Amazon Kindle 4 Review

 

The advent of hand-held communication devices has largely changed many sectors of life. With the introduction of e-books and e-book readers, those who love reading stand to benefit the most. There are currently many e-book readers in the market. However, the Kindle 4 remains one of the most talked about gadgets in the market today. Alongside the Kindle Fire Tablet and the Kindle Touch, it is the latest addition to the already overflowing Amazon e-book reader franchise. Compared to these two, the Kindle 4 can be viewed as the basic and streamlined model. Just in case you are curious, it is also the most affordable reader of the three. This guide will help you understand everything this e-book reader has to offer.

Note that there are two price ranges with the Kindle 4:

  • Sponsored Ad version ($79)
  • Regular ($110)

Both "models" are identical except the $79 version will show occasional non-intrusive ads.

kindle 4

Before you dash into any details, it is worth noting that the Kindle 4 exists in two different models. This is to ensure that every shopper can find one that best suits their needs. The first one, also called the non-ad version, sells for just about $ 109. It can be shipped to buyers in over 170 countries outside the United States. On the other hand, the special offer model is only available in the United States. It is slightly more affordable, retailing at a price close to $ 79. The slight difference is that the special offer model runs coupon deals and several other advertisements on its screensavers as well as on its bottom screen banner. If you aren’t prepared to put up with these advertisements on your homescreen, then this definitely isn’t your model.

Specifications / Features of the Device

When shopping for any electronic gadget, the first things you need to look at are the features offered. This will always help you find out whether or not the gadget will meet your needs. In addition, the features give you an appropriate basis for comparing a number of gadgets in the market before making a buy. Here are the specs of the Kindle 4 that you might want to consider before opening your wallet:

  • A six-inch E Ink Pearl display
  • 800 x 600 pixels in resolution
  • 16 different levels of grayscale
  • An 800MHz processor
  • Language interface with many options such as English (UK and US), French, German, Italian, Spanish and even Brazilian Portuguese.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11 b/g/n)
  • 2GB of internal memory, of which 1.25GB is available for your storage
  • Absolutely free cloud storage
  • Micro USB 2.0 port
  • Supported formats include TXT, PDF, Kindle (AZW), PRC and unprotected MOBI
  • Partial page refresh settings
  • A long battery life of up to 4 weeks
  • 5.98 ounces in weight
  • Dimensions of 6.5 x 4.5 x 0.34 inches
  • A price of $ 79 at Amazon

What’s in the Box?

kindle 4 box

When you go shopping for an electronic gadget, you should always know every little thing that ships with the package. This is especially important when you are buying products from an online store. The story isn’t any different when shopping for the Kindle 4. It is only after you know what the package contains that you will assess whether or not you are getting value for your money. In addition you will never fall victim to unscrupulous dealers who separately sell additional accessories. Here are the items contained in the Kindle 4 box:

  • The Kindle 4 e-book reader itself
  • A USB cable for charging and connectivity purposes
  • A getting started booklet

With such a small package, you do not need to worry about outrageous shipping costs. The gadget comes with few accessories since you do not need to run any settings or configurations before using it. You can start using it immediately you unwrap it from the package. The USB cable provided will be very important since there is no dedicated charger provided. The user manual provided will help you find your way around the gadget. However experienced you may be with Kindle e-book readers, do not make the mistake of throwing this booklet away.

Performance

Over and above anything else, the most important feature of any gadget you buy is its performance. One of the biggest performance parameters of e-book readers happens to be the screen. Since that’s where all the reading and navigation is done, you want the screen to be at its very best. The Kindle 4 shares the same E-Ink screen as the previous Kindle models. This display boasts an 800 x 600 resolution as well as 16 varied grey-scale modes. The matt screen surface of this reader is more than just legible even in the amount of sunlight that reduces glossy LCD’s to pure glare. Unfortunately, this display doesn’t have any backlight. This means that you will still need your reading lamp at night.

According to Amazon, the Kindle 4 refreshes pages 10% faster than previous models. However, this improvement isn’t that easy to notice. The most conspicuous improvement is the visual way with which the page changes. This time round, the device does not do a page flick to all-black prior to redrawing. Only the areas that need to change flicker and redraw, giving a much more elegant appearance. Every few pages a full-page refresh will occur. Unfortunately, the absence of full refresh slightly undermines the text quality between refreshes. However, you can always download an update to switch to the old refresh system if this doesn’t go down well with you.

Kindle 4 versus Other Readers in the Market

Before you decide whether or not to purchase the Kindle 4, it is important to assess how the device fares when pitched against some of the veteran gadgets in the industry. This will help you find out whether or not the new device is worth purchasing, or whether you should just stick to what you have. You will be surprised that irregardless of its extremely low price, the Kindle 4 isn’t that far away from even the very best in the scene. This guide will take you through comparisons against three of the most talked about e-book readers currently on sale. By the time you are done with this section, you will know where the Kindle 4’s mettle lies.

Kindle 4 vs. Kindle 3

kindle 4 vs kindle 3

The Kindle 3 is without doubt the Amazon e-book reader that predates the Kindle 4. Whether old is gold or newer is better still remains to be seen. What is for sure is that a newer model always guarantees more features. However, the difference here is that the Kindle 4 is now selling at a lower price than the sibling model it should replace. The Kindle 4 gets the upper hand when it comes to the overall reading experience. It is not only smaller and lighter but also more comfortable to handle. In addition, it provides faster operation, reducing the time you need to go through an e-book.

When it comes to browsing through your Kindle library, the Kindle 3 surprisingly takes the lead. The introduction of the on-screen keyboard on the Kindle 4 has made browsing files quite a tedious task. The introduction of the directional controller doesn’t make matters any easier. The Kindle 3 also guarantees a slightly better shopping and internet browsing experience and longer battery life. However, the Kindle 4 makes up for these inadequacies by providing better adaptability to the user’s preferences. By replacing the English keyboard, Amazon now allows users to operate with the language they are more comfortable with. With its non-ad model selling for 20% cheaper, the Kindle 4 is always a good bargain.

Kindle 4 vs. Sony Reader Wi-Fi

sony reader wifikindle 4

The competition between Sony and Amazon e-book readers has been quite interesting to watch from the sidelines. How Kindle readers have managed to lower Sony sales despite being less advanced gadgets remains a mystery. However, Sony has moved fast to restore its status by introducing Wi-Fi connectivity through the Sony Reader Wi-Fi. In terms of design, the Sony Reader Wi-Fi has the upper hand, thanks to its premium build quality and lovely gloss finish. The gadgets are equally comfortable to handle since the Sony is a little bit smaller while the Kindle happens to be slimmer. Sony also boasts to have the lightest six-inch reader in the market, and its square design makes it easier to slip into pockets.

In terms of reading, the two are evenly matched as they both come with an E-ink display and a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels. Navigation is simpler on the Sony Reader since it has touchscreen capabilities. When it comes to storage and connectivity, you can barely separate these two devices. The battle clearly won by the Kindle 4 has to be the content one. The Amazon e-book database is yet to find a match from among its competitors. The Kindle also offers longer battery life, and can even be charged using the provided USB cable. Needless to say, the Kindle 4 is way more affordable than the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, which currently sells for $ 129.

Kindle 4 vs. Nook Simple Touch

kindle 4nook simple touch

Nook readers have for a long time been the charm of a very big section of the readers market. With gadgets such as the Nook Simple Touch, this doesn’t look like changing any time soon. The design of this reader alone will leave you without words. With its matt finish, wide borders and a rubbery back, the word gorgeous is surely an understatement. The good news for buyers is that the superb qualities of the Nook persist to the inside. The gadget is more suited to extended reading as a result of the wider bezel. The indentation towards the back makes it many times more ergonomic than the Kindle that just has a flat back.

The buttons on the Nook are better done, helping you navigate better as you read. However, these two devices are inseparable when it comes to screen quality. With both having E-ink Peal screens, any differences in quality will only depend on the lighting conditions. In terms of cost, the Kindle 4 will definitely cost you less money. However, you can’t help but feel that the Nook Simple Touch is better suited for longer reading hours.

Hardware

kindle 4 buttons

One of the most important considerations when buying a gadget is the kind of hardware on offer. Not only must it be robust but it should also be adaptable enough to work with the latest software in the market. This guide will take you through some of the hardware components that feature on the Kindle 4.

Page-Turn Buttons

Page portability is always a critical factor whenever you go shopping for an e-book reader. Complementing the sleek design of the Kindle 4 is a set of four page-turn buttons located on the edge of the gadget. These buttons conveniently run along either side of the screen. A number of users might have issues with the page buttons since they are quite slim and run very close to the edge. However, this could also be a plus as it makes them easier to use than those on the Kindle 3. Their perfect location also ensures your thumb will rest on the page-forward button irrespective of the hand you are holding it with. Towards the base is a simple power button replacing the slider in the past models.

5-Way Navigation

Even from the bottom, the Kindle 4 remains a very comfortable device to handle. A number of users will surely wish the five-way navigation skipped pages just like the page-turn buttons. However, you will have to settle for skipping chapters, at least for now. Anyway, you can cross your fingers and hope Amazon make short-press to turn pages and long-press to turn chapters the next time out. At the bottom of your screen will be the same five-way nav controller that was on the Kindle 3. To the right you will find the menu and home buttons while the left the keyboard and back button.

Keyboard

You must have noted already that the Kindle 4 does not ship with a physical keyboard or any such input device. This means that you will have to make do with the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard button will be of great importance every time you need to bring up or close down the on-screen keyboard. In addition, the 5-way controller will enable you scroll between the letters and other characters. The navigation is pretty fast and the operation quite impressive. However, if you are planning on writing a chunk of notes or run extensive searches, the Kindle 4 probably isn’t the gadget for you as things will get tedious. The good news about the search tool here is that you will get suggestions after typing the first few letters.

Other Hardware Components

The story of the Kindle 4 hardware is more a matter of what it lacks than what it has. A number of features associated with the Kindle are conspicuously absent. If you have used a Kindle reader before, you are probably accustomed to features such as listening to audio books and speech-to-text. Unfortunately, the Kindle 4 expects you to somehow make do without these audio features. There might not be 3G connections, but the Wi-Fi provided can always compensate. The gadget comes with a six inch E Ink Pearl screen, 2GB of internal storage that can hold up to 1400 e-books, an 800MHz processor, free cloud storage and a battery life to the tune of 4-3 weeks.

About the PC Software

Amazon has earned an enviable reputation due to the many options they always provide for their clients. When you are no longer in reading directly from your Kindle 4, you can always access your Kindle database from your personal computer. The only thing you need to do is to download the software known as Kindle for PC. You can always get the latest version at Amazon and many other websites that offer genuine support software. Even when you do not have your reader around, this software will make sure you still enjoy the best possible reading experience. All you need is a hundred or so megabytes of free space on your PC that runs on Microsoft XP or any other more recent operating system.

There are many features that you will enjoy the moment you are done installing Kindle for PC on your computer. Here is a list of some of the most important features that you might want to try out:

  • Collection support allows you to remotely control your Kindle library. Organizing your e-books will become much easier than before.
  • Localized application language in Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese and Italian.
  • It automatically synchronizes the last page you read as well as the annotations between devices.
  • Creating new notes, bookmarks and even highlights and managing the ones you had already created on your Kindle.
  • A more powerful search utility for words or phrases within the document you are reading.

With such an appealing array of additional features, there is no doubting that the Kindle for PC will revolutionize reading experiences for quite a number of users.

Supported File Formats

When you are buying an e-book reader, you should always consider the kind of files that are going to be supported. You do not want to spend almost a hundred dollars on a gadget that isn’t going to support some of the documents you need to read. Fortunately, the Kindle 4 supports a large variety of file formats. These include:

  • PDF files
  • TXT files
  • Kindle (AZW)
  • Unprotected MOBI

With these formats, you can be sure to comfortable read most of the documents you have in your library.

Memory

There is absolutely no point in having a gadget that can hardly store the files you need. Despite many supported file formats boasting minimal size, you still need to have more than enough memory on your gadget. The extra memory will always ensure the device’s performance remains optimal and navigation speed is at its best. The Kindle 4 is manufactured with a generous 2GB of internal memory. With some of this accommodating the built-in software and applications, a humongous 1.25GB is left to the user’s discretion. This means that you can effectively store up to 1,400 e-books on your gadget. However much you are into reading, this is without doubt more than you will ever need.

Battery Life

Battery life is easily the biggest concern users of handheld users have raised before the manufacturers. Whether it’s laptops, smartphones, digital cameras or any other portable electronic device, users will always desire as much battery life as they could get. In this regard, the Kindle 4 will never disappoint its users. With a battery life that extends to between 3 and 4 weeks, there is very little left to be desired. This means that you can enjoy reading your e-books for just about a month before you start looking around for the USB charger. Some of the factors that contribute to this long battery life are definitely the absence of audio support and lack of backlight display lighting. Talk of turning lemon into lemonade. If you are the reader who likes carrying your e-book reader around, you won’t have to carry the USB cable around when you buy this model.

Screen Quality

Screen quality is always a very important criterion when purchasing any electronic gadget, especially an e-book reader. There have been suggestions that the Kindle 4’s E-Ink Pearl screen offers better quality than the Kindle 3. However, these two devices have exactly similar screen quality, which is more than satisfactory. The only difference is that the Kindle 4 display comes with new technology page refresh that, according to the manufacturer, refreshes 10% faster than the Kindle 3. Unfortunately, the continued absence of backlight lighting means you will still need a reading lamp at night. But just how does this gadget fare against the extremely stiff competition in the market?

kindle 4 screen

One of the e-book readers that competes neck-to-neck with the Kindle 4 is none other than the Kindle DX Graphite. With competition coming from within, many users will be keen to see if the Kindle 4 is a step up as far as screen quality is concerned. Many users of both gadgets agree that the DX offers better quality than its competition. Unlike in the Kindle 4, you can never see black lines from the previous page when using the DX Graphite. In addition, crisp quality texts are more than just guaranteed when using the Kindle DX Graphite. Other more expensive readers such as the Nook Touch offer better screen quality than the Kindle 4. However, considering its price of just $ 79, the Kindle 4 offers impressive screen quality.  

Build Quality and Design

kindle 4 body

The very first thing that hits you when you spot the Kindle 4 is its design. With a mass that hardly hits the 6 ounce mark, the light gadget is very comfortable to operate, even with just one hand. Amazon did a good job to respond to the design issues users raised with previous Kindle versions. Not only did they come with an awkward keyboard but thy looked less attractive in their light texture plastic bodies. Please note that the Kindle 4 also comes with a plastic casing. The difference is that it neither looks nor feels like plastic. The front of the Kindle 4 boasts a smooth metallic finish that gives it that desired classy look. To its back is a somewhat rubber feel which adds to the grip, making sure you won’t drop your reader every now and then.

The Good

In a world that is fast changing, models will always come and go. However, the duration any gadget stays in the market will always depend on the advantages users get to enjoy. The Kindle 4 will never let you down in this regard. Here are some of the cons of this e-book reader:

  • It comes with a solid build quality that makes it a very durable gadget even when exposed to harsh environmental conditions.
  • It is the most affordable E Ink e-book reader currently in the market. This makes it more accessible to a large number of users.
  • It also offers partial page refresh settings as well as fast page turns. With this, your e-book reading experience will be no different from reading ordinary books.
  • The Kindle 4 boasts a nice design and admirable ergonomics, making it a gadget you will want to always carry around.
  • With the Kindle 4, you also have the freedom to change to the language you are most comfortable with. In addition, it also comes with dictionaries that will ensure the vocabulary and grammar is pin-point.
  • Being an Amazon gadget, you will enjoy access to the vast library of e-books that Amazon has become famed for. Free library books and a number of periodicals are also being offered these days.

The Bad

However hard manufacturers work on a gadget, there can never be one perfect one. This is probably due to the insatiable and ever-changing nature of the market’s demands or the fast pace with which technology is improving. The Kindle 4 is no exception to this rule as users can’t help but feel that a few things could have been done better. Here are some of the cons you will have to put up with when you purchase this reader:

  • If you are an avid listener of music, you are bound to be let down. This reader comes with no audio support meaning you can never listen to music.
  • When it comes to doing any editing work or even running searches, you will discover that the on-screen keyboard that comes with this gadget is quite tedious.
  • A number of Kindle applications, active content as well as games do not run perfectly on this device.
  •  Due to the lack of audio support, you will not be able to listen to audio books. In addition, advanced capabilities like speech-to-text don’t exist here.

The Bottom Line

Looking at the kind of features the Kindle 4 puts to the table, there is no disputing that the Kindle 4 is the best e-book reader the market has to offer those n a somehow restricted budget. Like any other gadget, it has its own fair share of flaws. The lack of audio support for instance is likely to turn away quite a number of buyers. It receives stiff competition in the design of its sibling model, the Kindle Touch. This is also quite a bargain in that it offers more robust features despite selling for just $ 20 more. However, for those who can do without audio support and touchscreen capabilities, the Kindle 4 is a great bargain, especially since it sells for just $ 79.

You are probably wondering why the Kindle 4 manages a price way below all its competitors. This affordable price is as a result of the rich advertising that will be running on your homescreen. This is why the non-ad versions will cost buyers a no-nonsense $ 30 more. With this new price, the Kindle 4 price starts to rub shoulders with many other readers in the market. For instance, the Kobo Touch and the Sony PRS-T1 both sell for $ 129 while the Nook Touch currently sits at $ 99. All these readers are worth checking out, especially if you need to experience a whole new set of features. This notwithstanding, the Kindle 4 still remains the best possible budget purchase at the moment.

Wrap Up and Final Thoughts

There are nearly as many e-book readers in the market as there are users. This is why it is impossible to point at any gadget and laud it as the best. In the same breath, the Kindle 4 is not the ideal e-book reader for just any type of user. Manufacturers always design gadgets with a given class of users in mind. The Kindle 4 is thus a perfect device for the low budget users who do not engage in very extensive reading. In addition, it is not the best buy if you desire to use audio or internet features alone. However, for a price way below $ 100, this gadget guarantees value for every dollar you pay.

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Amazon Kindle 4

Price: $79 - $109

Buy on Amazon.com