing the thickness of the bevel and removing the row of number keys from the keyboard. The keyboard itself is a rudimentary affair that is, thankfully, only used during setup and for book searches. The rear-mounted speakers are surprisingly effective, though. Page turn buttons are mounted on the left and right, with forward and back replicated on both sides so you can turn pages one-handed.

Amazon Kindle

The bottom edge of the device sports a volume control and 3.5mm headphone jack along with a microUSB connector for both charging and data transfer. Finally, there's a slide/release power switch that incorporates an LED to indicate the charging state. Amazon continues to resist the temptation to adopt touch technology, but this isn’t a feature we desperately missed.

Battery life is quoted at up to one month with wireless turned off. In the real world, however, Amazon encourages you to keep it switched on so you can store the furthest point reached in a book. This is odd given that all other bookmarking is handled on the device itself and keeping the wireless on has the effect of reducing battery life by at least half. Still, two weeks is perfectly manageable given that the charging time is only around an hour from flat.

Amazon has clearly been working hard at improving the book-buying process. Order a Kindle and, on delivery, you’ll find it’s been automatically linked to the Amazon account used to buy it. This might present a problem if the Kindle is intended as a gift (you can de-link it), but otherwise it’s a nice touch as it means the only step required to buy your first book is to set up your Wi-Fi connection.

Details

Price ex VAT £127
Price inc VAT £149
Overall rating 6
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6

Screen

Screen size 6.0in
Resolution 600 x 800
Colour screen no
Touchscreen no

Battery

Integrated memory 4.0GB
Memory-card type N/A

Dimensions

Dimensions 123 x 8.5 x 190mm (WDH)
Weight 247g

File format support

Plain text yes
HTML yes
RTF no
PDF yes
EPUB no
BBeB no
AZW yes
Microsoft Word yes

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£13