Amazon’s entry level Kindle ebook reader features a 6” traditional e-Ink grey-scale screen and includes WiFi for easy access to the Kindle bookstore.
Unlike more expensive devices it lacks the touchscreen and built-in light of a NOOK Glowlight or Amazon’s own Kindle Paperwhite and, unlike a tablet, you won’t be able to download apps or play films on it.
On the plus side you get the industry standard Pearl e-ink screen which is designed to be read even in bright light and offers a high level of contrast between the text and screen.
In the absence of a touchscreen, browsing the store and navigating around the menus is achieved by a trackpad and back/forward ‘flippers’ on the side of the unit.
The system menus were fast and responsive and the on-screen keyboards easy to type with via the trackpad.
The rear of the Kindle has a flat, rubber coating to make it easier to grip but the overall thinness of the reader meant I never really felt I had a good grip on it.
I also found the ‘flippers’ to be awkwardly placed and found myself having to keep my thumbs on the edge of the reader rather than the flat bezel surrounding the screen.
Another annoying niggle is that my review unit kept losing my home network whenever it hadn’t been used for long periods of time.
Like many home broadband users with a WiFi network, I set my system not to broadcast the the network name (SSID) and repeatedly found myself having to re-enter the network name and password. A Google search implied this was a problem on earlier models as well.
The build quality is functional rather than luxurious but this is probably to be expected given the ultra-low selling price.
Using the Kindle will be a simple task even for those who are less IT aware which makes it a great choice as a ‘first reader’ or for anyone looking for a near-disposable device for their morning commute.
However more experienced ebook readers may prefer waiting for the upcoming Kindle Paperwhite which offers a touchscreen and lit display for just £40 more.