Amazon this morning announced a smaller, lighter Kindle—available now for pre-order for the same $80 price as the current 5th-Generation model. In addition, the company introduced a new Export Notes feature that will arrive in an over-the-air software update for the new Kindle as well as for the Paperwhite, Voyage, and Oasis.
In a press release issued yesterday under an embargo that was lifted today at 6 a.m. PT, Amazon described the new Kindle as “thinner, lighter, and with twice the memory” as the current model. It will be available in black or white, the latter an option not seen since the Kindle Keyboard nearly five years ago.
Amazon described the new Kindle as having “a more rounded design, making it easy and comfortable to hold in one hand at any angle for extended reading sessions.”
Replying to my emailed question last night, an Amazon representative said the new Kindle will be 16 percent lighter (5.7 ounces/161 grams compared with 6.7 ounces/191 grams for the current Kindle) and 11 percent thinner (0.36 inches /9.1 millimeters compared with 0.40 inches/10.2 millimeters). The new Kindle will also be slightly smaller in length (6.3 inches/160 mm versus 6.7 inches/ 169 mm) and width (4.5 inches/115 mm versus 4.7 inches/119 mm).
Amazon said in its release that the new Kindle is available for pre-order around the world “and will start shipping in the coming weeks.”
Export Notes, a significant new software improvement, will be added to the Kindle in a free, over-the-air update “in the coming weeks,” Amazon said. Here is the description of it from the release:
“It’s now easy to export notes and highlights from a book to your e-mail, so you can always have them on-hand for reference. Receive your notes both as an easily printable PDF that’s ready to bring to your book club, and as a simple file you can open in your favorite spreadsheet app.”
Amazon’s rep said Export Notes will also be made available via a wireless software update for the more expensive Kindles—the Paperwhite, Voyage, and Oasis.
Depending on how well it works, Export Notes looks as if it will make fetching and using Kindle highlights and notes much more convenient than the current process of finding them at your kindle.amazon.com page. Because it will be built into the Kindle’s software, Export Notes will probably be more convenient than existing third-party annotation tools such as clippings.io , Bookcision, Snippefy, and Calibre.
See Nate Hoffelder’s useful comparison of the existing annotation-export options here.
Nate points out that the Kindle apps for iOS and Android already offer the option to export your notebook of annotations made in a Kindle book to flashcards or email. The Export Notes software update will apparently give the Kindle, Paperwhite, Voyage, and Oasis an even better export capability. So far, the Fire tablets do not have the ability to export a notebook of annotations.
Amazon in its release also said the new Kindle will offer built-in Bluetooth audio for accessibility using the recently introduced VoiceView screen reader—without needing the Kindle Audio Adapator that is currently required for VoiceView on the Paperwhite.
“This is enabled through a new out-of-box experience specifically for visually impaired customers that allows them to pair their Kindle with Bluetooth headphones or a speaker,” Amazon said in the release.
All in all, this is an impressive update for the entry-level Kindle.
At first glance, it may not seem like a big deal to trim a single ounce from the weight of a Kindle, but to do it and keep the price at $80 has to be considered a significant achievement on the part of Amazon’s Lab126 engineers.
The new Kindle will weigh only an ounce more than the $290 Oasis (not including the Oasis’s charging cover). At 5.7 ounces, the new Kindle sneaks past the Voyage (6.3 ounces for WiFi only) to become the second-lightest Kindle in the lineup. The top-selling Paperwhite will maintain its dubious distinction as the heaviest of the current Kindles, at 7.2 ounces for WiFi only.
Few things come close to the importance of weight in evaluating the ergonomics of an e-reader, in my opinion. Whether it’s at the beach or in bed, I appreciate every ounce trimmed from the weight of an eReader.
It’s also laudable that Amazon today follows up its April introduction of the new Porsche of Kindles, the pricey Oasis, with a major upgrade for the entry-level model.
Or, as the Amazon executive quoted in the press release, Kindle General Manager Arthur van Rest, puts it:
“Tens of millions of readers around the world have Kindle e-readers and today, we’re excited to make our most affordable Kindle even better, while keeping the same breakthrough price point. With a thinner and lighter design, twice the memory, and all the features customers love about Kindle, it has never been a better time to be a reader.”
I know smartphones and tablets continue to grab a bigger share of e-book reading. But I’m still a big fan of the E Ink Kindle family for the peacefulness of book-only screen time.
So Bravo to Amazon for continuing to dance with and invest in the e-reader that brought it to the device business in 2007. Remember that one? It weighed 10.4 ounces, cost $400 and sold out in five and a half hours.
Kinda makes you wonder what’s ahead!
No buttons? Sorry, but I don’t like smudging the screen with my grubby fingers. Give me buttons every time. I like the smell of buttons on my ereader.
Weight matters little. If I’m holding it up with my arm, the weight of my arm will soon tire me. If not, an ounce or so less for an ereader matters not. That’s probably less than what my watch weighs.
This review didn’t mention, but this Kindle has no, repeat no, built-in, back-screen lighting. That means, gasp, you can’t read in the dark. You have to turn on a light. Don’t worry. That’ll also give you a chance to check for monsters under the bed.
Also note that its only 167 dpi to the Paperwhite’s 300 dpi. That’s the same as my Kindle 3, so its not the end of the world, but it does illustrate how Amazon cut corners on this one to keep the price down.
The good news: Glad to see that it includes Bluetooth audio, although an old-fashioned headphone jack like my sainted Kindle 3 has would mean fewer hassles with BT headset batteries. Technology continues to march backwards.
My chief disappointment: Bluetooth is limited to audio. No BT keyboard for note-taking. No BT mouse for page turning. Pitiful. All those would be especially great for those with limited mobility.
My final take: If crazy liberals brand my Kindle 3 an “attack rifle”—not entirely impossible in today’s climate—and succeeded in banning it, then I’d probably get this as a replacement, recognizing that it was a step down because:
* Buttons beat touch screens.
* Headset jacks beat Blutetooth audio.
* Cheap matters. This one is $40 cheaper than the Paperwhite.
* This isn’t an “attack rifle.” If I throw it at a burglar, he’ll just laugh.