Amazon Kindle 2019: does the brand-new basic have everything you need? The answer will surprise you
The 10th generation Amazon ebook reader is the first entry-level Kindle to have what most people want - a cheap and durable device with a back-lit screen.Saheli Sen Gupta
Nowadays, most people prefer to spend their free time binging on a show on Netflix, or Amazon Prime, etc. But there are some who still want to curl up with a good book. And among these, there are quite a few who would choose a Kindle.
The first Amazon Kindle was launched in November 2007, and we’ve come a long way since. While the naysayers will always claim that “physical books are better than ebooks”, you cannot deny the viability of an ebook reader. They are light, can store hundreds of titles, and fit in your coat pocket.
The latest model, called the Kindle 9, is the first basic Kindle to have a built-in light, something Paperwhite and other higher models have always had. To be honest, the built-in light was possibly the biggest advantage the higher models had over the basic one.
With that out of the way, you have to wonder if anyone really needs a Paperwhite (at Rs 12,999) or Oasis (at Rs 21,999) when you can get the basic one for Rs 7,999 only.
Let’s dive a bit deeper.
How does it look and feel?
The Kindle 9 looks exactly like its predecessor - plastic build, good for one-handed use and lightweight, which means it’s great when you’re reading for hours on end. Available in black and white, the device has a 6-inch, ‘glare-free’ display with a resolution of 167 ppi. While the Paperwhite and Oasis have better resolution, we noticed the difference only because we were doing a comparison.
The fonts are sharp and clear, but graphics leave something to be desired. But hey, what more can you expect at the offered price point?
Like we said earlier, the biggest selling point of this device is the built-in light, a first for the basic Kindle. However, there is a slight problem with this - it is not auto-adjustable, which means you will have to manually adjust the brightness every time you shift from a dark environment to a well-lit one and vice versa.
It is simply built and has a power button and a microUSB charging port at the bottom. We were a bit disappointed at the lack of a USB-C port considering how popular they are now, but hopefully Amazon will get around to it soon enough.
While the US version has Bluetooth that enables you to connect your Kindle to a speaker and listen to audiobooks through Audible, the model we received did not have this capability.
Under the hood
Software-wise, nothing has changed. It has the standard Kindle home-screen, with recommendations and reading lists. You can turn this off in your Settings to see a list of your own books (All/Downloaded). It has 4 GB of storage (2.55 GB available for use), which means you can store hundreds of ebooks on it without any trouble.
You can customise your reading by adjusting the fonts and margins, select a word to look up its meaning - all the usual Kindle features, including highlights and notes are all available. There's one drawback. Unlike the Paperwhite and Oasis, this device is not waterproof.
This new model has a really cool way of navigating through an ebook. All you have to do is swipe up from the bottom and use the location bar to quickly jump around chapters and pages.
Usually, Kindle devices have a great battery life. And a search through the internet will tell you that this one does too. However, the piece we received seemed to be draining very fast, even when not in use. It could be a manufacturing defect or a glitchy review piece because the battery on a Kindle usually lasts for weeks.
Having used a fifth generation Kindle for over 6 years now with buttons to turn pages, no touchscreen, and no built-in light, this was a completely different experience. Surprisingly, the touch was way better than I had imagined.
It was smooth yet not so much that you could accidentally skip a few pages. While my Kindle 5 has a case with a reading light that draws power from the device, making it heavier and chunkier, the Kindle 9 felt lighter than a standard smartphone.
Apart from the suspiciously fast-draining battery (which has to be a manufacturing defect for this particular piece since everyone online is raving about it) it was smooth sailing.
If you’re a first-timer looking to buy an ebook reader, it doesn’t get better than this. If you’ve already been using an ebook reader for years this is the device to upgrade to. In fact, if you have a Paperwhite that is old and doesn’t work as smoothly anymore, Kindle 9 would be the perfect upgrade.
All of which made us wonder: has Amazon actually hurt itself by building a basic device that can take on its premium ones? After all, when you can get hundreds of books in one device that has a built-in light for only Rs 7,999, does a more expensive model make any sense at all?
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