Emerging Technology

GADGET WATCH: Kindle Touch

Patrick Stafford /

The Kindle has been the go-to eReader in the United States for years now, but it’s taken a little while for it to have the same kind of traction in Australia. Now, however, it’s starting to gain more market share and is really getting some good attention.

The Kindle Touch, announced by the company last year, is among one of many models the company revealed in an attempt to challenge other tablets and eReaders on the market. But is it powerful or useful enough to do the trick?

Hardware and Features

The device features the same six-inch screen as the other Kindle models available, complete with E-Ink features, but adds an infrared touch-screen control system. The device itself is 3G and Wi-Fi enabled, although some web browsing is only available over Wi-Fi.

The device comes with 4GB of memory, and a battery life that will last on standby for up to two months.

The Kindle Touch comes with a USB 2.0 connector, a standard audio jack and speakers on the back of the device. It weighs 213 grams, and features a 600 x 800 pixel resolution.

What’s the consensus?

The Kindle has never used a touch screen before, so some users have been wary about adding the technology to their beloved device.

However, reviewers suggest the Kindle actually reacts quite well.

Over at CNET, the publication says that instead of just simply clicking buttons, you use the touchscreen to tap and turn pages, or swipe and flick through them faster – and notes that Amazon has “clearly thought long and hard about the interface”.

“Tap anywhere in the right or lower sides of the screen and you’ll go forward a page, or tap a much smaller area to the left to go back. It’s a solution that seems to work well for either right or left-handed readers. Tapping the top of the screen brings up the menu and toolbar.”

Toms Hardware noted there isn’t actually much physical difference between the Touch version of the Kindle and the regular version, although the Touch is a little thicker.

However, it did say the E-Ink screen isn’t the fastest on the market, although the lag isn’t necessarily that noticeable.

The publication did praise the purchasing system, saying little has changed, but said the device itself was fast, responsive, and still easy to navigate.

But over at TechRadar, there were a few criticisms, although it did say the touch controls were very natural.

“The only place where the touch interface struggles is scrolling,” it said. “There aren’t many lists in the Kindle interface, but a book with a lot of chapters might give you problems.”

“Basically, you drag to scroll, as you would expect, but the delay makes it a bit of a pain. More than that, there’s no momentum scrolling, so if there’s a very long list, and you’re not sure what to search for, you could be there for some time.”

The publication also said there is no built-in lighting, and there is also no ePub support. Overall, it said that while the device was easy to use, the extra features may not be worth the money.

Who’s it for?

There’s a lot to like about the Kindle Touch. A solid device with a good amount of memory that reacts quickly and can last a long time on a single charge – everything you need for an efficient device.

If you’re not a Kindle user then there may not be enough here to grab one off the shelf, but if you’re used to the Amazon brand and looking for an upgrade, this is a worthy choice.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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