It’s Crazy How Slow Kindles Evolve and Get Upgraded

2016 Kindle

Back in 2010 you could buy a Kindle 3 from Amazon, also known as the Kindle Keyboard, with 4GB of storage space and a new upgraded E Ink Pearl display with a resolution of 800 x 600.

Fast forward to 2018 and you can buy an entry-level Kindle with 4GB of storage space and an old outdated E Ink Pearl screen with a resolution of 800 x 600.

It’s crazy to think the “new” Kindle still uses the exact same screen as the Kindle 3 that was released over 8 years ago now.

I’ve ranted about the basic Kindle using older screen technology before; it’s the only ereader on the market that still comes with an E Ink Pearl screen.

E Ink released Carta screens with 50% better contrast back in 2013, and yet Amazon continues to use Pearl screens on the Kindle, despite the fact that other companies phased out Pearl displays half a decade ago.

There’s also the fact that the Kindle 3 had a basic audioplayer to play MP3s and audiobooks. Plus it supported text-to-speech and had a headphone jack and speakers, not to mention page buttons and web browsing over 3G.

The current Kindle can play Audible audiobooks but it can’t play MP3s and it doesn’t have regular text-to-speech, just a convoluted accessibility feature that’s awkward to use and requires using Bluetooth speakers or headphones. It has no headphone jack or speakers of its own, and no page buttons, but it does add a touchscreen and a faster processor.

The Kindle software has come a long way in the past eight years, but it’s amazing just how little has been upgraded over the years in terms of hardware, especially when it comes to the entry-level model.

Could this be the year the basic Kindle finally gets an upgraded screen?

22 Responses to “It’s Crazy How Slow Kindles Evolve and Get Upgraded”

  1. Every night I pray that Amazon releases a new Kindle basic touch with 300 ppi with The same physical hardware of the black Kindle 5 basic with page turn buttons Which I thought was excellent. I would buy that on day one.

  2. Yes very slow. And for this newest devices like Sony, Boyue, Onix boox, kobo are winning space on market 7,8″, 9,3″, 10,3″. And other options. It’s only time. And if They want to make good devices for all users. Not bites (Sony only for pdf and no more, sad, but if this device allow use another formats: Doc, docx, mobi, epub,… There’s no competition), With better prices.

  3. The truth is in Kindle ecosystem. Lot of books can be read on Kindle devices only. However, with recent Android based devices you can install decent Kindle application and thus overcome that problem. So, if we soon witness 7″ device (e-ink of course) with front light and Android, comparable in quality with Oasis and much cheaper or with more features, we may expect Amazon reaction, if nothing else, with lowering prices of all models.

  4. I’m still curious as to why both Google and Apple, which have extensive bookstores do not have a dedicated e-reader. Apple could easily make them popular, the same way they made tablets and watches popular

  5. I don’t know about a basic Kindle screen upgrade. To my mind Amazon keeps the basic Kindle basic partially to make the Paperwhite more attractive in comparison and to provide a step up story.
    My guess is something else will get upgraded…Paperwhite with page turn buttons, renamed…possible Voyage/Paperwhite merge into one unit…400 dpi on Oasis…or a larger unit.
    My guess is that there will be at least one change this year.

  6. The Voyage is still missing…

  7. I’m going to keep repeating the same refrain that everybody’s probably gotten tired of seeing, but I still think it’s correct.

    Why would Amazon release a new Kindle? What would they gain by it? Not much. That’s why they won’t release a new device.

    According to an article published by Forbes in January 2018, Amazon controls 83% of the American ebook market. Apple’s share actually declined in the past three years to just under 10%. The stats are similar in the UK.

    B&N is in the process of going bankrupt (eventually) and Kobo’s partnership with Walmart is, at best, an unknown at this point. IMO Amazon’s not concerned about this partnership because Walmart’s got a conflict of interest that will hamstring Kobo. Walmart wants to sell ebooks but doesn’t want to cannibalize their status as the #1 retailer for mass market paperback books in the USA. The major publishers don’t want that either.

    Boox Onyx, Sony, Likebook, the ReMarkable, etc. are severely niche markets with tablet-like prices to match. They are not mainstream devices and unless those companies decide for some inexplicable reason to eat half of the cost of the device, they’re not going to ever get into the mainstream. The vast majority of the public will by an iPad or even the new Surface Go before they will buy an ereader at a comparable price because tablets can do so much more.

    Lastly, remember that Amazon created the Kindle in the first place because Bezos wanted to sell ebooks. He needed a “revolutionary” new portable device to get people hooked. He succeeded probably better than even he ever imagined he would. Bezos and Amazon don’t care if people read books on an e-ink Kindle, their iPad, their Surface or their phone. Until Amazon’s ebooks business is challenged, there’s absolutely no reason for them to release a new ereader.

  8. Do you want a light device or something with an sd card slot and speakers? Choose. As for the outdated screen, Kindle has two other options, both with better screens. The basic Kindle is also the cheapest ereader you can buy, is it not?

    • I’d choose the device that meets my particular needs and does so for the lowest price. The vast majority of my ebooks are purchased from Amazon. All I need is a way to consume that content. I can do so on my phone, my iPad and even my laptop (although I don’t know why anybody would want to read on a laptop lol.)

      Bezos cares about where people spend their money on ebooks. Content is king, and as long as the vast majority of ebooks are purchased from Amazon, he’s happy and his shareholders are happy.

      • I read the books I need for college on my laptop, not all are on paper and I am not carrying another device just to read school books.

    • The thing is the Kindle isn’t the cheapest ereader when you consider the ads. Without ads it’s $99. The InkBook Classic 2 sells for $89 and it adds an upgraded Carta screen as well as page buttons and a microSD card slot. Quite frankly it’s a much nicer device than the entry-level Kindle, but the software is just average. The Kobo Aura 2 can also frequently be had for under $100 and it adds a frontlight and a 212 ppi Carta screen.

      • You’re right, but ultimately software and content is what sells. Ecosystem is the deciding factor. It’s why Apple can get away with selling outdated iPhones for the price that they do well Android is making high-end hardware but IMO still isnt as polished as iOS and doesn’t have an ecosystem.
        So while yes I agree the Kindle hardware is severely lacking when you consider the paperwhite and basic Kindle, Amazon still has superior software and ecosystem the other players simply can’t match, not to mention resell value.

  9. I didn’t have so much trouble with the screen with them 2017 Oasis but returned it because it was not comfortable to use – as the design incorporates the weight of heavish battery all on one side. By the time a case was added it was the same weight as a Fire tablet, the Fire tablet being much more versatile and a reader.

    Hoping there is a new design on the horizon that incorporates speakers too because the Bluetooth thing is also a pain. I wonder if readers will ever use color…

    • All Amazon needs to do is take the Kobo Aura One, add page turn buttons and slap Amazon logo on it and it’ll be the best can Kindle ever made.
      Yes I agree the new Oasis was terrible in every way. Horrible design, washed out screen, sharp edges, cold feel, no contrast, etc

  10. Using the entry model is not the way to see whether the kindle has evolved. The voyage and oasis I and II have definitely upped the game, though there are still limits on the devices that are ridiculous in 2018 on gen 9. That’s like saying the iPhone hasn’t advanced any in years by looking at the cheapest option they have. Entry level is just that, and will always be missing features that better models have.

  11. Hmmm…it all comes down to functionality. E-readers are extremely simplistic in that there is a minimal amount of functions we expect it to perform. Similarly, e-ink is extremely simplistic. What more do you want? The simplicity of reading is accomplished. We don’t need sharper images because it is mimicking newsprint, which it does perfectly. The lighting was an issue but has since been upgraded.

    These aren’t computers, per se. They are books. Change font, font size, take notes, highlight and buy and download books is really all that’s needed. Too much more and you get distracted like people with tablets do. You don’t expect much when you buy a paper book so why would you expect so much more with an eReader? The only real thing left is size but think hard in what you wish for. I have a Remarkable and for notetaking its great but to hold it for reading becomes cumbersome very quickly. My Oasis can be held for hours. I think the Oasis is as close as were going to get to perfection in the eReader market.

  12. Will never buy a Kindle until 1. It allows easy book and category (collection) management directly via computer; 2. Page loading remains decent even if books are loaded at full capacity; 3. Extra SD card slot.

  13. I agree on the Oasis. If they choose to add an inch in screen size, I won’t hesitate to buy.

  14. The Kindle 3 was the best of the Kindles. Since many started to wear out I began looking for a replacement. Sadly the specs on the new ones had less functionality. Tried several Kindle models including the Voyage and Oasis (returned both within a couple days). Did manage to purchase the Kindle Paperwhite ‘Manga Model’ (2016) which has Carta E-Paper and 32 GB storage on sale through Woot which I have kept (although I miss the page turn buttons). Surprisingly my Kindle 3 is still working. Yeah!

  15. It certainly looks like the Voyage is history. It leaves a big gap both price wise and feature wise. ?????? Something soon, maybe!
    I currently use a 2gb Kindle Papaerwhite and a Touch and I agree with Liz 100%! Easier categorizing and syncing and an SD slot. No slot, no sale!
    A minimum of 16gb on board memory. 32gb & 64gb as options. Ability to change the screens color temp.
    The browser has been “Experimantal” for 13 years, maybe it can get out of beta?

    • bob,

      lol i’m pretty sure the kindle browser will always be in “beta” on e-ink screens if only as a subtle warning not to call tech support complaining that websites are not optimized for static gray scale devices. in other words, expect the browser to suck. be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.

  16. Maybe it’s a poor design on the part of Onyx but my Onyx with a Carta screen shattered easily. My kindle PaperWhite generation 1 has taken comparatively tremendous abuse with no issues. Perhaps this is why they’re sticking with pearl, it’s a more durable glass substrate?