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Kindle (2019) Has a Frontlight, Costs $89, and is a Terrible Value

Amazon launched their newest Kindle today, and it looks like this is going to be their biggest mistake since the Kindle Voyage.

The new Kindle gains a frontlight (at long last) but that is just about the only improvement. It’s still stuck with the same 167 ppi screen, still has 4GB storage, and it’s still the only Kindle model that isn’t waterproof.

And oh yeah, it costs $89, ten dollars more than the model it replaces.

At this price folks the Kindle costs only $10 less than the sale price for the Kindle Paperwhite. (In fact, the Paperwhite, which is waterproof and has a 300 ppi screen even hit $89 at one point in January.)

There is little to recommend the new Kindle over the Paperwhite,  but if you want one it is up for pre-order now. It’s scheduled to ship on 10 April (assuming Amazon doesn’t come to their senses and cancel it).


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tired March 20, 2019 um 10:25 am

Most people only care about the light and not the resolution. Many people also disliked the glossy screen on the new Paperwhite, and they dislike the low contrast.

A basic with a frontlight if priced at $80 or less would completely cannibalize the lackluster sales of the new Paperwhite.

It has to be priced only slightly less than the Paperwhite or they will kill the Paperwhite lineup.

If you look back at those negative reviews for the Paperwhite 4 I think you will see that there is a definitely a market for this device even at a $90 price point.

And if you really like resolution matters– then why does an 800×600 ereader still sell well in 2019? The basic has never been discontinued.

The periodic sales that you mention are irrelevant because the new basic will probably regularly go on sale for $50-60 as well. It is not a fair comparison because if you can wait for a sell to buy a Kindle you can wait to get the absolute cheapest price on the basic.

snogglethorpe May 1, 2019 um 2:21 pm

Is there any objective measure of contrast used for ereaders / eink…?

It’s always very hard to tell from reviews exactly how the screen _actually_ looks, and photos are often quite misleading.

MD March 20, 2019 um 4:06 pm

I bought the new Paperwhite 4 and I’m sorry I did. Hate the plastic screen, it’s a complete filthy fingerprinted mess within seconds of cleaning it. The other features are of no interest to me personally.

I’ve been using the inverted black background for a few months and now the pages have started flashing back to white every 4th or 5th swipe.
Battery life is poor, no matter if wifi is on or off.

Also I ordered with the understanding I would get 6 months of Kindle Unlimited, nope Amazon screwed me and 4 other people I know. It’s been a trade down not up for sure. Just glad I still have my Voyage!

Tom S March 21, 2019 um 12:30 am

@MD, it will flash whenever there is some sort of image on the page, and will flash again when going back to text-only page. This happens with ‘non inverted’ Display as well, but one gets used to it.

The KU deal was a limited offer for a few weeks following launch, not a permanent ‘feature’. It got me to pre-order a Kindle for the first time in years.

I have a Voyage as well, but PW4 is my every day Kindle now. I wanted something with more storage, wireless audio capability, and the Invert feature, which I do use. I find it more pleasant to hold and carry around. The display is not as good, but I have not felt any compulsion to go back to using the Voyage regularly. My foolish hope is that they will add Immersion Reading and text-to-speech, though chances seem low.

That said, I have always found the front light detracts somewhat from clarity of text (though less with Voyage/Oasis than the others). Did they finally update from Pearl? If not it seems a step back.

tired March 23, 2019 um 10:14 am

That is what I hate about the screen as well. Several times I’ve cleaned the screen only too stupidly see something, wipe it off, leaving a large smear across it RIGHT AFTER I CLEANED IT. It drives me nuts.

"Did they finally update from Pearl?" lol yes six years ago. If you mean on the basic yes, the new basic uses a Carta screen. The bump in contrast is insignificant however between Pearl and Carta. The only valuable thing in my mind with Carta is handling partial refreshes much better.

Suz March 20, 2019 um 6:30 pm

I also had the Paperwhite 4 and hated it. I gave it to my niece and reverted to using the Paperwhite 3 my father had before he passed away last year. That device had been sat and stepped on and is still working fine with a much clearer screen than the PW4. I was really hoping Amazon would release a larger basic device – I would have been happy with no light as long as it was 8 inches or even the 9.7 size of the DX. To a point Amazon is no different than Barnes and Noble who is very notable for doing the total opposite of what their customers ask for. I am glad I have switched mainly to Kobo – I love the Forma over-the Oasis and the Clara over the Paperwhite. For Nook books I have been using my iPad.

Disgusting Dude March 21, 2019 um 10:41 am

It will sell by the ton every time it goes on sale at $59.
Let’s not pretend there won’t be sales every other week.

Frank March 21, 2019 um 5:18 pm

Options are good and it may increase the sales of the Paperwhite 4 since it is only a little bit more cost for many more features.

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