back to article Amazon Kindle 4

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was always going to grab the headlines when the retailer revamped its e-book reader line-up last month. But for many book buffs, its low-cost E Ink devices were more interesting. Amazon has been aggressively driving down reader prices, and its entry level Kindle 4 - aka the 'Kindle Touchless', a nod …


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  1. frank ly Silver badge

    re, converting ePub to .mobi

    I think that the majority of Kindle users will not know how to do this and not even be aware that it can be done. Data format and file wrangling is a rare skill among the general population.

    1. mraak


      All you need to do is send it as attachment to and it gets converted and delivered to you. I think it's written somewhere on the fourth paragraph of manual. Same goes for PDF's also, not just epub.

  2. TrickyRicky


    Personally, I'd miss the keypad; but at least the on-screen version has numbers in the same set as the letters. Unlike the Kindle 3.

  3. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Twenty quid

    I see PC World are selling the kindle (WiFi) 3 (now called the "Kindle Keyboard") for £109, a mere £20 more than this. That £20 gets you the keyboard, an extra 2GB memory and audio features. That's an awful lot for £20.

    The biggest down-side is the lack of a keyboard. Its a complete pain in the ass when you have to use the "sym" virtual keyboard on the 3 to get at non-alpha characters. Having to do that all the time would be a real show-stopper.

    For me, if I didn't already have a Kindle 3, Amazon would have to sell the 4 for something around the £60 mark for me to even consider it over the 3, though I note the Amazon UK site has stopped selling Wi-Fi only 3s

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Alt or Shift

      haven't got mine in front of me, but if you hold the Alt or Shift key (IF that even exists) then you can just type and the non alpha characters will appear. doesn't take long to learn where they are.

  4. Dick Head
    Paris Hilton

    “Though I often looked for one...

    ..., I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.”

    A sentiment we all agree with and hope will continue.

  5. clean_state

    "plain silly not to support .epub" - even sillier not to understand why

    .epub is the source format of .azw. Amazon is not asking to "convert" epubs to azw. They are asking you to compile them. The compiled format is much more efficient on the device and it is one of the reasons the device can be cheap and have a long lasting battery.

    By the way, epub has always been designed to be a source format to be compiled before distribution. It is based on HTML and you all know how badly browsers deal with HTML pages 1MB long, as books are. It does not work well even on dektop workstations with gigabytes of ram.

    It is only Adobe who started pitching their support of epub as "native" by which they meant non compiled. It wasn't better in any way, just way slower but it sounded so cool to publishers.

    So saying that the kindle is not compatible with epub is as silly as saying that a PC is not compatible with C++. Indeed, a C++ file does nothing if you click on it but it is not menat to and C++ is still the #1 choice for writing PC software. So is epub on Kindle.

    1. Northern Fop


      I have a *.epub file, then:

      1) I drag it to every reader in the world apart from Kindle. Yup, that works. I am happy.

      2) I drag it to the appropriate Kindle folder. Doesn't work. I am not happy.

      99% of people DO NOT GIVE A MONKEYS about the tech detail. They just get annoyed because it works everywhere else but their lovely new Kindle. And that's why it's 'plain silly'.

      1. Peter Lee

        Call me old fashioned, but...

        I bought a Kindle so I could download books from Amazon onto it. Books from Amazon are already in the correct format. I've no desire to download books from, say, Waterstones (the price tends to be higher for one reason) and I don't download books from the likes of Project Gutenberg, torrents etc. So I may be off-message here, but what's the problem exactly? Buy a Kindle, use it as intended with its bundled store, and it just works - end of story.

      2. Aldous


        1)drag epub into calibre (Free)

        2)click send to device

        (same goes for .mobi,HTML,CHM etc)

        Simple really. if your messing about with epubs from other publishers then you can find calibre. if your a non tech savvy type who got one as a gift then chances are you don't know what epub is and think that all ebooks come from amazon.

        native epub support not really an issue IMO

      3. Ian Watkinson

        You have an .epub file. Assumedly drm free, otherwise your are sool.

        Bought from where? Ask if they can sell you the .mobi format.

        Alternatively use calibre, like everyone else and convert it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ".epub is the source format of .azw"?

      Here's the main problem with your theory: If Amazon wanted you to "compile" epubs for the Kindle they'd provide a decent compiler rather than force people to use programs like Calibre. Amazon's automatic e-mail conversion service lets you send a Microsoft Word or an HTML document to your Kindle ... but not an epub!

      Also, I'm not convinced that an arbitrary MOBI file is necessarily more efficient on the device than an EPUB. MOBI has lots of different variants and no official documentation. It's possible that the AZW/MOBI files generated by Amazon are efficient on the Kindle, but the Kindle can also read a wider range of MOBI files. MOBI's based on HTML, too.

      For me, Amazon's motive for avoiding EPUB remains unclear.

    3. Nigel Whitfield.

      AZW and ePub are not related

      AZW is not a 'compiled ePub' by any stretch of the imagination.

      AZW is Amazon's tweaked version of the MobiPocket book format, which long predates ePub, and has its roots in the old PalmDoc format.

      ePub is based on XHTML, with various XML files describing the content, all wrapped up in a zip file and renamed.

      There are indeed tools that can convert from ePub to Mobi/AZW, but that is not at all the same as claiming that one is just a 'compiled' version of another; that's a bit like claiming that Japanese is just a compiled version of English.

      There's a wealth of information about both formats in at

    4. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      RE epub is the source format of .azw

      No, you are wrong. AZW is Amazons version of MOBI. Neither of them have anything to do with EPUB. There are several things that EPUB is capable of that MOBI isnt - such as drop caps for one. EPUB and MOBI/AZW are different formats. I haven't a clue what you are on about with this compilation business, and I'm not convinced you do either. Point me to an epub compiler please, seriously, because I never heard of such a thing until now. Also point me towards just one viewer that handles such a compiled epub. I really am curious now in case I missed something.

  6. Ian Watkinson

    Battery also hammered

    Down from 2 months, to one.

    However back in the real world, that means if you've got wireless turned on, to get your newspapers web sites etc put on it by calibre, then that's down from a little over a week to what, 3 days? Plus, where is the 3g version for those that don't have wireless? Quite a few people are happy with wired at home, and using the cable but might want the convenience of 3g when they want it. In short, cheap yes, but an improvement no..

    1. Stevie Silver badge


      Where's the 3g? I'm no expert in these things, but I (living in New York) noticed that all the new tablets and readers seemed to be eschewing phone interweb connectivity so I asked a few early adopters.

      Turns out the feature is regarded as "obsolete" because so many people have iPhones (or similar products) and use them as their wifi connection.

      Times we live in. Stuff is obsolete before you figure out what it's for.

  7. LomaxFairchild

    Poor product design?

    Reducing the size of the page turn buttons seems particularly wrong headed. Still, at least it has them. At first glance I thought you had to use the nav pad.

  8. deshepherd

    Re: Poor product design?

    Haven't used the K4 so can't tell how different the page turn buttons are ... on the K3 they are very easy to use ... but this also means I quite frequently press them by mistake!

    Loss of keyboard is no big deal for me - I think I'd see it as an improvement. The number of times I use the keyboard on my K3 is minimal - and if I am using it I tend to need the symbols as well which is a on screen select by arrow keys affair and in any case the keyboard isn't suitable for any serious typing.

    Not getting an AC adapter - hmm, my Kindle charger is now my micro-USB charger of choice as its (a) very small (basically a 13amp plug with a USB socket) and (b) is a different colour (white) from all the other chargers I need to take anywhere so its easy to find in the "charger bag"!

    That said, there's no need to "upgrade" from my K3 to a K4 ... but if the Kfire arrives, that might be different.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Get the apple charger, which is even smaller than the Amazon one, or the Gear4 version of it, which has slightly less curvy corners to avoid the wrath of Steve's ghost, and is a lot cheaper.

  9. Adrian Jones

    Screen saver images?

    In the States, the $79 Kindle comes with adverts on the screen saver, rather than images, to remove them you have to pay $109 to have them removed. Am I right in thinking that the UK version doesn't have the ads?

    Which would change the equivalent cost from £60 inc VAT to £84 inc VAT, making the UK version almost as cheap as the US one.

  10. dotdavid


    I read an article/review somewhere that the new Kindle displayed ads on the "screensaver" page, and you could pay Amazon $30 to have them switched off (lucky us). Is that just a US-only "feature"?

    1. Peter Lee


      And that's why the US version of this Kindle is $79, and the extra $30 upgrades them to the version we have reviewed here, which is ad-free.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the best reader is...?

    Is Kindle the only thing one can read e-books bought from Amazon on? I have a large book collection and really love the idea of having them with me 24/7 in an electronic format etc. But I am put off buying a kindle if its going to serve up adverts and be overly restrictive. Is it?

    What is the current "best in breed" for e-readers? Most of the books will be software manuals eg OpenGL red book etc.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: So the best reader is...?

      UK Kindles don't present ads. In the US you can pay a little extra for ad-less Kindles.

  12. Anonymous John

    Re - but don't expect a USB AC adaptor to come with it;

    That's good. The whole point of USB chargers is standardisation, so you don't need a new charger whenever you buy a new gadget. Which sadly doesn't stop many manufacturers from bundling one.

    I've got about six of the damned things. I don't even need a new cable every time.

  13. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    You can get a Kindle 3 for 80 quid

    Amazon are selling the old Kindle 3 (aka Kindle Keyboard) for 79.99 "refurbished". The one I bought yesterday was brand new and boxed although with only a USB lead no mains charger. Warranty only 3 months. Still a bargain if you feel like having the keyboard and the headphone port.

    1. handle

      I bought one of these for a parent for that price just before the new one came out. Interesting that the price hasn't dropped - shows that they are still in demand. They would be expected to last at least a year if not misused, so EU legislation will cover you should it break.

  14. Martin

    I have a Sony Reader...

    ...and I've heard it said that you can read Kindle books on it, with a bit of work. Not that I'd know anything about that.

    However, at this price, I think I'd be inclined to own both. And if the Sony Reader drops in price to compete, that will become a possibility for a lot of people.

    And as for the comment that an extra 2G and sound and the keyboard is a lot for £20 extra - true, but it's still three items I don't need - I'd rather have the £20, thanks.

    Beer, because that's what I'd spend the extra £20 on.

    1. Ramazan


      There's also Kindle (4) Touch in USofA, and it has sound support BTW

  15. Alan Edwards

    Update for existing Kindles?

    Anyone know if the existing Kindle 3s will get the new software update? If so, is there a way of stopping it?

    The black flash on page turns doesn't bother me, and I quite like the author portait "screensavers".

    1. Peter Lee

      Who knows?

      The Kindle 3 and the Kindle 4 apparently use the same screen so they could potentially use the same refresh mechanism, but maybe it is connected to the internal gubbins used in the device itself as to whether or not it can work the same way.

      I agree re the flash (I just see it as turning the page in a real book, and usually find I blink as I change the page anyway) and as for the screensavers I keep my Kindle in one of the leather covers, so I can't see it when I'm not reading it, and I tend to slide the "wake" switch before I open the cover so by the time it is open I just see the text. Can't remember when I last saw the screensaver on mine if I'm honest.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I know what you mean

      Can't see what all the fuss was about the author "screensavers". However, I've seen the new ones and must admit they're beautiful to look at.

  16. stu 4


    If you've got a Kindle, and not using Calibre yet - give it a go. It's the mutts nutts.

    One of the most useful things is the automatic scheduled scraping you can set up - so for example I run calibre on my home server: every morning it scrapes a bunch of websites (bbc, the glasgow herald, the register, engadget, etc) and creates an indexed ebook from each (mobi format). It then emails them to my kindle email.

    when I switch my kindle on - I've got all my daily reading. All for free.

    Converting between formats, maintain multiple formats, syncing to multiple devices (e.g. an iphone, etc) are all no problem either.

    1. handle

      I was suprised to see that the version of Calibre for the current Ubuntu is out of date and can't scrape booksellers to compare prices.


      Calibre FTW

      I just bought a 3G Kindle Keyboard - I wanted the unresticted free 3G - and I'm very happy with it, but it only really takes off when pared with Calibre.

      I decided against using the 3G to read websites - too slow - formatting issues - and instead have Calibre download and pakage all sorts of websites into a mobi and drop it on the device - all automatically.

      BBC news, Guardian, Wired Daily ... heck even The Register! The formatting is near perfect and I can even follow any links in an article if they look compelling enough.

      Great for reading on the train.

      And converting books from 1 format to a device specific format is, as you say, no problem. Almost invisible to the user.

      Calibre really is the missing software that should come with any ebook reader.

      1. mrchinchin25

        Holy cripes Calibre can do that? I really need to investigate if so.

  17. Maryon Jeane

    Is it a book? No, it's a library!

    My Kindle 4 arrived yesterday and I'm a convert. Actually, of course, I was a convert when I pre-ordered it, for several reasons: 1) having used an Iliad for reading books I was converted to e-ink and the ability to change font size according to light source, plus the ease of reading whilst eating etc. without trying to prop a physical book open; 2) as a voracious reader, the comfort of never having to run out of reading matter is tremendous; 3) being able to buy a book instantly and start reading it is heaven for the same reason; 4) the Kindle 4 price is finally a price I'm willing to pay - as also are the Amazon e-book prices. I'm very happy: it took me just over twenty minutes to unpack the Kindle 4, log it onto my home WiFi, and load it with a starter library (all Thomas Hardy's novels for 71p! I can live with any DRM issues, we're not talking Apple here, are we?). This is a very simple and elegant machine as far as the user is concerned. The page-turning is easy - and one-handed, right or left - once you get used to it and there's really nothing else to do, except read a book. I don't even notice the Kindle 4's weight in my handbag (which I certainly do with my Galaxy Tablet), and I love having my library in the Cloud so I can just grab the Kindle and go. I like the 'screensavers', they're elegant and restful and it's interesting to see which one will be used next. I'm also reassured that the Kindle seems sturdy, so when I drop it over the edge of the bed as I fall asleep I'm pretty sure it will survive. Constant Reader Heaven.

  18. stuartnz
    Thumb Up

    I see this in my future

    Now that my wife has decided my Kindle 3 is actually hers, a new one seems to be a necessity. I might get the Touch version, though. I just hope they come with equally nice cases to the Kindle 3

  19. Sooty


    I have resolved that if i ever get another e-ink device, it will be touchscreen!

    I have one of the early bebook one readers, and I love it despite it's 'quirks'. But the first reaction of every single person who's had a go with it, has been to touch it to try and select a directory/book rather than use the buttons. It could be the UI, but it's a fairly basic numbered menu, so unlikely.

    My dad has one of the early Sony touch devices, which is pretty nice, but not particularly responsive, which made me a bit dubious, but the newer IR ones though, rather than a resistive screen, seem to be much better.

    If the touch version had been released in the UK, I'd have ordered one already, despite already owning an e-reader! Why are we lagging behind?

  20. Ben Cooper

    Unusually, I'm a late adopter...

    Usually, I'm a sucker for gadgets, but it's only with the 4 that I've decided to finally go for an ebook reader. And it's fantastic. I don't care that it works best with Amazon books - that's who I buy most new books from anyway, and it's very quick and slick - preordered a book a couple of weeks ago, it was released today, and was automatically downloaded to the device without prompting.

    There's also a Kindle 3 in our family - and it doesn't get used much. It's too big to fit into a pocket, and the keyboard is almost never used. And there's an iPad which is fantastic for web browsing and email and stuff like that, but not fun to read a book on. As a device purely for reading books and nothing else, it's perfect.

    The page turn buttons are smaller, but still perfectly easy to use one-handed. No idea on battery life - I've not recharged it yet - but it's dropped one bar in a week and a half of reading for about an hour a day. So a month is certainly believeable.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think I've just sorted out the birthday prezzy for the missus... She's been reading books on her HTC Desire HD recently (which would drive me insane), so this should be spot on.

    Anon for obvious reasons!

    1. emmanuel goldstein

      Nice try...

      But we know:

      1. Your missus reads el reg (obviously, hence the anon)

      2. She has an HTC Desire HD

      3. She reads books on it

      I'd wager more than the cost of the kindle that the number of wives described by the above three parameters is small enough to render you well and truly busted mate.

  22. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Cool, but...

    I still prefer Sony's range of readers, especially the touch sensitive ones which are proper classy!

  23. stuartnz

    Reading on HTC

    MY missus has appropriated my Kindle 3, forcing me to read on my HTC Sensation, and it's not quite as awful as I expected. It does make me love the non-backlit e-ink even more than I already did, but it's OK, thanks to Calibre and aldiko. Definitely need to get her her own Kindle now though.

  24. John Sanders

    What no SD?

    No sale, no sir.

  25. PassiveSmoking

    Text to speech fail

    Er, guys? Remember how one of the big selling points of the Kindle over dead trees is all the fancy dan accessibility options you get such as being able to resize the screen font, and text to speech?

    What are people who relied on that feature meant to do when their old Kindle breaks?

    I certainly hopes the Touch has Text to Speech, while it may seem like a gimmick to people with good eyesight, I can assure it isn't a gimmick to those of us who don't.

  26. PaulM 1
    Thumb Down

    Why is the new Kindle $79 in US and £89 in UK?

    A pound is worth $1.58 and so why does the UK Kindle cost 1.78 times as much as the US Kindle? I do realise that US proces are always given without sales tax and UK prices include Vat. However, this can not fully explain the 78% price hike.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Why is the new Kindle $79 in US and £89 in UK?

      The advert-presenting Kindle is $79 in the US.

      The version that doesn't present ads is $109, which is £69, give or take. Add in 20 per cent VAT, and that's £83.

      So yes, there's a six quid UK premium, but it's not exactly bank-breaking stuff.

  27. taxmaster
    Thumb Down



    this is the biggest load of crap i have come across, i was asked to set one up for a friend, who had bought this for his elderly housebound mother, he also asked me to show her how to use this, as she is 84yr old, she is also currently in hospital.

    i was not impressed after i got it out of the box, going by the press coverage, tv, radio advertising, this sounded great e/books ( what with mobile internet technology ) there is no mention in tv, radio advertiseing, that you can only use it around the home, once connected by means of wireless connection to your internet router, neither are you told that you have to buy all books through amazon, big time rip off if your considering buying one,, leave where it is,



    1. I'm Brian and so's my wife

      As per icon...

    2. clarknova

      Perhaps your friend should have researched the purchase first to make sure it was suitable for a person in hospital. The 3G kindle may have been more suitable if a WiFi connection isn't so easy to come by.

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