Amazon Kindle 2011 unboxing

Amazon's cheap-as-chips new Kindle has arrived – but is it worth losing the keyboard and 3G? 

 

We may still be waiting for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch to arrive in the UK, but Amazon has thrown us a bone in the form of the new £89 Kindle. 

Amazon has stripped back the features in the name of keeping costs down – the keyboard has gone, as has the 3G connectivity – but it has resulted in a Kindle that truly is pocket-sized.

Next to the new Kindle, last year's model - renamed the Kindle Keyboard - is left looking rather clunky. The graphite plastic has been replaced with a slick-looking matt silver finish. Despite the 2011 model's pared-back features list, Amazon has tweaked the 6in screen – the same size as the Kindle Keyboard – and page turns are appreciably quicker.

In the hand, the Kindle's 170 grams are barely noticeable. Losing the keyboard means that you hold it slightly differently – your reviewer always held the Kindle Keyboard at the bottom to avoid jogging the shoulder buttons. Amazon has clearly noticed this was an issue, and the page forward and back buttons have shuffled further back on the new Kindle.

On the bottom, there's the familiar micro-USB port and a lock button, replacing the earlier Kindle's slider.    

We like the Kindle's reduced weight and smaller size – you can finally slip it in your coat pocket without being weighed down. But the loss of 3G connectivity is more of an issue.

Losing the ability to download books anywhere is a pain, but not a deal-breaker – you wouldn't want to type 'History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' into the Kindle Store using the D-pad, in any case. But finding that your Kindle hasn't synced up when you take it out of your bag on the train could quickly become irritating.

On the whole, though, the 2011 Kindle is a great ebook reader at a bargain-basement price. Now, can we have the Kindle Fire, please?

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