Kindle 4 Video Review, First Impressions ($79 Kindle)

Kindle 4

My Kindle 4 arrived yesterday morning so I’ve been spending a lot of time giving it a test drive. I even put together a general video review showing how everything works (below).

So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Kindle 4. I’ve noticed a couple of negatives with it too, but then again it’s pretty hard to complain about a $79 ereader that has more going for it than most twice as expensive.

First off, the design is a big improvement. Despite the discounted price, it doesn’t look or feel cheap. The Kindle 3 is flat out ugly by comparison. The Kindle 4 is more elegant. It has a better shape, better lines. It’s more comfortable to hold. And the text looks superb. Even though the screen tech is the same, the text is slightly darker and more crisp than the Kindle 3.

The web browser has a couple of new features. The screen can be switched to landscape mode and there are five different zoom levels. Unfortunately the Kindle’s web browser still does not open links that open new windows.

The main negative, and you have to know this going in, is that the Kindle 4 doesn’t support audio. So no audiobooks, MP3s, or text-to-speech. I also noticed a problem with Active Content—games and apps. A few word games downloaded and worked fine, but several others games and apps would not download, giving an error, “The item is not available for this device type”. That could be trouble.

Otherwise, so far so good. The interface and menu system remains mostly the same as the Kindle 3. The main difference is the on-screen keyboard for entering text—it’s cumbersome but gets the job done. As long as you don’t need to take notes very often.

The Kindle 4 is going to be extremely popular simply because of its low price. But it does have one major competitor: its sibling, the $99 touchscreen Kindle. For $20 more you get the touchscreen upgrade and the addition of audio support and double the memory and battery life. That’s going to be pretty hard to pass up.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll post some pictures, the full review, and some comparison reviews next week. Subscribe to keep in the loop.

Kindle 4 Video Review

14 Responses to “Kindle 4 Video Review, First Impressions ($79 Kindle)”

  1. Seems to be an adequate bargain reader. Did you notice the screen being any different than the k3’s?

  2. Built-in foreign dictionaries eliminates one advantage Sony had over the Kindle.

  3. What about pdf reflow? Does it have it?

    • No Kindles don’t do reflow directly but you can send Amazon PDFs and they will convert them to AZW and that is the same as reflow. It’s free as long as you don’t deliver the files to the Kindle over 3G.

  4. I wish Amazon had an upscale version of the K4 (more storage, audio, and 3g) or added the paging buttons to the Touch. As is, if I had to choose, I’d go with the K4 for the superior ergonomics. Or maybe wait for the K5 touch.

  5. Yeah fjtorres, I like to click buttons to turn pages, but like the touch screen to highlight words and making selections.

  6. How is the support for pdf file in the kindle4

  7. Thanks for the review. I’ve never used an e-reader before and wondered what do people use the keyboard for? Is it only for making notes? Or is this for people who want to send emails? Is there any other use for the keyboard?

    Do you know if this one is available internationally?

    • The keyboard is good for notes and searches mostly. Plus it was pretty handy for shortcuts. A lot of the games and Active Content relied on it too, so that’s why a number of those aren’t working. The Kindle 4 is indeed available internationally, but not the Special Offers version, those are all US only. The International Kindle 4 without ads is $109.

  8. Thanks for your help Nathan.

  9. FYI… If you have a ‘Direct Verse Jump’ Bible on your Kindle that jumps directly to the verse you want to go to, this will be quite cumbersome.

  10. The Kindle 4 is *not* more attractive than the Kindle 3. That only applies if you’re one who thinks your reader should look like every other reader on the market.

    The carbon finish of the Kindle 3 was extremely elegant. I would say it’s the perfect form factor for an e-reader. Kindle 4 looks generic and uninspired, like they took a Sony Reader and said “we can do that!”. That is NOT innovation.

    Also, Amazon is heavily marketing the “Special Offers” pricing on their pages. The real prices are rather sky high compared to Kindle 3 and I submit that a lot of people are not going to notice that they’re paying more than they would have otherwise.

    Mark my words, you’re going to see a lot of fallout from this generation of Kindle.

    • You bring up some good points, especially about Amazon marketing the prices as the Special Offers price without making it abundantly clear, a fact I noted in the conclusion of the Kindle 4 review, because Amazon makes it seem like their prices are so much lower than the competition when they really aren’t if you don’t want the ads.

      But I’ll ask you this: have you handled a Kindle 4 in person? Because the pictures don’t do it any justice, it looks rather plain and ordinary. I thought the same thing at first. But in person it comes across a lot different. It is really well balanced and it just feels a lot nicer than the Kindle 3 and earlier Kindles. It had to have come from a different designer; it’s nothing like its older siblings.