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Amazon Kindle Touch review

Verdict

Bigger, heavier and pricier than the non-touch version, so buy it only if audio or 3G is a priority

Review Date: 24 Apr 2012

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: Wi-Fi, £91 (£109 inc VAT); 3G, £141 (£169 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

When Amazon announced the current range of Kindles, we were disappointed to find only one device – the bargain-basement Kindle Wi-Fi – would make it to the UK. Both the Fire and the touchscreen E Ink version were for US eyes only. Alas, there’s no sign of the former yet, but Amazon has belatedly brought the Kindle Touch to these shores, with a 3G and Wi-Fi version now available.

At first glance, there isn’t much different about this version. It’s dressed up in the same two-tone silvery grey plastic on the front and a soft-touch rubbery finish on the rear, the ports and power switch are on the bottom edge, and it uses the same 6in, 600 x 800 resolution E Ink screen. Sit the two side by side, however, and the differences become obvious.

This being a touchscreen, the buttons on the edges have disappeared, and so has the D-pad – although there’s still a single-function home button in its place. A more significant difference, however, is the comparative size of the two devices. This Kindle is thicker, taller, broader and 32% heavier than its brother.

The extra size is due to the optical touchscreen. As with readers we’ve seen from Sony and Kobo, this Kindle has infrared sensors embedded in a 3mm-deep rim surrounding the screen, meaning you can even flip the pages while wearing gloves. It’s still a light, compact ebook reader, though, measuring 10.5mm from front to back and weighing 216g.

Amazon Kindle Touch

The bigger question is: how does the touchscreen affect the Kindle’s fabled usability? Well, it isn’t a complicated system. Tapping and swiping on buttons, links and menus brings the desired effect. Multitouch support allows pinch-to-zoom on a web page and in the main reading view.

A new feature exclusive to the Touch is X-Ray, which gives an overview (complete with surrounding text extracts) of where in a book various terms, locations and characters are mentioned. This is a potentially useful study aid for students, but few books support the feature right now.

We didn't have a problem with fingerprints - the matte display doesn't seem to pick them up like the glass touchscreen of a tablet or smartphone. And since the optical touchscreen system interposes nothing between the screen and the reader’s eye, it looks every bit as good as the cheaper model too.

Text looks crisp and clear, no matter which of the eight font sizes it’s set to, and page refreshes take place quickly. With a standard text-only Kindle ebook loaded, we measured the page-to-page time at 0.7 seconds – the same as the non-touch model.

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User comments

Good idea

Currently use both the wifi and 3g versions of Kindle.

Often find if far more comfortable to rest my thumb on the screen area whilst reading so a touch screen could be a problem.

By bazzer on 27 Apr 2012

Not sure what a touch screen and what it brings actually adds to an ebook reader. Think I'll pass.

By Nodule on 27 Apr 2012

Restricted 3G

Isn't the 3G on the touch restricted to just amazon and wikipedia websites, whereas I believe on the older Kindle Keyboard 3G there isn't this restriction. So be careful if you're buying a touch 3G expecting free worldwide browsing.

By richardgregory on 3 May 2012

Some key points missing from review

The touch screen is not the only difference from basic Kindle. The Touch has double the battery life and double the built-in memory (4GB not 2GB). I assume the extra weight is largely due to larger battery, not touch screen.

Also, the reason for the change of navigation is explained in Kindle manual. They want users to be able to move forward through a book whether holding right or left-handed. By making the 'page forward' area stretch nearly to the left-hand side of the screen, even a leftie can do this one-handed.

I agree that the extra cost would be excessive for touch screen only, but with extra battery, memory and usability I think the Touch wins over basic model hand down.

By leftfooter on 3 May 2012

Inadequate review

Where is the comparison with other Ereaders with regard to the ebook formats supported?
As I understand it, the Kindle is the worst on the market in that regard, as it attempts to capture users into the proprietary Amazon format, which is unusable on any other reader, thus locking the user into using a company that doesn't even pay tax, and is under investigation on two continents for fixing ebook prices.
Sorry, but this is an epic FAIL as a review.

By LeePW1 on 3 May 2012

Strong stuff!

Got to agree with leftfooter. The touch navigation works well, and is quick to learn. Highlighting a word or section is by hovering on a word to get the reverse text, then releasing for the Oxford Dictionary (and other options like a Wikipedia quick window; or dragging to highlight a section the get an options window. One option is to engage the full dictionary, and this can also be interrogated in the same way, as well as having copious hotlinks.

Tapping the screen sometimes doesn't work first time, though, and a jittery tap can turn two or three pages.

And my heading? The Touch (I don't know about other kindles) has a metal frame with a strong dark metallic paint finish, a smooth front panel and a softly curved and soft-touch back panel. The speaker vents are in the metal frame, mesh-guarded from dust (see the photo above) and there's a microphone slot to the opposite side of the phone jack from the LED function light - future expansion?

My only gripe, having used my California-sourced Touch for four months and a hundred-odd books, is that the on/off button isn't level with the case like on the K4, but raised. Because I can change pages with a mere dab, I often prop the Touch up on something to read, balancing it on its base. Like this, it's easy to switch it off under its own weight! Annoying!

By davidcroucher on 3 May 2012

ebook formats and the Kindle

Amazon isn't stupid - and nor is its competition. The Kindle doesn't read ePub, the main format on other readers, and they don't read Amazon's format. All the other main formats are readable on just about all readers.

So you get to choose: Amazon, or all other stores. It's a moot point which is the best store, and regular comparisons keep us in touch. I reckon Amazon and its marketplace are all you need, and Amazon certainly does more cheap deals for Kindle than everyone else put together.

Free books are available by the hundreds of thousands now for all readers, though the standard of presentation and hyperlink, chapter and picture support in most free books is dodgy, even being kind.

It's well worth trying the free PC program for ebook organising, reading, format conversion and backup, Calibre (not the non-US spelling - it's Dutch). Whatever reader you use, this is a boon.

By davidcroucher on 3 May 2012

No Voice Guide and ebook price fixing.

I won't be buying the touch. I already have a Kindle Keyboard. The Kindle Keyboard/ Kindle 3 has a Voice Guide option that is very useful if you are Visually Impaired/blind. It reads the menus and, most importantly, the book titles on the home screen. This is unavailable on the Kindle Touch. The text on the home screen is clearer than the KK, but still not good enough without the Voice Guide. There is no option to enlarge the text on the home screen, however you can tap and hold a title and it will reveal the book description and the cover. Moving though a page full of titles and doing this with every one to try and identify the cover will take a long time! As far as I am concerned this is dreadful. I don't expect newer products to reduce accessibility. I now am not sure weather to pay for books for the Kindle or not given that the Kindle Keyboard is the only Kindle that has voice guide. Maybe I will only concentrate on free books and avoid paying for Amazon books. That being said Amazon Service is second to none.

@LeePW1 - Amazon are not "Under investigation on two continents". The other publishers are under investigation along with Apple over price fixing. Amazon discounts non price fixed books. You can tell the price fixed books in that they are invariably more expensive that the print books and Amazon tells you they are price fixed at the top of the page. You are right about Amazon not paying Corporation Tax, and the VAT paid goes to Luxembourg, however it is 3% not 20%.

By dmoriarty2 on 6 May 2012

@LeePW1

Actually, Apple are under investigation for price fixing books and trying to force Amazon out of the market.

The Kindle also handles PDF and you can convert other formats (non-DRM) into MOBI format - just got Robert Llewelyn's new book "News from Gardenia" in MOBI format from Unbound.co.uk

By big_D on 8 May 2012

I'm looking forward to colour e-ink. Also Bookeen is a company worth following, they have some good e-reader technology. www.kindlecolour.eu

By paulandsoulefe on 25 Oct 2012

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