As a long-time multiple Kindle owner/fan with serious issues with frontlight technology, I am always on the lookout for improvements (see my signature for reviews). Some may have read that I recently ordered the latest 2016 Kindle updates
as well as some cases and lights. As I already own the current Oasis and Voyage, this was an update on the lower end of the spectrum.
I got the new basic touch Kindle (8th Generation) in both black and white, with black and magenta covers, the new Kindle Paperwhite in white and a blue cover. I also got the Belkin Reading Light for Kindle in black and white, that Amazon UK recommends for the Kindle. I already had the Verso Clip Light that Amazon USA recommends for the Kindle, so I was looking forward to comparing these things.Amazon Covers
Whilst the new Amazon Protective Covers for both the new basic Kindle and the Paperwhite are of fairly cheap, plasticy materials, they do look fresh and interesting to me. I am a bit envious of them when reading on the arguably higher-end Kindles, which seem dull in comparison. I wouldn't mind having one of these types of covers for the Oasis, for example. The covers do add a bit of size, but otherwise they are light in weight, connect nicely to the sides of the readers and seem carefree. I would gladly recommend these covers and their colorful versions especially. The black is equally OK too, but the other colors are aesthetically more interesting to me.White Kindles
The interesting departure for recent years here were the white Kindles. I did like white on the old Kindle 2 back in the day, so I was interested to give these a go. And indeed, they do look very nice, especially when combined with the colorful Amazon Covers. So for aesthetics, I would gladly go for white. That said, when reading under external lighting (and not just a lit screen), the whiter Kindle does loose some of its relative contrast and its screen does look more grey than it does on the black device.
For reading, black is probably better. Even the nice cases show a little of their color on the sides of the device when reading, so for the best, purest, most distraction-free reading experience, black-on-black is probably still the way to go for the device/cover. But darn, does that white on magenta, white on blue, look very nice!Kindle improvements
As for the Kindles themselves, the new basic Kindle is an improvement over the old one. I like its more rounded shape, it is indeed smaller and performs better. The touch is still infrared, so there is no layer on top of e-ink. They have even done some great things with anti-aliasing to make the screen look sharper than it actually is. The blacks on the pure e-ink screen are deep and the screen is just pretty much troublefree. The infrared touch works great too. However, I must say the screen resolution is really, really starting to show its age (167 ppi compared to 300 ppi on Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis). I can not get over the fact that I now notice pixels when reading text and the deeply recessed screen feels a bit cramped compared to the modern Oasis and Voyage. Spoiled, I guess... Yet, with a right external or clip-on lighting, the basic Kindle is a very good contender in my books. It is what it is and good at it.
The latest Paperwhite version is a mixed bag. On the other hand, I think it is indeed a fairly mature product. The white color is nice, the screen resolution is sufficient and the lighting has improved from the early days. Yet, it is hardly the perfect frontlight I was hoping for. First of all, the stagelighting is quite prominent, the contrast and blacks are worse than on the Kindle Oasis and the screen brightness has less range too. On the other hand, other than the stagelighting, there is no such long gradient of color as there is on Oasis/Voyage across the screen - nor is there any prominent splotching of Paperwhites of old. It looks quite good, but not perfect. Basically it seems each frontlit Kindle continues to have their own unique pros and cons... Finally, the Paperwhite is starting to feel a bit huge. Unlike the basic Kindle, it has not been reduced in size.
Both of these lower-end Kindles are noticeably slower in speed than the Kindle Oasis e.g. when turning pages and I'm quickly missing the page turn buttons too. On the Oasis page changes are positively instantaneous (I don't really even notice the full screen refresh), but obviously slower on these lower-end devices.Belkin Reading Light for Kindle
Out of all these devices, I would say only the Belkin Reading Light for Kindle
really disappointed. I would not buy it again. Overall it is a perfectly working product, both device colors look nice and it has an adjustable arm and two brightness settings. But the thing is huge! It holds three AAA batteries and adds a quite a lot of weight and bulk, making the device harder to operate. Worse still, it seems hard to firmly connect it anywhere, because it expects a wider bezel than the latest Kindle has. It also does not sit very tight. My recommendation is to skip this light and go for the Verso Clip Light for your clip-on lighting needs, which uses small coin batteries, sits tight, works relatively workably even when using a cover and is in every way a better product for this purpose.
In summary, I guess I'll be mostly reading on my Kindle Oasis still. Compared to these, it is very small, very sleek, very fast, has great blacks, great resolution and a versatile cover. Too bad it is imperfect in its own way and aesthetically bit dull compared to the more adventurous and youthful low-end devices.
The search continues...