Sometimes, a brand name becomes utterly synonymous with the actual product. Just like Kleenex, Q-tips and Slurpees, the All-New Kindle has become the name for the product category it represents. If you’re in the market for a new e-book reader, there’s a good chance you’ll be shopping for a Kindle. And now you can pick up the newest addition to the family with the all-new Kindle e-reader for 2016. Now in its 8th generation, the entry-level e-reader boasts a few new features while retaining the same affordable price.
What’s New with the 8th-Generation All-New Kindle?
The 8th generation Kindle was announced earlier this summer, promoted as “brand new” when not very much has actually changed. The 6-inch e-ink display still lacks a backlight (or front light) and it’s still the lower 167 ppi resolution, but it’s still a touchscreen. The same Kindle experience carries through the entire lineup. And it’s still cheap and cheerful.
As I pointed out in my unboxing and overview video earlier this month, the newest All-New Kindle is thinner and lighter than before, it comes in white as well as black, and they’ve doubled the memory for improved performance. The biggest difference is the inclusion of Bluetooth audio, which will appeal to some and be practically useless to others.
For all the book club people, there’s Export Notes. This features enables you to export your notes and highlighted portions as a printable PDF, delivered via e-mail. Again, some people might like it and other people could care less.
After getting spoiled with the much more expensive Kindle Oasis, the new All-New Kindle feels decidedly cheaper in the hands. The cheap plastic shell pales in comparison even to the only slightly more expensive Kindle Paperwhite. With the latter, the soft touch materials make for a more comfortable reading experience.
That being said, you can invest in the official protective case, as seen in the picture gallery below, for $29.99. It’s a little spendy for a protective cover like this, but it does make the Kindle more comfortable to hold. If you’re willing to spend an extra thirty bucks on a case, though, you might not be looking at the cheapest Kindle. The cover comes in your choice of black, blue, magenta or white/grey.
The otherwise Spartan and uninspired design of the 8th-generation All-New Kindle is typical for being the cheapest offering in its family. I was provided the black version for the purposes of this review, but you can get it in white for a small dash of personality. As before, the only button you’ll find is the physical power button and the only port you’ll find is the micro-USB port for charging. Everything else is accomplished through the touchscreen.
The Reading Experience
Build quality issues aside, I had two primary concerns when approaching this new Kindle as compared to the more premium Kindles that I have been reviewing recently. First, this cheaper Kindle comes with the lower resolution 167 ppi display, compared to the 300 ppi display on all the other e-readers in the lineup. Second, this is the only Kindle in the family that does not have any lighting whatsoever for the screen.
Based on my time reading through a couple chapters of Spell Or High Water by Scott Meyer, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions based on those two primary concerns. First, the lower resolution screen is not as big of a deal as I had anticipated. If all you’re doing is reading text, you’re probably not going to notice much of a difference. The words may not be quite as crisp, but it’s still fine. And even on a higher resolution screen, viewing graphics on e-ink has never been stupendous.
The lack of the built-in light, however, is a real deal breaker for me. I do most of reading in bed just before I go to sleep. I keep a very dim lamp at my bedside and have grown accustomed to the light on the other Kindles. You may or may not need the adaptive light sensor of the Kindle Voyage or the 10 LEDs of the Kindle Oasis for “enhanced page consistency.” But you will want to have a built-in light and this Kindle doesn’t have that.
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