It took me a while to be convinced of the merits of this device, but as I needed to take reading matter on a 4 night trip into the wilds, it was the ideal time to give a Kindle Touch a try out.
The reading experience is as expected, brilliant. Words are crisp, even in bright daylight, something that tablets and mobiles don’t get close. Reading on the e-ink display is similar to print, and even the transition from one page to another gives the impression that the ink on the page is rearranging itself into new words. The touch feature is something that ‘traditionalists’ among Kindle owners might not like, but I’m so used to touch enabled devices that I just get momentarily confused when a device isn’t touch screen. This gets some funny looks when you’re desperately jabbing at a laptop screen, expecting it to respond. It’s surprising that some users are complaining that as a touch device it has no navigation buttons, while I see their point, I think that it gives the device a clean and simple look.
Downloading content is easy, and you can store up to 3,000 books on the device, but it’s not easy to actually find stuff in the Kindle shop unless you know the title. It’s easier to browse via the Amazon website in order to stumble across new books. Once you pay for your books, a simple matter of selecting a few buttons, the books is sent direct to your device via ‘Whispernet’. If you’ve got the 3G version, you can do this anywhere you can get a signal, at no extra cost other than the initial price premium. However, I plumped for the Wifi only version as there’s usually wifi available. On the rare occasions there isn’t and I urgently need to download a book, I can create my own hotspot via my mobile.
The Kindle Touch also boasts a long battery life – surviving a journey to Scotland, a four night wild camp, three more nights and the return journey without losing much battery life. I then managed to read half of Lord of the Rings before needing a recharge, the Kindle’s battery was also flat by that time. That kind of battery life is simply impressive, but you do need to keep the wi-fi off when not needed to get the most from it.
There’s also a web browser, that may not compare to a full colour browser but if you’ve only got the kindle to hand it serves perfectly well in order to read the latest news and so on. It’s major flaw is that it renders the background, so Mud and Routes doesn’t work particularly well. , there’s a text to speech facility that’s useful for listening in the tent late at night if it weren’t for the limited choice in voices, but still a very useful feature for those who have visual impairments. Finally, there’s an MP3 player built in which gives the Kindle yet another use on a backpacking trip. The only issue with that is that there’s only 4GB of storage on the device, which is more than sufficient to add a few tracks but nothing too serious. It also reduces the space for storing books, and will significantly reduce battery life.
On my recent trip to Scotland, the primarily reason for purchasing this device, It had to keep me occupied during a total of 24 hours train time and during the trip itself. Equipped with a couple of classics that I really ought to read (and did!) some easy reading, a trail running book that I failed to finish via Kindle for Android and the superb reference tome; Scotland by Chris Townsend. It’s also much lighter than a paperback book, weighing in at a paltry 213g. I also took the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and along with the other books they would have weighed more than my backpacking kit in paper form.
I don’t see the Kindle becoming a replacement for what I’ll still call ‘proper’ books, even if that’s a little disparaging towards this device. For me, this is more like when the Walk-man was released and people could listen to their music on the move. They didn’t chuck their hi-fi systems out then and I don’t see myself throwing my library out at any point soon, if ever. The main difference is that you have to buy the book either as a soul-less digital downoad or traditional paper book. I’d like to see Amazon bringing in some sort of discount scheme whereas if you’ve bought the paper book via them that they can offer you the digital downoad for a couple of quid. I’m unlikely to buy a book on kindle that I’d like a paper copy of, and so it’ll get clogged with the usual holiday pulpy novels rather than the real quality books, which is a shame. The only exception to that is that classic novels are inexpensive, which may cause some sort of renaissance in this area, though I’ll still try and hunt out a Penguin Classic in a second hand bookstore of any I do read!
Overall, I have to award the Kindle Touch a high mark, though that does not mean it’s a replacement for paper. It compliments them, if you’re travelling and especially so if you’re backpacking and going light. Certainly lighter than a paperback, takes up less room and you can even send PDF files onto it. This was perfect for storing our trip itinerary, including my hotel booking emails which I could then use on arrival (though paper copies were also carried just in case!) I didn’t have to carry any paper on the trip, and my train times and hotel details were all safely to hand.
How convinced am I? This will now become an essential wild camping item, but the only problem being that I’ll still read the bulk of my books on paper and will need to ensure I’ve a digital book at those times. Not only that, but I think it’s the ideal medium for taking guidebooks along on trips, so expect a Walk up Snowdon enhanced kindle ebook in the near future, with a preview on the images below!
What the Manufacturer Says:
- Most-advanced E Ink display, now with multi-touch
- Reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight
- Built in Wi-Fi – get books in 60 seconds
- Sleek design – Only 213 grams, holds up to 3,000 books
- EasyReach touch technology lets you read easily with one hand
- New X-Ray feature lets you look up characters, historical figures, and interesting phrases
- Text-to-speech, audiobooks and mp3 support
- Up to two month battery life