back to article Amazon Kindle Touch Wi-Fi eBook reader review

Having so many unread books at home, the Amazon Kindle and its numerous variants never really captured my imagination. I just wasn’t that fussed about e-Books and using them was a slow burn, starting with iBooks on my iPhone – I’m blessed with good eyesight – followed by musing over tomes on an iPad 2. Amazon Kindle Touch e- …

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Having tried both touch and button-style ebooks

I'm coming down strongly on the side of the buttons. Touch screens are all very well, but they are difficult to use one-handed (e.g. reading in bed) and you can't just pick the thing up and carry it with a bundle of other things without putting it to sleep first, lest you discover yourself six pages from where you thought you were.

It's possible that other interfaces work better - for example, browsing - but it's not something I do, so I can't comment. Though I do notice that on my Kobo touch, my fingers are often too dry to operate the touch screen.

Hmm. At least they're cheap enough now that you can by them on a whim.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Having tried both touch and button-style ebooks

" but they are difficult to use one-handed (e.g. reading in bed)"

what are you doing with the other hand? and what are you reading?

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After this review, I really only need to know if it works with Calibre...

I have a huge Library in Calibre. (the open source eBook Library manager with format converter and ability to turn various news feeds into ePub books for nicely formatted offline reading)

They could make an awesome reader, but if I can't send it books from Calibre, I'm not interested.

Having Amazon store my books is all nice, but I'm often in places where I cannot get online easily ...or not at all

And nobody knows when they will decide to close down the internet for 'national security' reasons in more and more countries.

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Re: After this review, I really only need to know if it works with Calibre...

I can confirm that it does indeed work with calibre.

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Re: After this review, I really only need to know if it works with Calibre...

I can also confirm it works perfectly with Calibre and I regularly send books to Kindle via email

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Late Review

Considering this was released in the UK back in April it leads me to wondering whether Register writers are in the habit of just reviewing whatever they happen to have got for their birthday.

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Uh, wot they said

Both the reviewer and Neil Barnes are pretty much on the money IMHO. We have both a touch and a Kindle-4-with-buttons and there are not many reasons for paying the extra for the touch, especially if all you want to do is read books. The touch is noticeably heavier and thicker, and its propensity for turning over a page when you didn't intend to touch the screen is annoying. You also can't use the touch inside a ziplock bag: a useful ploy when reading the K4 in wet or sandy environments. And the whole touching and scrolling experience is petty clunky; not at all android/iPhone-like.

The touch wins only if you want the rudimentary mp3 player, or for anything that demands you enter text --- using the on-screen keyboard is much faster on the touch than the K4. My intention is to jailbreak it so that I can entertain myself by using its command line --- you wouldn't want to do that on the K4; it would be laborious to type "ls" or "cd".

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Holmes

Touch also wins if you also have a smart phone and tablet...

Being such a similar device, the touch habit is hard to shake.

Heck, I even find myself prodding the screen of my daughter's netbook, having got so used to being able to do so with my (docked) ASUS Transformer.

Adding a case solves the "pages changing when stuffed in a bag" 'problem', and the case with built in light is such a natural fit for the device that it really does feel like a natural part of the whole rather than a slipped on accessory.

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Anonymous Coward

6 inches is too small

Ahem, I want a bigger one. Why are all these reviews about piddly sized ereaders. I need to read a pdf doument landscape without a magnifying glass. I'd buy the the Kindle DX if it was not as expensive as a tablet at 9-10 inch in size. Perfect.

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Re: 6 inches is too small

They're 6 inches because they're designed for reading books, the most popular form-factor of which has a printed area of, about, 6 inches. If you want multi-functional, you've hit the nail on the head - spend more and get multi-functional.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 6 inches is too small

But books don't have a chunky plastic bezel around the page, and unless you're on the first or last page, they display two pages of text at a time. However, the answer is probably to shrink the bezel and have a bigger screen but keep the form factor.

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Stop

Re: 6 inches is too small

A "real" book may display two pages at a time but you can only *read* one page at a time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 6 inches is too small

> A "real" book may display two pages at a time but you can only *read* one page at a time.

Yep, but with no annoying pause or flicker in-between

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Re: 6 inches is too small

But then you turn the page and - annoying pause & flicker as the paper moves across.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 6 inches is too small

Yes, reading paper books means turning the page. There's nothing that can be done about that. I confidently expect though that ereader displays can and will improve.

I get that you like ebooks, but why does that mean defending all of the current shortcomings? If the technology improves, will you cling stubbornly to your laggy, bulky, grey-on-grey jobbie?

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I think some of the reviewer's optimism over various things being likely to improve is maybe a bit misplaced. Although the hardware has evolved a bit from the original Kindle, as far as I can see the actual operating system/UI seems to have stagnated. I remember reviewers of the original saying they expected book cover thumbnails to be imminent, and the 'experimental' web browser and MP3 player still seem to be pretty much the same experimental format as they were at launch. Has somebody forgotten what the experiment actually was? There's a very good argument that this is just an ebook reader and shouldn't start becoming a bloated tablet wannabe, but surely there's still some scope for an update to the user experience?

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Kindle Touch has almost the same hardware of an iPhone4. But Amazon is not spending enough to ensure a proper OS and user interface. Their Kindle apps for iOS and Android are much better. That's the real only issue with the Kindle Touch right now. It can be fixed and things improved if only Amazon spent the needed resources on it.

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Anonymous Coward

resources are not the problem; it's bad decision-making in higher management.

Amazon's too damn conservative in decision making about Kindle products. It's like they're terrified to do something bold, or takes more than one release to create. All of the features mentioned above have been posed internally to Amazon, and shot down before they ever made it to Jeff.

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Joke

outputs a 16-level greyscale

Does that mean this ebook reader is not compatible with the literary masterpiece that is Fifty Shades of Grey then?

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Gimp

Re: outputs a 16-level greyscale

The only redeeming factor of that book is that it spells 'grey' correctly. And you should have used this icon.

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mp3s?

"However, I do rather expect this to be improved upon as Amazon surely has an iTunes-style music downloads plan for its portable devices."

Given that the mp3 player hasn't changed in the 5 years since the first Kindle was released, I wouldn't get your hopes up too much there. Plus consider that with virtually no storage and no SD slot, it would be completely useless as a media player anyway. It's there because they can, not because they actually plan on doing anything with it.

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Anonymous Coward

meh

I ready Amazon ebooks on my 7" Samsung GT1000 and my Kindle 3g (the one with the keyboard), and I can safely say the GT get more use. Being backlit, I can switch the black page with white txt, drop the brightness down to minimum and read perfectly in a darkened room while the missus is snoozing. I can use touch screen, or the volume rocker to change pages, I can view book covers, I can browse the Amazon store books easily.

Or I can fire up the Kindle, switch on a light, struggle to find a book on the store, have to hunt about for the book I wanted (I tend to download a few at a time), unable to find it quickly by the bookcase with covers, have to work out if my book is in Archive or if its on my main page.

Basically its about time Amazon revamped the GUI for the Kindle to match the apps they've released for Android and IOS. Do it now, do it right!

Oh and give me more free internet with my Kindle 3g, I don't use it that much but if I hit my limit I'll be smashing it off a wall and switching to whatever that shit is that WHSmith now sell.

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Still want epub...

...still NEED epub. Also ever since Amazon screwed Stanza on the iPhone I have less interest (or confidence) in Amazon.

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Re: Still want epub...

Each to their own. I've had a Kindle for two years and personally I've never once felt the need to put an epub file on it. Every book I've added to mine has come from Amazon or Project Gutenberg, in the correct format.

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Too cheap to be great

I've taken to the Kindle wi-fi (non-touch) with a vengence since being given one a few months back. Love it to bits, but there's much room for improvement. With ebook sales now overtaking print at Amazon you'd think they would be pushing hard to capitalise on it and improve the experience. My guess is that they can't provide the improvements because they've priced them to break even or even lose money on the hardware. The low price also prevents the competition from innovating. I think we're stuck with this functional but lackluster device until Amazon decide the public are fully converted to ebook and will pay more for the hardware.

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Does the Kindle allow you to read e-books? Yes

Is the screen hard on your eyes? No

Does the battery last a long time? Yes

Could it be more like a smart phone? Yes

Does it need to be more like a smart phone? NO

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Could the dedicated ebook user experience be improved? Yes

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Stop

How?

It displays the text, and it does it well. What more could you possibly want? The ability to fold the corners of the screen back?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How?

More surface area devoted to words, rather than bezel

Faster page transitions

Higher contrast screen

Oh, and a £5/month all you can read subscription service (or library as we used to call them)

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Re: How?

First point: Change the text size, character spacing & line spacing then.

Second point: It's a split second! And on the £89 Kindle & the Touch you can have faster transitions by turning off the page refresh (will cause some ghosting though, until the refresh after the 6th page turn.)

Third point: Higher contrast in what way? Do you mean that it doesn't light up? If so, well a book doesn't light up either. Put a light on, or use a book light.

Regarding the fourth point, and the others for that matter, nobody is *forcing* you to use an ebook reader of any kind. If you prefer books and libraries, use books and libraries. Even if you do buy a Kindle or something similar it doesn't mean you can no longer read "real" books, you know.

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Meh

Re: How?

Before I begin let me state that the Kindle is probably my most used and most loved gadget.

However, the major failing for me is the library side of things. My Kindle can store 1400 books according to Amaazon. Finding anything in that would be impossible. I currently have around 150 on there (most sideloaded using Calibre) and it is already bad enough.

Collections are a good start but are very fiddly. If they want to make it better a simple way would be to allow multiple-selections to be added to a Collection in one go e.g. select all Steven King and transfer to Steven King Collection. At the moment each book has to be moved individually.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How?

> First point: Change the text size, character spacing & line spacing then.

No thanks - it's like reading a novelty miniature King James Bible through a letter box

> Second point: It's a split second!

It's a matter of taste but I don't like it

> Third point: Higher contrast in what way?

Equal to ink on paper (white paper!)

> Regarding the fourth point, and the others for that matter, nobody is *forcing* you to use an ebook reader of any kind...

Missed the point - I read a lot (paper, and e-books) and I don't necessarily want to own every book I read. There's no reason why there can't be an e-book library that lets you check out, say, 5 books at a time, from a vast selection (key point!), and charges a reasonable monthly fee.

I like the convenience of e-books but the technology still feels first-gen, and there's definitely space for 'business-models' that don't just mimic paper book retailing

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Re: How? @Thomas6

You're exactly right - every e-reader I've tried has been fine for a couple of dozen books, but once you get to a few hundred they're impossible. The Kobo is the best I've found, with a slider through an alphabetical author listing, but it's still fiddly and you can end up with a dozen pages to flip through to find the one you want.

Would it be really so difficult to do a primary sort by author, via 'abc', 'def' and so on? It would also be nice to be able to tag series in order without having to prefix titles with numerals... hell, it would be a start if, on finishing a book, you could (optionally) simply move back to the next book in the author list.

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Re: How?

actually the Sony Reader does let you do that.

virtually, of course. but tapping the top of a page creates a 'fold' which you can easily page back to later on.

pretty neat feature.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How?

You mean like the library? They already lend ebooks in municipal libraries in the uk. Unfortunately only in epub format with DRM, for obvious reasons, so not usable on kindle. Surprised you don't know that given you read a lot and like the idea of a library.

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Re: How?

Kindle Touch does this too - tap the top right corner and a "fold" appears.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How?

Yes, but sadly the three London libraries I belong to have a pitiful selection of e-books. There's only so much John Grisham a chap can read (in my case, none at all)

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Re: How?

You can add multiple items to a Collection at once, at least you can on my Kindle 3. Open the Collection, then Menu, Add to Collection. The list of books is shown and can be sorted by Author, Title etc.You can then select multiple times to add, then hit Save at the bottom.

If you use Calibre there is a Collection manager plugin you can add which allows more flexibility.

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Anonymous Coward

Kompared to Kobo

I bought the other half a Kobo Touch for her birthday (after the review on El Reg) and thankfully she likes it (for holiday and travel use onlty I might add), as I do too. The review was pretty accurate.

The other day I was visiting a client who had bought his wife a Kindle Touch. He asked me to show her how to buy a book on it.

I must admit the overall experience of using the Kindle was markedly inferior to using the Kobo. I found it rather clunky and nowhere near as smooth. I also noticed quite a bit of ghosting of previous pages visible in the white areas of new pages.

I think I'm glad I bought the Kobo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kompared to Kobo

I've to agree, of the two, the Kobo is better, not perfect unfortunately, just better, tried the Kindle, then the Kobo. Bought the Kobo. There is also the statement that WHS&Kobo have made 'We will not do an Amazon, when you've bought a book, it's yours. If we foul up, we will not be removing them from your device' (paraphrased).

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Sony Reader is better

Same size, slightly lighter (although you can't tell), reads more formats, same screen (same as every other reader on the market), little more expensive, I think it looks nicer but that's a matter of opinion.

Why is it better?

Works with UK library services. Just last night I finished reading a book, in bed, few taps later - borrowed another and started reading that.

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From reading here

it seems there are two main classes of readers: those who basically install a book at a time, read it, then get another, and those who carry their entire library around (or as much of it as can be conveniently managed). Is this the case?

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Re: From reading here

I generally have no more than three or four books on my reader at any one time. Unlike my girlfriend who often has several books on the go at once, 99% of the time I'm only reading one at a time. I'll often drop sets to read through on there - like doing all of Mieville's Bas Lag books back to back last month. I delete books from the reader when I'm done (or return them if they're library books). My library lives on my computer where it can be neatly organised in directories and/or via calibre, and backed up and so on.

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Anonymous Coward

This review is for last year's Kindle, only just released in GB in April.

There are new Kindles coming soon, but don't hold your breath for improvements to be released across the pond in a timely fashion because Jeff Bezos doesn't care about Kindle use outside the U.S.

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