Amazon Kindle (2019) review: Most affordable Kindle now has integrated lighting

  • Editors' rating
    9.3 Spectacular
  • $89.99

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Integrated lighting
  • Audible support
  • Comfortable lightweight design

Cons

  • microUSB in a world of USB-C cables
How the latest Kindle stacks up ZDNet's Matthew Miller compares the latest Kindle to other versions and tells TechRepublic's Karen Roby about its pros and cons. Read more: https://zd.net/2ZQYvs4

With last fall's new Kindle Paperwhite, that ebook reader and the Kindle Oasis both offer an IPx8 waterproof rating. For those not reading in those conditions who want an affordable Kindle, Amazon introduced the new all-new 2019 Kindle starting at $89.99.

See it now: Kindle (2019) on Amazon

While I have the new iPad Mini that serves as a good ebook reader too, I still prefer to spend uninterrupted hours reading on my Kindle Oasis and I have no problem justifying the $250 price. This all-new Kindle offers a solid reading experience at a great price. You can even purchase it now with three free months of Kindle Unlimited service, which has a value of $29.97, making the $89.99 price even a better offer.

When compared to the most recent Kindle, 8th Generation 2016 release, this new Kindle 10th generation features the first form of lighting on a basic Kindle. It has the same resolution as the last generation, but with higher contrast.

Also: 2018 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review: Read in comfort at the pool or beach

Specifications

  • Display: 6 inch E-Ink Carta 1.2, capacitive touch, 167 ppi
  • Storage: 4GB internal
  • Material: Soft touch plastic body
  • Integrated front light: 4 LEDs
  • Battery life: Weeks for reading
  • Wireless connectivity: 801.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth, no cellular option
  • Dimensions: 160 x 113 x 8.7 mm and 174 grams

Hardware

This new basic Kindle is available in white or black with the white one provided to me for testing for a couple of weeks. The white soft touch plastic shell helps you hold onto the Kindle with one hand and looks good. It's lighter than my Oasis so it has been easier to hold in one hand and read for extended periods of time.

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The display is a touchscreen model with a 167 ppi resolution. The latest Paperwhite and Oasis models have screens with 300 ppi. Fonts still look great, but you can tell some clarity difference when looking at images, charts, or maps. Most of what I read is text so I barely noticed a difference reading on this new Kindle.

The major new features on this Kindle is the integrated front lighting provided by four LEDs. With this update, all Kindle models now have integrated lighting so you no longer have to read in well-lit environments or use some kind of reading light to enjoy reading on a kind. This Kindle does not have ambient light sensors to adjust screen brightness automatically like the Oasis. BTW, there are 24 levels of lighting too, just like the other Kindles.

As I get older and start using reading glasses, it is a joy to increase my font on the Kindle and enjoy reading without glasses. I do notice the display being a bit smaller than my Oasis though so if you want the most screen real estate on a Kindle then you may want to consider the upgrade to the Oasis.

Also: 2017 Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Better than paper and waterproof too

There are no buttons or any openings on the top or two sides. A microUSB port and wake button are positioned on the bottom. I know quite a few wireless headsets continue to use microUSB, but I sure hope we see Amazon implement USB-C standard ports in the near future.

Bluetooth was added to the 8th generation Kindle as its major new feature and that same connectivity is again found on this Kindle. You can use it to connect your Bluetooth headphones and enjoy Audible content. I have about 20 Audible books in my collection so downloaded one to test out during this evaluation period. Playback has been flawless with a number of wireless earpods.

You can purchase an Amazon accidental coverage protection plan that covers one year ($19.99), two years ($24.99), or three years ($29.99). You can make up to three claims during the term of your plan, paying a few bucks more for a protection plan sounds like a prudent investment.

Amazon also has a fabric cover available in four different colors for this new generation Kindle. Available colors include Charcoal Black, Cobalt Blue, Punch Red, and Sandstone White. I tested out a Sandstone White one with the white Kindle..

The right side has a plastic frame that securely holds the Kindle in place. A magnet on the back helps hold the front against the back when you have it open for reading. The cover opens like a book and wakes the Kindle when you open it up for reading. It's a nice looking case that works reliably and protects the screen of your Kindle when not in use.

Software

The usability of the new Kindle is the same as what we see on the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis devices. The home page provides you with recommendations based on your reading history, including books from Kindle Unlimited or Prime Reading. You can also view some of your reading stats, which is interesting for fans of data.

There are a number of settings on the device to customize your viewing, reading, and listening experience. Some are available from the home screen while others are available while reading a book. You can fully customize your font and page settings with ten font options, five bold levels, 14 font sizes, spacing, margins, orientation, alignment, and more. You can customize all of this and then save your current setting to a new theme too so your reading experience is up to your full control.

Other settings include reading and page refresh toggles, languages, parental controls, Bluetooth headphone connections and WiFi connections, parental controls, and much more in relation to what is shown on the display as you read.

The top navigation bar has buttons for home, back, settings, Goodreads, Store, search, and menu. The quick settings give you large button access to airplane mode, Bluetooth toggle, sync, all settings, and backlight control slider. The menu takes you to the Kindle store, Audible store, restart, reset, device info, and legal info.

While you are reading a book, a tap near the top opens the navigation bar with a bar below it for Page Display, Go To, and bookmarks. A tap of the menu button gives you options for shop Kindle store, vocabulary builder, settings, disable touchscreen, notes, about this book, about the author, X-Ray, sync to furthest read, and share.

I've never really used X-Ray in books before, but some of the historical non-fiction books I am reading lend themselves to this functionality. It is a great way to find out more about people and the vocabulary of the day when reading such books and adds to the reading experience.

You can choose to show your location in the book, page in the book, time left in the chapter, or time left in the book on the bottom. You can select nothing if you like as well. The clock can also be toggled while reading. Unfortunately, there is still no 24-hour clock option.

A swipe up from the bottom while reading gives you a cool quick navigation view with the ability to tap the right icon and see thumbnails for the four pages before and four pages after where you are reading. This can be handy if you want to quickly jump around recent text.

Tapping and holding on a word gives you the ability to highlight it, add a note, share it, or search. The dictionary opens up in a pop-up window on the page to show you definitions. You can also move the ends of the selectors to highlight or share more than just a single word.

The new Kindle supports Audible books via a Bluetooth headset. While I would love to have seen a 3.5mm headset jack, phone manufacturers are killing this standard port too so it is understandable that the Kindle Paperwhite doesn't have one, especially with the focus on gaining a waterproof rating.

You can play, pause, skip back, or skip ahead using the Kindle Audible play screen. You can adjust your speed and add bookmarks too. Audio plays loud and clear through my Bluetooth headset, but you cannot go back to the home screen to browse the bookstore or read along while you listen.

Amazon stated that more organizational tools are coming soon. When you finish a book, it will be automatically marked as read in your library and synced across all of your reading devices. Thus, you can quickly see which books you have read and which ones you haven't. This has always been something I've wanted to see, especially when reading many books in a series or checking out several books through Kindle Unlimited.

Price and competition

The base Amazon Kindle is available for $89.99 with special offers. If you want to remove the special offers from the lockscreen you can pay Amazon $20. I personally have special offers on my Kindle Oasis and it doesn't bother me at all to see these ads when I first pick up my Kindle.

Amazon is also currently offering three months of free Kindle Unlimited service for free with a new Kindle purchase. That's nearly a $30 savings so if you are an avid reader who would use this service, you can justify the hardware as $59.99.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

Most of the time I had the front lighting set to a level of 10. This provided good lighting on the train and in bed with the room lights off. Even cranked up to the maximum level, 24, the lighting looks quite even across the display and this capability is sure to please Kindle readers.

The current lineup of Kindle readers includes the new Kindle at $89.99, Kindle Paperwhite starting at $129.99, and the Kindle Oasis starting at $24.99. The $40 difference between the Kindle and Paperwhite is justified with higher display resolution, 167 to 300 ppi, one additional LED, and IPx8 waterproof functionality. The Oasis is really designed for avid readers who want a larger display, enhanced lighting, and physical buttons to help turn pages.

The fabric cover offers great protection for the Kindle and enhances the reading experience thanks to its ability to turn on the display and unlock it for quick reading.

If you do not need any water resistance on a Kindle, this all-new one should be perfect for the masses. The reading experience was excellent and I did not see any significant difference in performance between it and my Kindle Oasis.

Specifications

Display
Touchscreen Yes
Technology E Ink
Diagonal Size 6 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 15.2 cm
Output Type monochrome
Pixel Density (ppi) 167
Miscellaneous
Color white
Color Category white
Processor
Processor iMX.6 A9
Clock Speed 1 GHz
Processor Number A9
Memory
Storage 4 GB
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
EBook Reader
Supported Text Formats AZW, AZW3, DOC, DOCX, HTML, MOBI, PDF, PRC (Mobipocket), TXT
Supported Still Image Formats GIF, JPEG, PNG
Features built-in LED reading light
Touchscreen yes
Networking
Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Input Device
Type touchscreen
Battery
Run Time (Up To) 28 day(s)
Technology lithium polymer
Header
Brand Amazon
Product Line Amazon Kindle
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
System
Platform Other
Handheld Type eBook reader
Expansion and Connectivity
Interfaces 1 x Micro-USB
RAM
Installed Size 512 MB
Flash Memory
Installed Size 4 GB
Interface Provided
Interface Micro-USB
Qty 1
Cable Details
Type USB charge cable
Dimensions & Weight (Shipping)
Shipping Width 4.6 in
Shipping Depth 0.5 in
Shipping Height 9.1 in
Shipping Weight 8.32 oz
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 1 year
Dimensions & Weight
Width 4.5 in
Depth 0.3 in
Height 6.3 in
Weight 6.1 oz

Where To Buy

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Where To Buy

Amazon Kindle (white, 2019)

Part Number: 53-012751