All-New Kindle (8th Generation, 2016) Hand-on Review: Great Value at $79

Tiansui Bao

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I am writing this from the perspective of being a long-time experienced Kindle user vs. someone brand new. From an overall perspective, considering the pricing of the Kindle with Special Offers at $79 vs. higher amounts for the different flavors of Kindle available today, this one is a bargain. If you have wanted to get your kids a Kindle to encourage reading as well as sharing of books but hesitated because $119 to $289+ is a lot of money to risk with a child, maybe at $79 this is your price point.

From a size standpoint, the reading screen is the exact same size as the other e-Ink Kindles. It is slightly thinner and lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite, but to me it's not really a noticeable difference when you're holding it in a protective cover.

There are no page buttons - no buttons at all except for the power button - and turning the page is as easy as tapping the side of the screen with your thumb while you're reading, or swiping the screen with your finger.

Reading is easy on this one: in comparison to my previous version of the same model the letters on the screen are much, much darker and easier to read and the display is crisp. Looking at the display side-by-side in the same location of an eBook against the prior version of Kindle mentioned above, the text on this Kindle is much darker and reads a lot better. Compared to a Paperwhite it is not as dark but those results are to be expected since the Paperwhite has 80%4+ more pixels per inch, but at this price point that's not too big of a concern for me as each new version of the Kindle gets better and better with the fonts and screen display and this one is pretty darn good - you want to be able to read what you're supposed to, right?

If you like the text-to-speech feature of previous Kindle models or listened to music with your Kindle Keyboard as an example, please be aware there are no speakers nor is there a plug for headphones.

In comparison to the previous version of Kindle this one is replacing, other than the crisper text / fonts from the improved screen display, as far as I can tell this new version of Kindle has the same technical specifications of the previous Kindle: about the same size, same internal memory. If you had a precious version of the Kindle this version is replacing, that means you can use the same cover as the previous version.

Battery life is supposed to last “. weeks on a single charge" but I doubt it: I charged it up 100% late yesterday afternoon and, 18 hours later, the battery meter is indicating about 75% left. This was after reading for a couple of hours with the Wi-Fi left on but the Kindle not being used overnight as I left it in sleep mode. Time will tell if this is going to be a problem or not.

It did take a few minutes to get this model up and running as you first need to connect it to a WiFi connection (this model does not have 3G capability) in addition to the normal making sure it is registered and going through a mandatory tutorial on which areas of the screen to tap to perform various functions. There is a lot of Amazon marketing you have to weed through: do you want to sign up for Goodreads (an Amazon affiliate), would you like to sign up for Kindle Unlimited (for a monthly recurring revenue stream to Amazon), would you like to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so your're friends / family / perfect strangers can be voyeuristic on what you are reading (absolutely not for me). You can also sign up for parental controls with this version which I think is a great idea - sometimes you don't want your children to read what you are reading.

Once you have gone through the registration process, if you have previously identified your books into collections this Kindle will perform an automatic import of the various categories / collections you have linked to your Amazon account and links to the books in the Cloud that you can immediately download in the same category on the new Kindle. If you're replacing an older Kindle with this one that could be handy, but if you have other people on your account / family in households with more than one Kindle, that can be a pain in the neck because, for example, my wife and children generally have different tastes in books - I don't want her books cluttering up my Kindle's screen and she feels the same way about mine. IT's not a deal killer, but it does make you wade through a lot of stuff. One note of caution – if you do a large download of your books from the Cloud to this new Kindle an indexing process will occur. That will chew up the battery as the Kindle indexes words / phrases in each title imported so you can search for it later. I haven’t downloaded all of my titles yet, but will do it right before I go to bed one night – with the Kindle connected to a charger so the battery won’t drain down real fast.

Opening up the box, included with the Kindle is a micro-USB cord but no power adapter. Also, if you like reading at night you will need a separate light or be reading in a well-lit room as there is not a built-in backlight like the Kindle Paperwhite.

Despite some of my nits above, as a parent whose children can be hard on electronics I like this version, and think with this $79 price point it will help to continue to explode the eBook revolution even faster as they get in more people's hands. If you have not purchased a Kindle before due to price, need a cheaper replacement than the other versions, or maybe a relative or a friend has hesitated to get one this one is in your price zone, I would recommend this one!

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