So, I took the plunge. I have a Kindle. I've ummed and ahhed about this decision for five years, but I've recently decided to try and become a minimalist. As part of that, I've disposed of most of my books, with the rest to go in short order, and an e-reader seemed like a good idea because it allows me to continue reading without the physical clutter that it can create as a hobby.
Why the Kindle? I work in selling consumer electronics, and have plenty of experience with both the Kindle and Kobo as a salesperson. After a bit of internal wrangling about the merits of open systems such as that supporting the Kobo Touch
, I opted for a Kindle on the basis of ease of use. This was partly against my better judgement, as I have always preferred the physical look and feel of the Kobo, but the option of a lit case which integrates with the battery, as well as the Whispersync service, was appealing and so I wound up with a fifth generation Kindle two days ago. The reduced price also helped - the £69 model is now the lowest priced mainstream e-reader on the market.
Compared to the older models, the text seems a tad sharper, although not having spent much time actually reading with those it's hard to make a worthwhile judgement about any comparative increase in quality. The battery life is still excellent and the storage more than adequate, as you'd expect from any e-reader, but where this new Kindle really excels over it's more expensive brethren and the competition is in build quality. The matte finish metallic edge is somewhat cold to the touch, but reassuringly so - it feels far more solid than plastic fantastic models such as the Kindle Keyboard. The buttons feel well weighted and are easy to access, not changing from the old fourth generation Kindle
except in colour as with the rest of the fronting, although I will say that when the official lit case is connected you might well struggle to use the left pair of page turners as there's not much give in the rubber backing there compared to the right hand side. Amazon haven't changed much on the rear of the new Kindle either, keeping the same rubberised panel from the fourth generation Kindle that feels great in the hand and provides a bit of extra grip for drowsy night-time or travel reading. It's the same well built device as the fourth generation Kindle was, mostly because it's effectively the same device, but the new colour turns it into a great looking device as well as one that's comfortable to hold, and the same quality for £20 less is a hard bargain to ignore.
As you might have guessed by now, I also picked up one of the official lit Kindle cases, and in tandem with the fifth generation Kindle it's probably as close as we'll come to the Kindle Paperwhite in the UK for the next year. It fits very snugly around the new model, and the light is bright and clean without being harsh. The uneven lighting created by an external source such as this built-in LED means some people might struggle to read with it in pitch blackness, but I find it creates a more natural effect than a backlit screen or the upcoming Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight and Kindle Paperwhite might well do. We'll find out in the coming months, I suspect, when those devices are released in the UK. The most important bit for me, however, is that the LED runs directly from the Kindle's internal battery, and so saves you having to worry about changing a battery if you're in the middle of nowhere. The fake leather exterior is lacking much grip, but the interior is easy and comfortable to hold, warming the hand without making it sweat.
Owing to the problems with the left page turners when integrated with the official lit case, I can't say that the Kindle is faultless, but it's definitely a five star device nonetheless. Well built, easy to use, easy to hold and it looks great, too. I've already found myself reading more than I was a few months ago, and I will probably never go back to print books now save for education. Amazon's made a believer out of me: e-readers might take a while to become truly universal devices, but the Kindle is leading the charge for good reason - it's the best.