Author Topic: Kindle (7th Generation) review  (Read 20019 times)  

Offline FearIndex

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Kindle (7th Generation) review
« on: October 06, 2014, 02:14:11 pm »
Following my order tracking in So you didn't like the Paperwhite, now what? The solutions thread and Is Anyone Getting the new Basic Kindle 5?, I will post my review of the the new basic touch Kindle, the Kindle (7th Generation) aka Kindle, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi. Some call it Kindle 6, others call it Kindle 7 - let's just call it the new Kindle here and start with the first impressions...

The box:

The new Kindle box is a departure from the past several Kindles with angled "frustration-free" rip-open boxes. This one is still a rip-open box, but it is much smaller and rectangular, with a dust cover, and you rip open a sticker which you can alternatively cut open with a knife. All in all, the packaging is much more traditional and screams "for retail", when the older packaging was a little weird and more "for shipping". I like the new packaging, opens much nicer and is better for storage. Inside the usual USB cable in black and paperwork.

The cover:

I also purchased this year's official book-like cover in black aka "Amazon Protective Leather Cover for Kindle (7th Generation), Black - will not fit previous generation Kindle devices". It is much nicer quality than the old $79/$69 Kindle 4/5 cover, which wasn't such great quality, but it is similar in form - although there is no lighted option of course (the new Kindle has no connectors for lighted covers). Instead of Kindle, there is Amazon embossed on the front and inside.

The cover has the turn Kindle on/stand-by when closing cover feature of the PW1/PW2 cover. Otherwise the cover looks and feels somewhat different from the PW1/PW2 versions, with a bit lesser material quality and no metallic "latch" and thus no magnetic seal to keep it closed. Still a nice cover that fits snugly the device, absolutely no complaints. What is new are the back/sides that are lower than the Kindle and thinner than previously, so the cover is a bit easier to remove and makes the setup a little less wide - this is a nice improvement.

The experience:

The new Kindle is fast. $69 Kindle 5 is super slow in comparison. The new processor makes itself felt immediately and it feels faster than Paperwhite 2, perhaps because there are less pixels to draw. It is actually a very satisfying experience. The screen has less resolution than the Paperwhites, but I don't think it shows too much. The graphical menus and book cover views, for example, look pretty much the same as on Paperwhite - if there is a bit of jagged edge somewhere where there is none on the PW2, that is offset by the fact that everything is a bit sharper thanks to less layers on top of the screen on the new Kindle. Basically the UI looks like PW2 without the light adjustment icon.

The device has an infrared touchscreen (similar to 4th generation Kindle Touch), meaning there are infrared/sensor bars surrounding the bezel of the screen. This means the bezel sits slightly higher than it does on, say, Paperwhite 2, but in reality this is not a very notable difference. Larger physical differences come from the angular rear of the chassis and the large bottom bezel of the device, but again not showstoppers in any way - overall the new Kindle in its cover is sized pretty much identical to a Paperwhite 2 in its cover, slightly thinner in fact. The size and form of the device are quite nice. It definitely looks worse in pictures than it does in hand.

Software-wise the new Kindle looks like a Paperwhite 2 (or, I guess, Voyage now) without the frontlight settings, I think that is really the best way to describe it. It looks and operates the same as Paperwhite 2, albeit perhaps slightly faster and without any built-in light or light options.

One nice thing about the new Kindle is also one that makes it look a bit cheaper - the Kindle logo on its bottom bezel is not in white as in $69 Kindle 5/Paperwhite 2, but black on black instead. I used to complain previously that the white on black logo was distracting when reading especially on $69 Kindle 5 with lighted cover (as the light shone on the Kindle logo and "lit" it up), so this has now been fixed. In the black case, the whole setup is very dark, though - there is absolutely no metallic, white or light detailing, other than the screen itself. Selecting a colorful cover would alleviate some of that, of course.

The screen:

Well, this is the clincher, right? How does the screen look and how does the touch feel. Let's clear the air on the latter first, it performs like a champ in my first impressions test. Basically I couldn't tell from using it that it isn't capacitive, but infrared instead. Navigating menus, changing pages, writing text, accessing dictionary for a word, seems to work just like on a PW2. I read a book for a while, just like I do on the PW2 and no problems at all. Certainly a huge improvement over $69 Kindle 5 anyway in usability. It will take longer, of course, to see if there are those pet peeves people used to report on the Kindle Touch of old (which first used the infrared touchscreen), but I did try confusing it by swinging a velcro strip over the screen and other silly forms of "ghost touches" and it didn't react to such non-finger actions at all.

Then the e-ink. The new Kindle is unique in the latest Kindle family in the fact that it has a "pure" e-ink screen, without any layers sitting on top - no frontlight light-guide, no capacitive touchscreen layer. It is as pure as e-ink on the $69 Kindle 5. The resolution, of course, is lower than on PW1/PW2 and remains the same as on $69 Kindle 5 and most older Kindles. Due to the lower resolution, the new Kindle renders text a little larger than the PW2 does on similar settings - roughly speaking, the new Kindle is a bit less than one text size larger, but not exactly. The same fonts are available.

What matters is the perfect paperlikeness that pure e-ink has, which the additional layers on lighted Kindles loose. The new Kindle seems like it could be the best way to enjoy e-ink, as far as Kindles go anyway. Not like a screen, but like electronic paper. Twist the new Kindle to an angle and compare to PW2 in a similar posture and you will see how the text is right there on top of the display on the new Kindle, and underneath some layers on the PW2. Drop a speckle of dust on the screen and on the new Kindle it looks like it is on the text (just like on a $69 Kindle 5), on PW2 it looks like it is somewhat above the text. The new Kindle looks like paper, PW2 looks like an LCD, to exaggerate a little. This was true for $69 Kindle 5, it remains true for the new Kindle.

Indeed, also, the blacks are blacker on the new Kindle than on a PW2 (comparing with light at minimum). The screen is also more grey and less yellow, compared to the quite warm tone of the Paperwhite 2 screen. For those wondering, the new Kindle does not seem to have the yellower e-ink generation. The new Kindle background is not only a colder tone, it is also slightly darker than the PW2. Basically, the new Kindle screen looks similar to the $69 Kindle 5 screen. There are some unit to unit variance between basic screens, but it is obvious the new Kindle I have has blacker blacks than my PW2. I have had some $69 Kindle 5's with a bit blacker text than the new Kindle, but also some with a little less black text due to the variance. Anyway, clearly blacker than PW2.

The weight:

Weight of the new Kindle and the official cover compared to some other devices:

New Kindle (7th Generation) without cover: 191 g
New Kindle (7th Generation) with official cover: 300 g

$69 Kindle 4B/5 without cover: 168 g
$69 Kindle 4B/5 with official lighted cover: 313 g

Paperwhite 1 3G: 220 g
Paperwhite 1 3G with official cover: 355 g
Paperwhite 2 Wi-Fi: 208 g

Kindle DX "Graphite": 536 g
Kindle DX "Graphite" with official cover: 900 g

The verdict:

First impressions after one evening are too soon for a final verdict, but I must add that even though my initial impressions are good, this particular unit is going back due to a physical quality flaw - a piece of bezel glue is hanging out from the inner side, over the screen and can't be pulled out cleanly. I will get a replacement and, also, I will check out the Amazon recommended Verso clip-on light to see how much I can truly get out of the new Kindle.

I will say two things, though. This thing is surprisingly good. This might turn into my favorite Kindle, were it not for the fact that I don't expect to like a clip-on light (I used to love Amazon's lighted covers, but now the Kindles that use them are showing their age). Still, I will give it a go.

Second thing, the speed at which the new Kindle operates really drives home how slow the $69 Kindle 5 is by now. Simply the task of changing a page takes ages longer on the previous basic Kindle, compared to the new "basic" Kindle.

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    Offline Betsy the Quilter

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #1 on: October 06, 2014, 02:59:42 pm »
    Nice review, FearIndex!  Thanks for posting it.


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    Offline Toby

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #2 on: October 06, 2014, 08:50:04 pm »
    Great review. I am wondering if  the screen too grey? Is it as dark as the kindle Touch? I find the screen on the Touch too dark.

    Offline FearIndex

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 12:40:44 am »
    Great review. I am wondering if  the screen too grey? Is it as dark as the kindle Touch? I find the screen on the Touch too dark.

    Thanks Toby and Betsy. :)

    I would expect Kindle Touch having a version of the same screen as most other 4th generation and afterwards Kindles (outside of the Paperwhites). There have been some gradual changes, be they generational or manufacturing lot to lot, but it is very hard to say beforehand what the particular unit one gets will be like. In theory they are the same, in practice there are some shades (literally) of difference. $69 Kindle 5 had very dark blacks for many in the autumn of 2012, but in late 2013 the batches of the same deivce seemed to have a little less black texted e-ink screens, but even that may be anecdotal.

    In my story about $69 Kindle 5 screen variances I posted this picture a year ago:



    Once I get my replacement 7th generation Kindle, I will see if there is variance between it and the unit I'm returning - I am expecting there to be some. The new Kindle I have is somewhere between the bottom two in that picture, I would wager.

    In that image, the bottom left $69 Kindle 5 is a 2012 unit that I've kept. It really has the best e-ink screen I have ever seen, anywhere (very black text, quite light background). The new Kindle isn't quite as good, but still very good.

    So, if your Kindle Touch was too grey, that doesn't necessarily mean anything regarding the specific unit of some other Kindle you will get. Some have darker backgrounds and some have darker texts and different combinations of these, I have seen many variances and I would expect there were variances between Kindle Touch units as well. And I fully expect it to be the same with the latest Kindle, some unit to unit differences in such attributes.

    That said, all of these have been better than the Paperwhites when it comes to text blackness, to my eye, but of course the Paperwhites allow you to lighten up the background using the light (if one likes that effect). So, while there are unit to unit differences, there is still a clear difference between the Paperwhites (which use a different type of screen plus those layers on top) and other 4th+ generation Kindles.

    Perhaps give it a shot, see how you like the new Kindle and report on the screen? The touch interface seems to be very good. Anyway, I should get the replacement unit within a week (and a clip-on light), so I'll keep on reporting. :)

    Offline Toby

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 07:58:51 pm »
    Thanks for another great review. I look forward to your next review when your new one arrives.

    Offline Toby

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #5 on: October 08, 2014, 08:14:29 pm »
    I ordered the Voyage, so I am waiting to see if the text is darker on that. Plus, the Voyage is smaller & lighter. The price is great on the Basic 7. Too bad that Amazon didn't keep the same size, or make it smaller on the Basic 7.

    Offline FearIndex

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #6 on: October 11, 2014, 07:11:11 am »
    Time to complete the review I started above.

    The fault:

    I now have around a week behind me with the new Kindle (7th Generation), and experience with two units since the first one has to be replaced. Let's start with what was wrong with that - a piece of glue/sticker (I guess) holding the bezel in place was protruding over the screen and couldn't just be pulled out. A small thing, but my eye caught it every time while reading, so back it goes and the replacement fortunately is already here. By the way, in this image you can also see the infrared touchscreen bar that is the straight line beneath the protruding piece of adhesive, between the top bezel and the screen. It looks quite dark in the image due to lighting, but it is, in fact, transparent.



    For larger version (click e.g. Download): http://www.photobucket.com/user/fearindex/media/kindle_7th_generation_2_zpsa4d14a64.jpg.html

    The screen:

    The replacement new Kindle, luckily, is perfect without the fault above and it is a keeper. This also afforded me an opportunity to see and photograph two new Kindles with the $69 Kindle 5 and the Paperwhite 2. In the photo the $69 Kindle 5 is on the left (my most dark-texted unit from 2012), then the first new Kindle, replacement new Kindle third and Paperwhite 2 on the right (with its light level at lowest possible):



    For larger version (click e.g. Download): http://www.photobucket.com/user/fearindex/media/kindle_7th_generation_1_zps7e2d94f2.jpg.html

    It is often hard to judge screen details from photographs, because lighting, camera settings, possible flash use, computer displays etc. play such an integral part and muddy things. I intentionally took the photo without too much light around, so that the differences are as pronounced as they can be. Seeing these four in person makes a few observations clear: The Paperwhite 2 has a significantly more yellow screen than the other three. Its text is also the least black. The $69 Kindle 5 from 2012 has the darkest text of them all, although it also has different fonts compared to the others (not all $69 Kindle 5 units are quite as dark-texted, though, as this unit). The two new Kindles in the middle are quite similar screen-wise, I would say the replacement having a tad lighter background, but no major differences. As we learned earlier from e.g. $69 Kindle 5 screen variances (and this has been the case with other Kindles as well), not all e-ink units are completely uniform/the same. To me, it seems like a fairly safe bet that if you bought a $69 Kindle 5 in the last year, the new Kindle (7th Generation) probably has a screen very similar to that, but over time e-ink batches/lots of course may have more variance, so it is hard to say how exactly an e-ink Kindle from 2011 or 2012 would compare - some difference could be expected. Paperwhites and Voyage will have a different screen compared to the basic ones, though, always.

    The light:

    I also got the Amazon recommended Verso clip-on light. As far as my comparison with $69 Kindle 5 and Paperwhite 2 goes, I wouldn't say this light is as bright as the $69 Kindle 5 cover light, but it is bright enough and with its adjustability you can get a more Kindle 3 Keyboard lighted cover style of lighting over the page, instead of hotspotting like on $69 Kindle 5 with its official lighted cover. I read half a book in complete darkness with the Verso light already and it worked very well for that purpose. Compared to Paperwhite 2, of course, the light helps keep that paper-likeness when reading in darkness, compared to the screen-likeness of the Paperwhite 2. Reading in darkness, the lit screen of Paperwhite 2 has a jarring contrast compared to the dark surroundings, whereas the Verso light lights up both the screen and a bit of the surroundings, making things easier on the eyes. Verso light's light-level is not adjustable though (just its position), so that point goes to the Paperwhite 2. I posted a separate review for the light.



    For larger version (click e.g. Download): http://www.photobucket.com/user/fearindex/media/kindle_7th_generation_3_zps096fc0a4.jpg.html

    The touch:

    After a week, I must say the infrared touchscreen really works well. It feels as responsive as the capacitive touch on Paperwhite 2 (even for things like pinch to zoom) and I haven't had any issues with "ghost" touches. It seems very good at reacting only to actual finger touches and I use it exactly like I use the Paperwhite 2, same muscle memory works fine. And the lack of a touchscreen layer on top of the e-ink screen does help with the text quality, so that's good. The slightly raised bezel with its infrared sensors doesn't bother me at all, in practice it doesn't feel any different from the other Kindles. I have also always liked the Paperwhite user-interface and touch operation (even though I expected originally to miss page change buttons), so all in all as this operates basically the same, the touch part is good. It is actually better they went with the Kindle Touch (4th Generation) type of touch, instead of a capacitive touch layer, because it keeps the e-ink experience pure, without any additional layers on top, thus offering good choice compared to the "layered up" Paperwhite 2 and Voyage. Those who like e-ink pure can go for the basic one, others can pick the frontlit versions.

    The verdict:

    The new Kindle (7th Generation) is a solid product. It is basically a Paperwhite 2 with $69 Kindle 5's screen (and without the Paperwhite 2's extra layers on top of the screen). It is very fast in operation, slightly faster than a Paperwhite 2, probably due to less pixels to draw on the screen. Very fast, good e-ink screen and text blackness, up-to-date software features and a nice book-like official cover that is suitably less bulky than the old one, while still retaining a nice feel and having the standby on/off cover closing feature too.

    Were the new Kindle available with lighted cover support, it would easily be my favorite Kindle so far, but even with just something like the Verso light attached to it, I'm thinking the Paperwhite 2 and upcoming Voyage will now have some real competition in my household... One thing is certain, tough: It is finally time to retire the trusty old $69 Kindle 5. After seeing the new Kindle fly like the wind, I just can't go back to the molasses that the previous basic generation looks in comparison. The simple act of changing a page is very slow on the $69 Kindle 5 compared to the new Kindle (7th Generation).

    I recommend the new Kindle to anyone who wants a new Kindle, but doesn't like the light and touch layers on top.

    Offline Broadus

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #7 on: October 11, 2014, 07:59:52 am »
    Thanks for the completed review.

    After returning my PW1 due to the screen blotching, and having already given away my Kindle 3 to one of our daughters, I sat out the PW2 offering and have been using my iPad Air for my Kindle reading. However, I've wanted to return to e-ink, especially for bedtime reading. I've wondered if the built-in light of the PW2 might be too stark in the dark room and bother my wife, and your updated review of the new basic Kindle with the Verso light makes me think that may be the way to go.

    I'm still weighing the options, though, and may wait till the Voyage comes out to make a final decision.

    Offline FearIndex

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #8 on: October 11, 2014, 08:34:27 am »
    Thanks for the completed review.

    After returning my PW1 due to the screen blotching, and having already given away my Kindle 3 to one of our daughters, I sat out the PW2 offering and have been using my iPad Air for my Kindle reading. However, I've wanted to return to e-ink, especially for bedtime reading. I've wondered if the built-in light of the PW2 might be too stark in the dark room and bother my wife, and your updated review of the new basic Kindle with the Verso light makes me think that may be the way to go.

    I'm still weighing the options, though, and may wait till the Voyage comes out to make a final decision.

    Thank you for the kind words.

    Personally I found PW2 well enough (if one gets a good unit) to not be bothered by the still-remaining slight blotchiness, but PW1 indeed was quite bad. It will be interesting to see how Kindle Voyage fares in comparison. I have one on order, but joined the fray so late that it will be long before it gets here - I will let others, more prompt orderers review that one this time around. :)

    That said, if one found PW1 jarring, there is a good chance you might find PW2 and even Voyage jarring just the same - depending on one's level of perfection seeking in the light evenness. I've noticed that an unevenly lit screen is more problematic for many than a reading light (clip-on or otherwise) even if the latter too casts an uneven light, there is just something more jarring about an uneven light within the screen itself - splotchiness is worse than one evenly spreading hotspotting for example. But for me, the PW2 (the good unit I got after a replacement) is already good enough, so perhaps Voyage will work for you too, depending on how good Voyage ends up being of course.

    As for light bothering a spouse, I would actually expect PW1/PW2/Voyage being better in that respect compared to any top-lighted Kindles with covers/clip-ons, especially if you can read with the front-light in a low setting. So, Voyage might be better with regards to the spouse. But for the reader (you), the contrast of a Paperwhite screen in an otherwise completely dark room could be more jarring than with a top-down light such as Verso or a lighted cover, because the Paperwhite screen will be a lit rectangle with sharp edges, while a top-down reading light will cast a softer light that lands more evenly over a larger area. This is especially true if one reads a Paperwhite with a light setting above the absolutely lowest settings.

    Offline Broadus

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #9 on: October 11, 2014, 08:55:11 am »
    Thanks for the further explanation, FearIndex. I would read at night with the lowest possible light setting, and I also don't want to "glow up" the room. Perhaps the Voyage will be the way to go. There are always tradeoffs, so it seems.


    Offline Vicki G.

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #11 on: October 13, 2014, 03:44:46 pm »
    Thanks for the review, FearIndex.  I've been debating to get or not to get.  I have a Kindle 5 and a PW2.  I've recently found ways to mess around with the PW and get a better reading experience from it (use Helvetica font - which I hate - and up the light a bit) but I still prefer the old e-ink appearance.  So I just ordered the 7th Generation.  It is arriving day after tomorrow.  I can remember all the times I wished and even some of those times I wrote Amazon requesting a Kindle with the screen of the Kindle 5 but the features of the PW because I missed the features that I really enjoy, mainly Reading Time and X-Ray.  Looks like it's now here. 

    Thanks again and Happy Kindling!

    Offline FearIndex

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #12 on: October 14, 2014, 10:39:12 am »
    Thank you. :)

    Yes, the new Kindle is basically a faster Kindle Touch with the latest PW2 software, but without audio or lighted cover support. I guess it is lighter too.


    Offline FearIndex

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    Re: Kindle (7th Generation) review
    « Reply #14 on: October 26, 2014, 01:40:33 am »
    Addition on page refreshes:

    For what it is worth, I tested on my Kindle (7th Generation), it goes much further before a page refresh (when not in refresh after every page mode) than old Kindles (4th Gen onwards) that I remember doing it around every six pages.

    I could get the Kindle (7th Generation) going as high as 23 pages before a page refresh and even that was because it clearly refreshes on chapter breaks, which was the case there. It may have gone on much longer, still, without a full page refresh.

    I haven't tested how PW2 does it.

    Funny. I tested on Gone Girl, too. :)

    But yes, expect it to be the same with other books according to past experience. Images may trigger a page refresh.

    Reading the Kindle user guide on Kindle (7th Generation) - this is not Voyage, but its same-generation basic sibling - refreshes quite a bit more often due to images and large headings on a lot of the pages. It too seems to not refresh the full page whenever there is just text there, but if there are images, even small icons, then it prefers to do a full refresh before and after the image page.

    Taking a random novel from cloud, Railway Man,  I got to 52 pages (!) without full refresh and that too was only because of a chapter break. I would say, if Voyage is the same as Kindle (7th Generation)  - and I do believe they run pretty much the same software - this should be applicable to any book where there isn't much images or big headings or the like.

    The only thing that gives me pause is that Kindle Voyage uses a higher resolution screen than Kindle (7th Generation). I wonder if that affects the page refresh algorithm in any way? Those with a Voyage can fill in.

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