Kindle Touch Review | Is that Really Touch Screen

Kindle Touch offers tablet like touch screen interface while retaining E-ink display that is considered ideal for e-Readers.

As you will be learning later in this review, the innovative infra-red technology used in this model of Kindle has not impacted its E-ink display in any way.

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First, a look at Kindle Touch Specs in a tabular format, providing both Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G in a side by side comparison.

Kindle Touch Review | 3G & WiFi Comparison

FeaturesKindle TouchKindle Touch 3G
Size172 x 120 mm172 x 120 mm
Thickness10.1 mm10.1 mm
Weight213 grams221 grams
DisplayE-ink PearlE-ink Pearl
Storage3,000 Books3,000 Books
Battery2 Months2 Months
SpeakersStereoStereo
Cloud StorageYesYes
Audio  FilesYesYes
NetworkWiFiWiFi & 3G
Price$99~139$149~189

 

Kindle Touch | Form Factor

  • Kindle Touch – 6.8″ x 4.7″ x 0.40″ thick
  • Kindle 4  – 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″ thick,
  • Kindle Keyboard – 7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.34″ thick

As you can see from above comparison, Kindle Touch is bigger and thicker than the fourth generation Kindle 4 but it is still smaller than Kindle Keyboard.

In terms of weight, Kindle Touch is heavier than Kindle 4, weighing 213 grams in its WiFi version and 221 grams in 3G version.

The extra weight of Kindle Touch is due to its bigger battery which is rated to last for two months with wireless turned off, compared to the battery in Kindle 4 which is rated to last for a month.

In practical terms, the weight of Kindle Touch is a non issue. It weighs about 120 grams lesser than the lightest tablets in the market (Googles Nexus 7) and its weight is comparable to holding a small book.

Kindle Touch | Storage

Kindle Touch comes with 4GB of memory out of this about 3GB is available for storage. As per Amazon, 3GB that is available for storage is good enough for storing about 3,000 books.

This is really huge, when you consider the amount of actual space that 3,000 real books would have occupied and that fact that you will be able to carry your entire collection of books with you while travelling.

kindle-touch-review-storage

Amazon also provides cloud backup for all books purchased on Amazon, which helps in case you happen to lose your Kindle and with it your entire book collection.

Kindle Touch | Display

Kindle Touch comes with a 6-inch E-ink screen that offers 600 x 800 resolution at 167 pixels per inch.

The quality of display is the same as in other models in Kindle family, crisp paper like gray scale display with 16 shades of gray.

To accommodate users of all age groups, Kindle Touch lets you choose from eight font sizes. You can even adjust line spacing, words per line and set the typeface to either default font, Condensed or Sans Serif.

Why E-ink Display

While tablets are growing in popularity as multi-purpose devices, they do not really make good e-Readers due to their bright LCD screen display.

LCD screens are power hungry, requiring bigger and heavier batteries which only lasts for 6-10 hours compared to extra long battery life seen in e-Readers.

In terms of display, LCD screens are bright and colorful, which is good for videos, movies and games but not for reading books.

kindle-touch-review-e-ink-display

In comparison, E-ink displays are miserly in power consumption and can go for extended periods even when equipped with smaller and lighter batteries.

E-ink displays use actual ink particles to produce print like text display similar to what you see in a brand new book.

Unlike LCD screens, E-ink screens have the same brightness as that of its surroundings which makes them easy on the eyes and allows for extended reading time without experiencing eye-strain associated with LCD screens.

Concerns about Display

Now that you know the good qualities of E-Ink display, you might be concerned whether the touch screen technology has impacted the E-Ink display on Kindle Touch in any way.

The good news, there is absolutely no difference between Kindle Touch and other models of Kindle as far as the display quality is concerned.

Amazon has provided Touch Screen features in Kindle Touch without even using an actual touch screen!

Here is how this Clever Technology Works

Unlike tablets, Kindle Touch does not make use of touch sensitive layers on top of the E-ink screen which may have compromised its quality. Instead, it uses infrared technology to power its touch-screen functions.

The infrared technology is placed in the bezel surrounding the screen in the form of two extremely thin IR sensors placed on the top and side of the screen.

When your finger taps the screen it interrupts the IR beams and Kindle Touch registers this as a touch and interprets what the user is trying to do. The IR beams are so thin that your finger needs to get close to the screen for it to work, this makes the whole experience similar to interacting with a touch screen!

Kindle Touch | Ghosting

Another issue that you may have come across on the Internet is about the Screen of Kindle Touch retaining impressions of the previous page (Ghosting effect).

This phenomenon appears to happen because unlike other models of Kindle the screen of Kindle Touch does not refresh on every page turn, it refreshes every six pages. This is the default setting, but you can change this and set your eReader to refresh every page.

In any case, this is not a rampant occurrence and has been reported by some customers who found the ghosting effect for the first 2 weeks and thereafter their Kindle started behaving normally even with the default settings (refresh every six pages).

Kindle Touch | Touch Screen Interface

The user interface (UI) in Kindle Touch is entirely controlled by touch. Tapping on the right of the screen takes you to the next page while tapping on the left takes you back. Tapping on the top of the screen brings you the menu/toolbar.

kindle-touch-review-screen-interface

Kindle Touch - Supports gestures

Swiping your finger right to left will move you onto the next page while doing the opposite (left to right) takes you back. Swiping upwards takes you to the next chapter and swiping downwards takes you to the previous chapter.

Kindle Touch also supports pinch-and-zoom functions while viewing PDF files and using its experimental web browser.

How Responsive is Touch Screen

Do not expect the touch screen interface to be as responsive as that of an iPad or other tablets in the market.

The difference in response time that you might notice on Kindle Touch is due to limitations of E-Ink, which has a slower refresh rate compared to the LCD screen of a tablet.

Considering the benefits of E-ink, slow refresh rate is something that comes as a trade off and perfectly tolerable considering that you will only be turning pages on an eReader and not playing fast paced games.

Kindle Touch | On Screen Keyboard

The on-screen keyboard really works well and allows typing at fast speed. Those who are used tablets might experience a slight delay in visual feedback which again is due to slower refresh rate of E-Ink that we discussed above.

kindle-touch-review-onscreen-keyboard

In terms of convenience, the on-screen keyboard on Kindle Touch is a lot better than using the navigation pad of Kindle 4.

Some of you might even find it better than typing on Kindle Keyboard considering that the virtual keys are well spaced and there is also an auto-complete bar that pops up.

The on-screen keyboard is certainly an advantage and recommended for those who like to type in notes while reading and search a lot for books and information.

Dictionary Look Up

Kindle Touch comes with built-in New Oxford American dictionary support and lets you instantly look up words while reading.

The definition of the word is displayed instantly at the bottom of the screen when you touch and hold the word that you want to look up.

This is a good feature considering that most of us are less likely to break our reading flow and go look up for a word in a dictionary.

Kindle Touch | X-Ray Feature

Another feature that is really cool is Amazon’s X-Ray feature that brings up interesting information about people, places and things with a single tap.

Clicking on the X-ray feature brings up a list of names, characters, historical figures and places mentioned in and associated with the book that you are reading.

Clicking on the character name will bring up a biography and clicking on a historical figure or a place will bring up its Wikipedia entry or detailed descriptions from Amazon’s community powered encyclopedia (Shelfari).

In case you are wondering, wireless connection is not at all required for using the X-Ray feature. These interesting X-Ray entries are pulled up instantly from a side file linked to the book that you are reading.

Web Browser & Text to Speech

Text-to-speech and Amazon’s Web browser are placed in the experimental section, although Amazon’s web browser has been around for over 4 years.

One notable advantage of Amazon’s web browser is that it supports zoom-in and zoom-out using finger expand and contract gestures.

However, the disadvantage with Amazon’s web browser in Kindle Touch is that it only works in WiFi mode. Unlike in Kindle Keyboard where the 3G network offers unrestricted web browsing.

Text to Speech function (again Experimental!) lets you read books with closed eyes, in case that is what you prefer to do while travelling or when you are tired. Just get ‘the text-to-speech feature’ going and your Kindle will read the book to you.

Text to speech works only in those books that Amazon has negotiated the rights for and not on all books. It is a good feature for those who are visually impaired and also those who understand more listening to a robotic voice!

Kindle Touch | MP3 Support

Music lovers will be happy to know that Kindle Touch comes with Stereo speakers and an experimental MP3 player that lets you play music while you are reading.

In order to play music you first need to transfer the MP3 files to Kindle from your computer and then play them by tapping at the top of the screen:-

Menus =>Experimental =>MP3 Player.

The MP3 player interface pops up at the bottom of the screen, showing the name of the track being played and basic music player functions like Forward, Back, Pause, and Volume control.

Downsides

Kindle Touch is such an excellent e-Reader that it is really hard to pick any downsides. However, there are some downsides that we have picked up.

Kindle Touch does not have a built-in light for reading at night or poor lighting condition. So you will need to go for a lighted Kindle Covers in case you are the type who reads at night (while your partner is sleeping!).

kindle-touch-lighted-cover

Another limitation that Amazon has imposed on Kindle Touch is its lack of support for EPUB. This can be a source of irritation in case you are thinking of borrowing books from your public library.

Canadian libraries as well as those in UK and Australia lend in EPUB format while libraries within the United States have a lending program for Kindle.

Thinking of solutions, there are free software programs like Calibre that can easily convert EPUB books into a Kindle compatible format. However, use of such programs for DRM protected library books is questionable and up for an ethical debate.

Kindle Touch | 3G or WiFi

Kindle Touch is available both in 3G and WiFi versions and in-fact Kindle is the only e-Reader that offers free 3G in its Touch, Keyboard and DX models.

It is certainly a nice feature that frequent travelers will understand and appreciate better.

However, it is worth noting that 3G-connectivity in Kindle Touch is only limited to buying books from Amazon and accessing Wikipedia. In order to browse other sites you will have look for a WiFi Hot-spot and use WiFi connectivity.

Here is how Amazon has clarified this issue

Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia–all over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Experimental Web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.

Kindle Keyboard and Kindle DX are the models to go for in case you are looking all time 3G connectivity. These models allow unlimited and unrestricted web browsing using Amazon’s Free 3G connectivity.

Kindle Touch | With ‘Ads’ or Without

Apart from WiFi and 3G models, there are two other variations to Kindle Touch, it is also available in with ‘Ads’ and without ‘Ads’ versions.

Going for Kindle ’with Ads and special offers’ will save you about $40.

The ‘Ads’ are not really obtrusive and do not bother at all while you are reading a book. You might even like them for their variety compared to seeing portraits of famous authors or a picture of your choice that regular Kindle Touch offers.

You can always ask Amazon to remove the ‘Ads’ and unsubscribe from “Special Offers”. You will be paying the difference between Kindle Touch with ‘Ads’ and Kindle Touch without ‘Ads’.

Kindle Touch Review | Conclusion

Kindle Touch is a good choice for academic use and readers who are constantly in a learning mode. It is so much easier to search and look up for words using the touch interface compared to using a D-pad of the cheaper Kindle 4.