Amazon Kindle Touch review
When Amazon announced the current range of Kindles, we were disappointed to find only one device – the bargain-basement Kindle Wi-Fi – would make it to the UK. Both the Fire and the touchscreen E Ink version were for US eyes only. Alas, there’s no sign of the former yet, but Amazon has belatedly brought the Kindle Touch to these shores, with a 3G and Wi-Fi version now available.
At first glance, there isn’t much different about this version. It’s dressed up in the same two-tone silvery grey plastic on the front and a soft-touch rubbery finish on the rear, the ports and power switch are on the bottom edge, and it uses the same 6in, 600 x 800 resolution E Ink screen. Sit the two side by side, however, and the differences become obvious.
This being a touchscreen, the buttons on the edges have disappeared, and so has the D-pad – although there’s still a single-function home button in its place. A more significant difference, however, is the comparative size of the two devices. This Kindle is thicker, taller, broader and 32% heavier than its brother.
The extra size is due to the optical touchscreen. As with readers we’ve seen from Sony and Kobo, this Kindle has infrared sensors embedded in a 3mm-deep rim surrounding the screen, meaning you can even flip the pages while wearing gloves. It’s still a light, compact ebook reader, though, measuring 10.5mm from front to back and weighing 216g.
The bigger question is: how does the touchscreen affect the Kindle’s fabled usability? Well, it isn’t a complicated system. Tapping and swiping on buttons, links and menus brings the desired effect. Multitouch support allows pinch-to-zoom on a web page and in the main reading view.
A new feature exclusive to the Touch is X-Ray, which gives an overview (complete with surrounding text extracts) of where in a book various terms, locations and characters are mentioned. This is a potentially useful study aid for students, but few books support the feature right now.
We didn't have a problem with fingerprints - the matte display doesn't seem to pick them up like the glass touchscreen of a tablet or smartphone. And since the optical touchscreen system interposes nothing between the screen and the reader’s eye, it looks every bit as good as the cheaper model too.
Text looks crisp and clear, no matter which of the eight font sizes it’s set to, and page refreshes take place quickly. With a standard text-only Kindle ebook loaded, we measured the page-to-page time at 0.7 seconds – the same as the non-touch model.