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Amazon Kindle (2019) review: The best Kindle for most people
Amazon’s Kindle e-readers are part of that rare breed of devices that don’t need to be upgraded all that often. Over the last decade or so, I’ve gone through four, maybe five Kindles. I started off with a Kindle Keyboard. It eventually broke in an unfortunate accident, so I replaced it with a touch-enabled Kindle 4. That was followed by a second generation Paperwhite because, well, having a built-in light is amazing. More recently, I upgraded to the new Paperwhite with waterproofing only because my Kindle from 2013 was finally starting to show signs of age.
If Amazon had released the 2019 Kindle earlier on in the year, this is the model I would have chosen.
The new Kindle (2019) is smaller than the model it replaces while retaining the same six-inch display. There are still substantial bezels along the sides, but that is fine since it is a device you’ll be holding in your hands for hours on end. The bezels provide your fingers with leverage points. The reduction in size definitely makes it easier to carry the new Kindle around in your back pocket.
I like that the edges on the new Kindle are ever so slightly curvier than those on the last-gen model. It helps the design flow a bit more organically and makes it comfortable to hold in any orientation. In fact, I’d say that I prefer the form factor of the new Kindle over the larger Paperwhite.
The back of the Kindle is made of hard plastic, unlike the rubberized finish on the Paperwhite, and I really think this is for the better. In my experience, the rubberized texture catches lint and doesn’t age too well. I did find the new Kindle to be a bit slippery. You might want to invest in a case to protect it from falls.
Buttons and ports remain the same. Yes, the Kindle still has a microUSB charging port, but we are willing to forgive that since you can go weeks without having to charge it. The power button, on the other hand, can be a bit hard to press down. Generally speaking, the ergonomics of the new Kindle don’t leave much to complain about.
There is quite a big difference between the display on the regular Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite. The new Kindle carries over the six-inch E-Ink Carta display with a pixel density of 167ppi. This is little over half of the 300ppi resolution of the Paperwhite’s E-Ink Carta HD display. In real world use, you’d be surprised by how little it matters.
By all accounts, resolution does make a difference in text rendering and in reading. Close examination if the screen of the new Kindle will reveal a mild blur around text, indicating a low resolution panel. However, this difference fades from view once you start reading a book. Unless you’ve got both Kindles sitting next to one another, you won’t know that you’re missing anything. That is, unless you read a lot of graphic novels. High-quality graphic content definitely shows off the advantage of the higher resolution display on the Paperwhite.
The new Kindle still has a 167ppi display and four LEDs compared to five on the Paperwhite.
The new Kindle sports four LEDs compared to the five on the Paperwhite. After a week of use, my eyes could not discern the difference between the Paperwhite and the entry-level Kindle. Lighting on the new Kindle is just as evenly spread and bright as that on the Paperwhite.
Unlike the Paperwhite, the basic Kindle’s display does not sit flush with the surface. Depending on who you ask, this could be a real advantage. Yes, dust and lint does get caught in the corners, but this is less aggravating than having to constantly wipe fingerprints off the plastic display as on the Paperwhite.
Living with the 2019 Kindle
While the experience of using the refreshed 2019 Kindle is very similar to that of previous devices, there was one thing that stood out to me: I often had to tap the page twice to shift to the next page. This continued to be the case despite tapping harder or changing positions. I suspect this might have something to do with touch sensitivity. Hopefully Amazon should be able to patch it in a software update.
Being able to carry your entire library with you is definitely a big part of the Kindle’s appeal. Unlike the Paperwhite, the basic Kindle still ships with just 4GB of storage. Unless you plan to read a lot of graphic novels this will be enough for hundreds, if not thousands, of books.
If you often find yourself reading at the beach, the Paperwhite is the model you need to look at.
The 2019 Kindle lacks any form of waterproofing. That’s not likely to be a big complaint for most users, but if you often find yourself reading at the beach you might de well to consider the Paperwhite instead.
And that brings us to battery life. Frankly, in my week of testing and reading through two novels, I’ve still not been able to fully deplete the battery. With screen brightness set to a third of the maximum setting, and an hour of reading each day (and even more on the weekends), I’ve drained the battery perhaps 50 percent. No matter how aggressive your use case, you’ll find it hard to run down the Kindle’s battery in less than a week.
Amazon Kindle (2019) price and availability
It has a front-lit display, a great form factor, and a screen that will be satisfactory for most users. We reckon most buyers will be happy with the trade-offs compared to a Paperwhite, such as the lack of waterproofing and higher-resolution display, for a price point that’s almost 40 percent lower. The sheer value for money here can’t be beaten. This is a small investment that will last years.
If you’re in the U.S., the basic Kindle runs you $89 versus the $129 price of the Paperwhite. That’s a $40 difference for the waterproofing, storage increase, and resolution boost. If you find yourself reading at the beach or in the shower, the Paperwhite might be worth the extra cost. For most users, the basic Kindle will suffice.
The Kindle is one of my all-time favorite gadgets. It does only one job, but it does it exceptionally well. With its fantastic form-factor, lighting, and access to a larger library than you’ll ever need in your pocket, the new entry-level Kindle is one of the best e-readers around.
That concludes our Amazon Kindle (2019) review? Will you buy this gadget?