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Summary: A very good eink reader, highly recommended.
Last week on Amazon Local (Amazon Local is Amazon’s Groupon/Living Social competitor) there was a deal for the Kindle 4 (or Kindle Basic) for only $49. I did not really need another Kindle, but it was only $49 and I figured I could give it away to someone.
I have written about the Kindle 4 before, but I have not actually used a real one. After four days, about 700+ pages of reading I am thinking about making it my main kindle and using my Kindle with Keyboard to loan to friends.
What I Like
I am amazed how small and light it it. It is 1 inch shorter, .3 inches narrower and nearly 1/3 lighter than the Kindle with Keyboard. The screen is the same size and maybe a slight bit better (in the side by side comparison picture below, the darks seem a bit darker).
The Kindle 4 is wifi only. So you can only put books on it from wifi or using a cord and a computer.
There is also no audio on the Kindle 4. I really love the kindle integration with Audible.com and while I don’t use it, some people really like the text to speech feature. But I find that I listen to audiobooks on my phone more often than on my kindle. So it is not a deal breaker for me.
The battery and book storage are both about 1/2 of what is on the Kindle with Keyboard or Kindle Touch. But I tend to only keep 40-50 books on the kindle (it can hold well over 1000) and after four days, 700+ pages and the wifi on the whole time, the battery monitor is showing about 50%.
The Kindle 4 does not have a keyboard or touch screen. I use the highlight feature frequently on the kindle. I often highlight portions of a book or make a note as I am reading to help remind me of points I want to make in a review. The Kindle 4 does not have a physical or touch screen keyboard to type notes. It is actually a real pain to use the 5-way controller to slowly choose each letter to make a note. But for people that mostly just read, especially if you primarily read fiction, you will appreciate the smaller size of the Kindle 4.
Another issue that is not a huge deal for me is the size of the page turn buttons. Each kindle has had smaller page turn buttons than the previous kindle. I personally think that the size of the Kindle with Keyboard buttons are the best size. The Kindle 4 buttons are a bit small and I do not like that the Kindle Touch does not have any page turn buttons at all. I do not want to touch the screen to change the page. The smaller size also means less area to hold the kindle. So if you have large hands you may prefer the Kindle with Keyboard.
The $49 deal has expired. But you can still buy a new Kindle 4 for $79 or a refurbished one for $69. Historically Amazon starts to have sales to clear out old stock before they introduce a new kindle. So I would guess that a new Kindle is coming in the next couple months.
My understanding is that color eink screens are still at least a couple months, or maybe a couple years away. I think it is unlikely that a new kindle will be able to be much smaller. Maybe a bit thinner or lighter, but it cannot get much smaller and maintain the six inch screen.
It is likely that the new kindle will have some type of integrated light. The new eink Nook has a light built around the screen and many people really like it. Personally I still prefer reading by a lamp at night, but if you read at night, you may want to wait for a little while and see if the new kindle has a built in light.
So the only real innovation other than the light that I think might be a part of a new kindle is a drop in price. Amazon may be using these refurbished kindle to test price points. Every kindle has also dropped the price of the whole line of kindle. ($399, $259, $189, $99, $79 have been the release prices of the five different eink kindles.)
If you do not have a kindle and would like to try one out, the Kindle 4 is a good option. The $49 price and the small size was a big deal for me. If you see a Kindle 4 for $49 get it.