New Kindle Getting Mixed Reviews on Screen Quality

Kindle_00F_USWhenever a new ereader is released everyone wants to know how the screen compares to screens on competing models. Sometimes, as in the case of the 2013 Kindle paperwhite or the Aura H2O, it's obvious that the new model is better than the old. But then there are times where it's not so obvious that the new screen is better. For example, the new Kindle which shipped yesterday is drawing mixed reports from users. Some are saying that the screen is as good as on the device it replaced, while others are reporting a noticeably poorer screen.

It's too early to say with any certainty whether the poor reports reflect unique screens or the average production quality, but they could be enough to give a potential buyer pause.

For example, in the comment section of my first impressions post yesterday I noted that:

I can’t explain why the screen is worse. To be completely honest I think the new Kindle has a poorer screen than my 2012 KPW (a pearl to Pearl comparison). The newer device is noticeably browner than the older unit.

Another early adopter left a similar comment:

I was expecting a kindle touch that is more responsive, which yes this is it. But the screen is awful. While the pearl screen on the previous kindle basic was fantastic, this one has inferior contrast. Under strong light, the previous kindle looks like it has a white background. Not true of this one.

Another new owner commented on MobileRead:

The screen comparison is correct, the new basic has an inferior screen. The contrast is significantly lower than the K4 black. I received mine today. Disappointed with the screen.

A different MobileRead Forum member dropped by a BB and checked out the demo units:

The screen background is the same "whiteness." The fonts on the New Kindle Basic are lighter and have less contrast. These pictures don't show it too well, but my daughter was with me and there was a noticeable difference. The New Basic Kindle comes somewhere between the Kindle Touch and Old Basic Kindle (K4BNT). Not horrible, but the fonts are not as sharp and dark on the NKT as they are on the K4BNT.

At this point you might think that it's time to take the new Kindle out back and shoot it, but not everyone is complaining about the new screen.

Len Edgerly posted a video yesterday. He doesn't report that the new screen is worse than the screen on the Kindle which was replaced, though he also doesn't report that it is any better.

And then there's the report from my competitor. he posted several photos which show the older Kindle Touch, a Paperwhite, the new Kindle, and the recently retired basic Kindle.  He says that he can't see any difference. Can you?


I can't see the difference in his photos, but I can see a difference between the Kindles on my desk. That is why I agree with haydnfan over at MobileRead when he said "Take no photo even this one as evidence one way or the other. You have to see for yourself. All of these photos are effectively lies."

So did you get the new Kindle? How do you think it compares?

About Nate Hoffelder (11464 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on New Kindle Getting Mixed Reviews on Screen Quality

  1. The only kindle that’s shipped to my knowledge is the BASIC kindle ($79). Of course it’s not improved!
    The Voyage (shipping Oct 21) is advertised as having a 300dpi screen as opposed to the paperwhite’s 212. Compare THAT screen.

    • Actually, compared to the old Kindle Touch the new kindle is faster. So it at least has that.

    • The entire article is about contrast not resolution. Your drive by post reads like you didn’t read and consider the article.

      Thanks Nate. With mixed reviews, I’m wondering if it’s just a screen lottery. I think I might see if amazon will exchange it for me to get a better screen.

  2. I should fess up that I am haydnfan on mobilereads (because my favorite composer is Franz Joseph Haydn). So I’m being represented twice. No intention of being dishonest, haydnfan is my handle on the net, I just never used that handle on this site for some reason.

  3. I got the new budget Kindle and really like it (I just needed an adequate Kindle to read my Amazon books on it). The screen is OK and if you compare it to a Kindle Paperwhite to this device or a Nook Simple Touch (I owned a Kindle Paperwhite), there is only a slight difference in sharpness and darkness and don’t think it warrants spending a premium for the Paperwhite (in the UK, the price difference is £50). To put it another way, if you don’t need the front light (the front light is nice but really just a bonus for me), then it makes sense to get this one. Also, you get the latest firmware, which is great, and the same speed and performance of a Kindle Paperwhite. Overall, for the price, it’s a great buy and recommend it. As for the build quality, then it is solid but definitely a step-backwards in terms of the overall feel and aesthetic of the device (it’s a functional plastic slab!).

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