Amazon Kindle 2012 review – intro

Thunder somewhat stolen by the now-flagship Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon's basic Kindle still deserves some attention – it is just £69 after all. With a non-touch E Ink Pearl screen, a lighter build and the same Kindle Store goodies as before – with extra Lending Library treats to tempt you – is this still the Kindle you’re looking for? Or are Amazon’s higher-end tablets like the Fire HD the place to look for an ebook fix?

Amazon Kindle 2012 review – design and build

Grey is gone as the only Kindle colour – as well as the choice of Graphite, you can also choose a new all-black look. And while Team Stuff are divided on which we like best, it's easy to grip back and neat, slightly more compact design fit very nicely in the hand, as ever. It also weighs in at 170g so is 30% lighter than the outgoing basic Kindle model. The page-turn keys work well and because it doesn't have a touchscreen you can rest your thumbs wherever you please – just like a real book. 

Amazon Kindle 2012 review – in use

Easy to set up and quick to charge – via USB 2.0 it won't take longer than 3 hours then you're good to go for a month or so – the Kindle doesn't waste any time. Before you start reading, it's a good idea to turn off the popular highlights and public notes features in settings as both can get rather distracting. 

Page turns are very quick, as are refreshes of the E Ink screen when darting around settings menus and browsing the Kindle Store. When searching for books or entering Wi-Fi passwords though, scrolling through letters does get tedious, and you'll wish you were using a touchscreen. 

Text looks very sharp with good contrast on the 6in 167ppi, 16-level gray scale screen and it's still very easy to read in sunlight. The only problem we encountered was a teensy bit of ghosting where text from a previous page doesn't fully disappear after the page turn. And there’s no denying that the Paperwhite’s display is superior, even taking the built-in light out of the equation.

It’s not really worth bothering with the 'experimental' web browser unless you really have to – having to control the cursor with a small keypad is tricky, and there's no 3G on board. The Kindle doesn’t play well with Enterprise networks, either, although you won’t necessarily need to be connecting to many of those.

Amazon Kindle 2012 review – ebook selection

Amazon's ebook library is frighteningly comprehensive, and now if you sign up to Amazon Prime you also get access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library which lets you borrow one ebook a month for free. There are over 200,000 titles to choose from, but though it includes bestsellers don't expect to type in your next choice and come up trumps with a free read every time.

Buying books is easy once you've logged in with your Amazon payment credentials – it's just One Click but you can cancel your order if you change your mind immediately. 

Amazon Kindle 2012 review – verdict

This basic Kindle is certainly faster, lighter and cheaper than the Kindle Touch, but the real question is whether the £110 Kindle Paperwhite is worth the extra money over this compact, excellent value ereader. In our (e)book it is – the Paperwhite has a touchscreen, a 3G option for £60 extra, a fantastic battery life and, of course, that LED front-light. If you're just looking for a cheap all-round ereader though, the Kindle 2012 won't disappoint. 

Stuff says... 

Amazon Kindle 2012 review

It’s not the very best ereader available, but it is the very best for under £100