Which Kindle should I buy?
Amazon's Kindle is the big name in ebook readers. But how do you choose between the several Kindle models available? And is the most expensive Kindle the best? Let our expert, independent advice lift the fog.
All of Amazon's Kindle ebook readers and tablets can be used to read ebooks, and most can be used to browse the web. But beyond that, there's a world of difference between the devices, from screen sizes and internal storage to price point. The Kindle range starts at £60 for the basic model, going up to £230 for the Kindle Oasis.
Read on to learn about the key differences between each of the main Kindle releases and find the right one for you.
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About Kindle ebook readers
Kindle ebook readers use e-ink screens designed to closely imitate the look of printed text in a paperback.
E-ink requires very little battery power to display text, which means that the average battery life of an ebook reader is much longer than a tablet. Some ebook readers can run for weeks at a time without a charge, although using the built-in light available on the Oasis and Paperwhite models will reduce this somewhat.
Kindles, and all other E Ink-based devices, are limited to greyscale, meaning they'll only display white and various shades of grey. Obviously this means that illustrations won’t display in colour – and nor will websites. E-ink screens don’t support video playback, either because they refresh too slowly.
Kindles can only open ebooks in Amazon's exclusive AZW format. This means only books bought from Amazon can be read on a Kindle. Other ebook readers, such as those made by Kobo, can open Epub files, which is an open standard and can be used for buying books from third-party stores as well as 'borrowing' titles from your local library using Overdrive.
Do I need a 4G Kindle?
The Paperwhite and Oasis models are are available in two different versions: a wi-fi-only model or a variation with access to wi-fi and 4G internet. The latter is usually around £60 more expensive, but prices vary.
Grabbing an ebook reader with 4G access will allow you to download books wherever you are, and there’s no additional monthly cost as Amazon pays for its own 4G connection. 4G connectivity is only truly worth it if you know you'll buy lots of books when you’re on the move, or if you don't have wi-fi in your home.
Can I listen to music or audio on a Kindle?
Yes, both the Paperwhite and Oasis support audiobooks from Audible. If you switch from reading to listening, your progress will be synchronised so you can seamlessly carry on from where you left off. However, both devices only support Bluetooth headphones; there's no headphone jack on either device. Both devices also support text-to-speech if no audiobook is available.
Can I just get an app for my phone or tablet instead?
With smartphones and tablets becoming ever more popular, and most offering a variety of ebook reader apps, you might be tempted to opt for an ebook app rather than forking out for a separate device.
Though tablets and smartphones aren't as comfortable to use for long periods of time as an ebook reader (they're heavier and have glaring LED screens), they should still be fine for shorter stints. Both Amazon and Kobo smartphone apps so you can access your library from any device. Google Play and Apple iBooks also offer their own book stores, adding yet more choice for reading on your phone.
What about Amazon Fire tablets?
Kindle Fire tablets use full-colour, high-resolution LCD touchscreens. This means you can watch videos, play games, send emails and browse websites exactly as you would on an iOS-powered iPad or Android tablet. The downside is that LCD screens aren’t as comfortable to use for reading as an ebook reader’s e-ink display, especially for longer periods. Reading on a sunny day might be particularly difficult because of on-screen glare.
Battery life can be another issue, with tablets requiring a recharge long before ebook readers. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off, with Kindle Fire tablets offering many more functions, but being slightly harder to read from.