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Kindle: $80 And Two Ounces Lighter

Hands-On: Amazon's Fourth-Gen Kindle Refresh
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Apple iPad: Input Lag Benchmark

The fourth-gen Kindle presumably uses a more efficient processor, as Amazon is claiming faster page turns. However, we're unable to confirm the component list because the company uses aluminum shielding to minimize EMI/RFI. In lieu of part numbers, we turned to the high-speed camera (1000 FPS) test commonly used in our tablet reviews.

Page Turning: Kindle Keyboard (3rd-gen) vs Kindle (4th-gen)

Overall, we don't see any change in performance. Pages turn just as quickly as they did on the Kindle Keyboard, though the display technology could be the bottleneck here. E Ink panels always take longer to refresh the screen because more time is needed to change the polarity of the microscopic capsules.

Update 10/4 (Using Firmware 4.0.1 on fourth-gen Kindle and 3.2.1 on Kindle Keyboard):The page refresh option with the new 4.0.1 firmware only applies to the ebooks bought on Amazon. With large PDFs containing OCR, every page refresh = a screen refresh like the Kindle 3rd-gen. However, even with page refresh on and an Amazon purchased ebook, the screen doesn't always refresh on every sixth turn. A page-style refresh only occurs when you're turning between pages of pure text. When there are diagrams or images, it's still a screen refresh. In terms of speed, you can see that a page refresh still occurs about as fast as a screen refresh. The only difference is that a screen refresh requires the display to go all black before rendering the next page.

The new Kindle employs a battery pack about half the size of what's found in the Kindle Keyboard. So, while you can expect naturally expect less battery life, remember that e-book readers can go without a charge much longer than tablets. It's not uncommon to go weeks without plugging the Kindle in.

The Kindle Touch is rated for the same battery life as the Keyboard model, so we're expecting the former to come with a 1750 mAh battery pack.


Kindle (Fourth-Gen) Wi-Fi
Kindle Touch Wi-Fi
Kindle Keyboard (Third-Gen) Wi-Fi
Battery Life: Wi-Fi Off
Half-Day of Reading
1 month
2 months
2 months
Battery Life: Wi-Fi On
Half-Day of Reading
3 weeks
6 weeks
6 weeks
Battery
Li-ion Polymer 890 mAh (3.7 V)Li-ion Polymer 1420 mAh (3.7 V)
Li-ion Polymer 1750 mAh (3.7 V)
Text to Speech/MP3 Playback
N
Y
Y
User Accessible Space
1.35 GiB
3.21 GiB
3.05 GiB
Price
$79 (special offers)
$109
$99 (special offers)
$139
$99 (special offers)
$139


Overall, the differences are small, but the Kindle's real draw is its low $79 price tag. That's far more attractive than Barnes & Noble’s Nook at $139.

The tablet craze makes it easy to gloss over e-book readers. But let's face it: tablets are still a luxury. Amazon's newest Kindle gets us back to basics, satisfying anyone who just needs a portable reading device capable of occasional Web browsing, backed by incredible battery life.

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