Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

‘ZDNet Recommends’ What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of YOU, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form

Close

Amazon Kindle 2016, First Take: Affordable, but backlight-free

kindle-2016-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    Not yet rated

Amazon's latest Kindle is being presented as the company's most affordable e-reader ever. At £59.99 (inc. VAT, or £69.99 to remove 'special offers' which are essentially advertising and sponsored screensavers), it's considerably cheaper than any of the current lineup. The next most expensive model, the Paperwhite, starts at £109.99, while the Voyage costs from £169.99 and the Oasis that I recently reviewed starts at £269.99.

This new model replaces the previous entry-level Kindle, and is relatively basic. Certainly, having used the top-of-the-range Oasis for a while now, reverting to the Kindle 2016 felt like a big step backwards. That said, what you you get here is perfectly adequate for general e-reading -- with one big caveat: the lack of a backlight.

kindle-2016-main.jpg

The new entry-level Kindle has a 167ppi E Ink screen, compared to 300ppi in the more expensive Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis models. It also lacks a backlight.

Images: Amazon

I found this really debilitating. It's irritating to have to find a light source as natural light fades, and remarkable how much I've got used to the presence of a backlight since getting my first Paperwhite.

The build quality isn't the greatest. This is a reasonably slim and light e-reader measuring 115mm wide by 160mm deep by 9.1mm thick, and weighing 161g. But the plastic material feels a little bit low grade. Amazon emphasises the new Kindle's rounded edges as an aid to grip, but it's hardly a ground-breaking advance.

The technical specifications -- apart from the lack of a backlight -- are all good enough. There is 4GB of internal storage, which is enough to hold thousands of books. Usability is fine: tapping the screen for page turns and to access settings felt speedy enough. Text is clear enough on the 6-inch 167ppi E Ink screen, although I did miss the 300ppi resolution found across the rest of the line-up.

A quick comparison between this Kindle and the Oasis suggest that options and settings are the same on each. For example, there are nine fonts and eight text sizes on both devices. One big difference between this and other Kindles is the absence of 3G connectivity: there's only wi-fi for downloading new books, which might prove a turn-off if you like to refresh your library while you're out of the home or office.

Top ZDNET Reviews

As far as battery life is concerned, Amazon claims the same longevity for the new Kindle as for the Paperwhite and Voyage models -- "weeks on a single charge". Obviously this will depend on usage, and I find turning wi-fi off by going into Aeroplane mode really helps conserve battery life on all Kindles. It does take a while to charge, though, and will need four hours to go from flat to full.

If you have yet to try an e-reader and want to do so for relatively little outlay, this new Kindle should deliver a perfectly acceptable experience. However, it could also be worth looking at what's available second-hand. I found Paperwhites available for a similar price, and these models have that all-important backlight.

Read more reviews

Specifications

Display
Resolution (167 ppi)
Touchscreen Yes
Technology E Ink Pearl HD
Diagonal Size 6 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 15.2 cm
Output Type monochrome
Pixel Density (ppi) 167
Miscellaneous
Features optimized font technology
Color black
Color Category black
Pricing Type with Special Offers
Memory
Storage 4 GB
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11b/g/n
Security Protocols & Features WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPS
Networking
Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
EBook Reader
Supported Text Formats AZW, AZW3, DOC, DOCX, HTML, MOBI, PDF, PRC (Mobipocket), TXT
Supported Still Image Formats BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG
Features Page Flip
Touchscreen yes
Battery
Run Time Details Wireless off based on a half hour of daily reading: up to 1 month
Recharge Time 4 hour(s)
Input Device
Type touchscreen
Header
Brand Amazon
Product Line Amazon Kindle
Packaged Quantity 1
System
Platform Other
Handheld Type eBook reader
Flash Memory
Installed Size 4 GB
Cable Details
Type USB charge cable
Battery Life Details
Usage Mode wireless off based on a half hour of daily reading
Run Time (Up To) 1 month(s)
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Dimensions & Weight
Width 4.5 in
Depth 0.4 in
Height 6.3 in
Weight 5.68 oz
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year