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MEGATech Reviews: The New Amazon Kindle (8th Generation)
If you're shopping for a new e-book reader, Kindle will always be the first name to come to mind. But is this newest Kindle the one you actually want?
Pros
  • Still as affordable as ever
  • Bluetooth audio
  • Same great Kindle experience
Cons
  • Cheap plastic build
  • No lighting
  • Other Kindles are way better
6Overall Score

Sometimes, a brand name becomes utterly synonymous with the actual product. Just like Kleenex, Q-tips and Slurpees, the Amazon Kindle has become the name for the product category it represents. If you're in the market for a new e-book reader, there's a good chance you'll be shopping for a Kindle. And now you can pick up the newest addition to the family with the all-new Kindle e-reader for 2016. Now in its 8th generation, the entry-level e-reader boasts a few new features while retaining the same affordable price.

What's New with the 8th-Generation Amazon Kindle?

MEGATech Reviews: The New Amazon Kindle (8th Generation)

The 8th generation Kindle was announced earlier this summer, promoted as "brand new" when not very much has actually changed. The 6-inch e-ink display still lacks a backlight (or front light) and it's still the lower 167 ppi resolution, but it's still a touchscreen. The same Kindle experience carries through the entire lineup. And it's still cheap and cheerful.

As I pointed out in my unboxing and overview video earlier this month, the newest Amazon Kindle is thinner and lighter than before, it comes in white as well as black, and they've doubled the memory for improved performance. The biggest difference is the inclusion of Bluetooth audio, which will appeal to some and be practically useless to others.

For all the book club people, there's Export Notes. This features enables you to export your notes and highlighted portions as a printable PDF, delivered via e-mail. Again, some people might like it and other people could care less.

First Impressions

MEGATech Reviews: The New Amazon Kindle (8th Generation)

After getting spoiled with the much more expensive Kindle Oasis, the new Amazon Kindle feels decidedly cheaper in the hands. The cheap plastic shell pales in comparison even to the only slightly more expensive Kindle Paperwhite. With the latter, the soft touch materials make for a more comfortable reading experience.

That being said, you can invest in the official protective case, as seen in the picture gallery below, for $29.99. It's a little spendy for a protective cover like this, but it does make the Kindle more comfortable to hold. If you're willing to spend an extra thirty bucks on a case, though, you might not be looking at the cheapest Kindle. The cover comes in your choice of black, blue, magenta or white/grey.

MEGATech Reviews: The New Amazon Kindle (8th Generation)

The otherwise Spartan and uninspired design of the 8th-generation Amazon Kindle is typical for being the cheapest offering in its family. I was provided the black version for the purposes of this review, but you can get it in white for a small dash of personality. As before, the only button you'll find is the physical power button and the only port you'll find is the micro-USB port for charging. Everything else is accomplished through the touchscreen.

The Reading Experience

MEGATech Reviews: The New Amazon Kindle (8th Generation)

Build quality issues aside, I had two primary concerns when approaching this new Kindle as compared to the more premium Kindles that I have been reviewing recently. First, this cheaper Kindle comes with the lower resolution 167 ppi display, compared to the 300 ppi display on all the other e-readers in the lineup. Second, this is the only Kindle in the family that does not have any lighting whatsoever for the screen.

Based on my time reading through a couple chapters of Spell Or High Water by Scott Meyer, I've come to a couple of conclusions based on those two primary concerns. First, the lower resolution screen is not as big of a deal as I had anticipated. If all you're doing is reading text, you're probably not going to notice much of a difference. The words may not be quite as crisp, but it's still fine. And even on a higher resolution screen, viewing graphics on e-ink has never been stupendous.

The lack of the built-in light, however, is a real deal breaker for me. I do most of reading in bed just before I go to sleep. I keep a very dim lamp at my bedside and have grown accustomed to the light on the other Kindles. You may or may not need the adaptive light sensor of the Kindle Voyage or the 10 LEDs of the Kindle Oasis for "enhanced page consistency." But you will want to have a built-in light and this Kindle doesn't have that.

MEGATechie New and Improved or MEGATechie Reading in the Dark?

MEGATech Reviews: The New Amazon Kindle (8th Generation)

If you're looking for a purpose-built e-book reader that's about as affordable as it gets, the newest Kindle for 2016 still does what you want a Kindle to do. You can load thousands of books over Wi-Fi and enjoy them for weeks between charging. If you want just a little more, though, you'll also need to spend a little more. I don't need the PagePress of the Voyage or the battery cover of the Oasis, per se, but I do want a higher quality build and a display with a built-in light.

The overall score of 6/10 that I gave this Kindle is much more reflective of how great the other Kindles are than it is of how bad this one might be. It's not that bad; it's just not nearly as good as its stablemates.

The 8th-generation Amazon Kindle is available now for $79.99 in your choice of black or white. If you want to remove the "special offers" from the lock screen, that'll be $20 more. For my money, the Kindle Paperwhite is still the better buy. It's worth the $40 premium over the regular Kindle to get a higher resolution screen with a built-in light. The light really makes a world of difference and the Paperwhite is still the great value to beat.



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