The Amazon Kindle continues to outshine its competitors in performance and book selection while undercutting them on price thanks to cost-reducing and unobtrusive Special Offers lockscreen ads. Reviewers say if you're looking for a non-touch-screen ebook reader, the Kindle is the best option and it's good for your wallet, too.
Premium performance at a low price. A minor 2012 refresh improved the Amazon Kindle's page rendering times beyond their already impressive speeds, and brought sharper and even easier-to-read text to the E Ink display. Beefed-up parental controls are also new. The icing on the cake is a $10 price cut. Otherwise, everything critics love about the Kindle's performance remains intact, which makes reviews of last year's version still helpful in evaluating the e-reader.
The Kindle's major flaw is file support: It can't open books saved in the widely used ePub format, and books downloaded through Amazon's bookstore are saved in a proprietary format that can't be read by other ebook readers. Its 4-week battery life is impressive in its own right, but the Kindle can't hold a charge for as long as more expensive versions or the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch (Est. $80) .
Stacked with value-adding extras. Amazon loads its ebook reader with lots of helpful additions. Kindle owners get free access to AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide, while Amazon Prime members can download a single free ebook at a time through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Kindle-to-Kindle lending is also on board, and Amazon's bookstore is the largest available. The Kindle even includes a built-in dictionary and a basic web browser, although they're clunky to navigate, especially with the e-reader's minimal controls.
One drawback is the Kindle's lack of expandable storage; most competing ebook readers include a micro-SD card slot. However, its 2 GB hard drive can hold more than 1,100 ebooks and Amazon offers free cloud-based storage for any title bought through Amazon.com. Whispersync technology remembers your page if you want to pick up a book where you left off on another device.
Great for reading, but not everything else. This is where reviewers aren't big fans of the Amazon Kindle. Flipping through a book is comfortable enough, but experts say the page turn buttons could be bigger and typing information is a pain with the Kindle's minimal buttons. That makes browsing the web or searching for online books more of a headache than on touch-screen e-readers or the Amazon Kindle Keyboard 3G (Est. $140 and up) , which includes a full QWERTY keyboard and free 3G cellular data. You'll also need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to go online with the basic Kindle. While experts say Barnes & Noble devices are slightly more comfortable in hand, the Kindle is nonetheless remarkably light and a pleasure to hold.
ConsumerReports.org includes various versions of the latest Amazon Kindle in its current e-readers report. Testing is done and ratings are provided, but discussion is on the short side.
Review: E-book Reader Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Falcone gives the latest Kindle 3.5 stars out of 5, starting his review by saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." He likes that Amazon kept the Kindle simple, improving performance but not adding features just for the sake of adding features.
Review: Amazon Kindle (2012) Review: Excellent No-Frills E-Ink Reader, John P. Falcone, Nov . 13, 2012
Lendino likes the Kindle's new, lower price and its improved display. He compares it to other budget models from Kobo and Barnes & Noble, but calls the Kindle a winner in its price range.
Review: Amazon Kindle (2012), Jamie Lendino, Nov. 20 , 2012
Morris is one of the first to conduct an in-depth review of the refreshed 2012 Amazon Kindle. He finds it a pleasure to read with and an absolute steal, and gives it 4.5 stars out of 5. However, the lack of audio support and Amazon's format support issues cause him to withhold a perfect rating.
Review: Kindle 6 - inch (2012) Review, Ian Morris, Oct. 5, 2012