May 162012

Lightest and Smallest Kindle eReader

The Kindle is the smallest eReader ever made by Amazon, despite having the standard 6 inch screen. Although the difference does not appear to be large, because reading sessions can last for hours, any reduction of weight and size can have a large impact in handling and comfort, as well as portability. If these factors are important for you, then this Kindle might be your best choice.

In terms of length the Kindle is 6.5 inches, exactly 1 inch shorter than the Kindle Keyboard and 0.3 inches shorter than the Kindle Touch. The width of the Kindle is 4.5 inches, also smaller than the Kindle Touch by 0.2 inches and Kindle Keyboard by 0.3 inches. Finally the thickness of the Kindle is 0.34 inches, also smaller than the Kindle Touch by 0.06 inches but the same as the Kindle Keyboard. Regarding weight, the Kindle weight 6 oz, lighter than the Kindle Touch by 1.5 oz and the Kindle Keyboard by 2.5 oz.


User inputs and controls

A distinguishing feature of the Kindle 4 is a row five buttons or switches just below the screen. The middle switch is larger and is in fact a cluster of five buttons, similar to that seen on mobile phones. It comprises of four navigation button (up, down, left and right) that surround a fifth button (for select or enter).

To the right of the so called 5 way controller, are a pair of equally spaced buttons, the inner one being “Menu” button which brings up a context sensitive menu, and outer extreme right one being the “Home” button, which returns the user to the book list. To the left of the 5 way controller is another pair of equally spaced buttons, the outer extreme left button being the “Back” button which takes the user to the previous visited screen, and the inner one being the “Keyboard” button which brings up an onscreen keyboard.

In addition to the above mentioned physical buttons, there also two further buttons, a “Next Page” and “Previous Page” button on right side of the screen. These buttons are corner shaped and require a more deliberate pressing action as compared with the Kindle Keyboard. However, these buttons make accidental page turns unlikely and therefore allow easier holding of the Kindle when reading.

All these buttons are also present on the previous non-touchscreen Kindles, and have onscreen equivalents on the Kindle Touch, except for the keyboard button and the 5-way controller. These two work together to provide a minimal user interface for the entry of text, and eliminate the need for a physical keyboard or a touchscreen keyboard. Instead by pressing the “Keyboard” button to call up an onscreen keyboard and then using the 5-Way Controller to select the required alphanumeric character.
This cumbersome method of text entry is acceptable for occasional use, such as setting up Wi-Fi and rare note taking. If you like making lots of notes or searches or plan to write a lot your kindle for example to send an email or access social networks then you may miss the keyboard and want to opt for a Kindle Keyboard or Kindle Touch.


The basic Kindle has 2GB of storage, of which 1.25 GB is available for content. This is sufficient for storing over 1,400 books on the Kindle. If your book collection grows larger than this, then Kindle books can be stored on the Amazon cloud, although an internet connection will be needed to retrieve these. Note that non-Kindle books for example PDF and TXT documents are not stored on the Amazon cloud, and a backup should be kept on your computer.

If this constraint presents a difficulty, you could increase the content storage capacity to 3 GB by opting for any of the other Kindles in the range, and furthermore opt for a 3G equipped Kindle which will increase the availability of an internet connection.

Wireless connectivity

The basic Kindle is equipped with Wi-Fi but there is no 3G, so you will only be able to download content, including free books and samples, if have access to a Wi-Fi connection. If you travel often and would like to be able to download content anywhere, the Kindle Keyboard 3G or Kindle Touch 3G could be a better choice.

A wireless connection also makes it convenient to sync your Kindle. Sync is useful if you read the same book on different platforms, for example your mobile phone or computers as well as your Kindle. Sync ensures that your latest bookmarks, notes are available.

Downloading Books

Kindle books can be download wirelessly using Wi-Fi and 3G, or via a USB connection. To download non-Kindle books e.g. any PDF document, or a personal document, it is necessary to use Wi-Fi or a USB connection to computer. You cannot use the Kindle browser to download directly from the internet.

Powering up the Kindle

On lower edge of the Kindle is an on/off button. Note that this is not a sliding button as seen on other Kindles but a toggle button. Next to this is the mini-USB port for data and power, finally the charging light.

The Kindle 4 battery life is 1 month, instead of 2 months for Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard. This however, is likely to be more than enough for mort users.

Another measure to minimise the price results in the Kindle being supplied with only a USB charging cable, and no power adapter. You do not need the power adapter if you have access to a computer – remember the Kindle has a battery life of 1 month. However if you do not have access to a computer then you will definitely need a power adapter. The power adapter is becoming a generic item. You may already have one for another mobile device, or can buy one cheaply if you really need it.

Reading Tools

The Kindle comes with a set of reading tools that are the same as those on the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch. These include the ability to create “collections” to which you can add books and keep them organized. There are two way of adding books to collections. First from the book title, which opens a list of collections, and allows the book to be assigned to one or more collection. Secondly, from the collection title, which opens a list of book titles, and allows one or more books to be added to the collection.

Also included in a dictionary which can be easily used to look up a word that is already displayed on the screen – you just use the 5 way controller to move the cursor to it, but it is a little bit more difficult to use if the word is not on the screen.

No audio

There is no audio capability on the Kindle 4. That means no Text to Speech or mp3 audio books playback. As well as helping to save cost this also helps to reduces weight and size, not least because a pair of speakers do not need to be housed in the case.

Ads Supported Kindle

The basic Kindle is also available as “Kindle with Special Offers” for about $30 less. The ads appear in place of the screen saver and occupy two rows at the bottom of the home page and so extend your booklist over more pages. When you are reading a book, there is no way of knowing that you are using an ad supported Kindle. If you do not often browse through your book collection or if you have a small book list because you only read a few books concurrently or because you borrow books from a public library, you may not find the ads obtrusive at all. If you switch of the Kindle, by holding the power switch in the off position for 5 seconds, the Kindle is turned totally off with no ad displayed.

There is internet browser available in the basic Kindle, the same as the one in the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch, really only suitable only for mainly text based websites. Entering text into the browser is off course more difficult as each letter has to be picked using the 4 way controller, so it is unlikely that lengthy text will be entered. As non of the Kindles has a parental control facility for the browser, the difficulty of using the 5 way controller becomes an advantage it restricts the usability of the browser.

eBook Reader Guide Recommendation

Features a E Ink display currently the closest electronic equivalent of paper, ideal for textual and long duration reading.
Can be held in one hand like a paper back book, without tiring.
Largest collection of eBooks.
Can be read outdoors in bright sunlight.
Difficult text entry, eg annotation, using single navigator button.
When dark need a Kindle reading light, or a Kindle cover with a built in light.
Not suitable for books with color or interactive content.

If compact size is important for you then this Kindle is the one to get. Also consider getting the Ads supported version – the ads aren’t obtrusive and the Kindle price is $30 cheaper. The low price point of the Kindle, combined with its very light and compact form, also makes it a candidate for the first eReader for kids and adults alike. Just make sure that you get a good quality Kindle cover or case for it. A Kindle cover will also make it more comfortable to hold the device when reading, but will not provide as much protection as fully enclosing it in a Kindle case. Read Kindle Reader Review. Price $79. Check Latest Price.

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