Review: new $79 Kindle

Review: new $79 Kindle

7th generation entry level Kindle: “Mindle Touch” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’ve had the opportunity to do a hands-on exploration of the new Kindle.

Let me start out by saying that this is a considerable improvement over the former $69 Kindle, thanks both to the touch screen and the quality of the display.

If what you want is an inexpensive device for reading, this will work well.

In fact, comparing the same text of the same edition of the same book with the  same settings (font size 4, Caecillia) with the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite 2 (with the light turned all the way down), the KP7 (on the top) is easier to read:


The background seems lighter and the text seems thicker…that seems odd, because there are more PPI (Pixels Per Inch) on the Paperwhite…they are doing something different to optimize the appearance.

The device itself feels light, which is a goal for people. Irrationally, it also makes it feel a bit cheap…it definitely feels like plastic.

Another “feel” issue is that it is a tiny bit wider than the previous version, which would take a bit of getting used to, although it is only slightly wider (2mm…a tenth of an inch) and slightly thicker than the Paperwhite.

I think, though, it may feel wider than the Paperwhite in part because of the clear bevel of the edges:


The KP7 is on your left, the Paperwhite on your right. The PW slopes away smoothly. The K7 has a perpendicular edge, and then it slopes. That’s kind of geeky, I know, but the bottom line is that where you are holding it is thicker. It’s not enough for me to be a problem, but I would say it is slightly less comfortable.

Other external differences with the Paperwhite include

  • The word Kindle on the front of the device is not in silver. Some people actually found the silver distracting when they were reading, so I would say that’s going to be an improvement
  • On the back of the new device, it says “Amazon” rather than “Kindle”

What about the software?

It looks very similar to the Paperwhite. The menu on the homescreen has the same choices.

When you tap the Settings choice, they’ve consolidated the Device Time choice into “Personalize your Kindle”…which makes sense (it didn’t need its own menu choice).

Within a book, they’ve changed the order of the menu…but the choices are the same.

“Long press” a word in the book, and again, the choices are essentially the same.

The choices in the store were a bit different. Tapping the menu there, the K7 doesn’t have a Kindle Unlimited choice (although it’s on the screen), and does have “Recommended for You”, which the Paperwhite doesn’t have.

Overall, it’s very much like the Paperwhite 2 in terms of software.

I’ve liked my PW2 very much, and I think people would like this also.

So, the question seems obvious: why pay $40 more for the

Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*)


The answer is equally obvious: the light.

The built-in light on the Paperwhite is a wonderful thing. It gives me the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had, including paper.

However, you may just want to have a guest Kindle, or a “spare”, or something more inexpensive for a young reader. Maybe you are working or going somewhere where you will the risk of loss, theft, or damage is high…and you’d rather bring one that’s easier to replace.

As has been the case with recent non-Fire Kindles, and is the case with all of the non-Fire Kindles being sold new by Amazon, including the top of the line

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the K7 does not have sound: no audiobooks, no music, and no text-to-speech. Personally, I’d like to see that as a choice: TTS is a big part of my life (I listen to it typically for hours a week in the car), and I’d be fine with it being done without onboard speakers (just a headphone jack, so I can plug it into the car’s sound system, or listen with headphones at home).

Bottom line: the K7 is a fine basic reader, $40 less than the Kindle Paperwhite 2, and an improvement over the previous “entry level” model. It has up-to-date features in the software. Some people will want to pay more for the light, and others will choose to pay $120 more for the top of the line Voyage.

If you have any specific questions about the device, feel free to ask by commenting on this post. I will probably have it for a few more days, while I document a bit more about it.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


20 Responses to “Review: new $79 Kindle”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Is there a virtual keyboard so that you can still make notes and comments within the book? Is it possible to play the games available for Kindles on devices without 5 way controllers and/or keyboards?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Yes, there is a keyboard…and you can type on it by tapping the letters.

      As far as the games, different ones are available for different devices. As you can imagine, you can’t use the same software for most games and have them work both on touchscreens and on 5-ways. However, it can happen that you bought it for one interface, and they made it available for the other one. I just checked several of the active content games and wasn’t seeing ones yet that were compatible with the K7, but I think that will happen.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I have a subscription to your blog, and if I’m between books, I’ll check the latest blog posts on my PW2 home page. Mostly I’m not between books so I also get an email from WordPress, if you’ve done a new post, which I get at midnight each day (puts the cap on the day :grin). Lately, I’ve been using Twitter a bit, and I see you post a notification there as well — which is where I’m coming from to read this post (a third way to get ILMK :-))

    A question: does this low end kindle support collections? I know you said the S/W is the same as the PW2 … ?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes, it was nice to have my Cloud Collections all set up and available for me! 🙂

      The Twitter thing happens automatically…that’s how ILMK gets into Flipboard for me.

  3. hsextant Says:

    Somehow I have the feeling that if this was my first Kindle, I would be perfectly happy with it (other than no audio…which BTW I agree with you, just give us the headphone jack, leave out the speakers). I have probably been spoiled with the internal light in the Paperwhite but I was very satisfied with my Kindle 2 with an external light.

    Interesting notion of having a guest Kindle. I wonder could you place several books that you wanted to lend to friends in a guest kindle, then de-register it and the books still be resident? I loved lending books to friends but I am not all that keen on lending out my account info or total access to my library.

    If one were to continually register / de-register a Kindle would Amazon object? My Kindle 2 is still functional and it may be a suitable guest Kindle (other than the fact that I still love it and if some S. O. B. dropped it or left it on the table in a Starbucks, I would be furious). Hmmmmm. Forget it, I am not interested in a guest Kindle after all.

    Nice review!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hxextant!

      While I love having my long-time readers and commenters around, it’s refreshing to have a new intelligent and respectful voice that isn’t as familiar with the subject!

      First, on the guest Kindle: it isn’t necessary to deregister it. You can set it up in such a way (that’s what I do with ours) that they can’t download more to it, and they don’t see your account info.

      See this post:

      A Kindle for the Guest Room

      It depends on the Kindle as to whether or not books will stay on it when you deregister it…Kindle store books, at any rate.

      Amazon does not object to what I call the R/DD (Register/Deregister Dance). We’ll see what happens when they introduce the “Family Library” (which I expect to be before the end of the year)…that will let you share books with people not on your account, but we don’t know what the parameters are yet. The one limitation is that you can’t use your account for commercial purposes…so you couldn’t charge people to get the books from your account.

      We bought a Kindle specifically to be a guest Kindle…so we wouldn’t have the concern you express. I would do the same thing with p-books (paperbooks). I used to buy multiple used paperbacks of books I really wanted to be able to lend to people. That way, I had my copy, and if I didn’t get one back, oh well. 🙂

    • marosg Says:

      I am in similar camp. I previously used Mindle but since I upgraded to Paperwhite v1 I would not go with a Kindle without a light, it is just so convenient to have it built-in. I am looking at Voyage, those “buttons” to turn pages are what I miss on PW vs Mindle, but $200 seems too much.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, marosg!

        For me, buttons wouldn’t be worth that much, but I’m hoping to get a Voyage to test…maybe I’ll love the new border press functionality.

        While I’ve linked to an article that pointed out the drop in rankings for the Voyage, I think the writer missed that it is essentially out of stock…and they are limiting people to two of them (on at least one configuration of the device). That likely dropped the sales, not a fall off in desire.

  4. Tom Semple Says:

    The reason for the lighter background and more saturated text is that the K7 does not have additional layers for the front light distribution and capacitative touchscreen.Thin as those layers may be, I’ve always felt it takes away some clarity.

    It would be interesting if there were a device option that had the higher resolution screen without the front light. Without such an option, it is not possible to discover exactly what we’re missing. The front light offers convenience and flexibility to adjust to various lighting conditions, but any environment which is ideal for reading a book is idea for reading on a Kindle, with or without a front light.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yes, I think your last point is important. For $40 less, you get a Kindle which has the same lighting requirements as a p-book (paperbook)…and people seem to have managed to read those okay over the years. 😉

      In terms of the “capacitative touchscreen”, do you know the technical difference between the Paperwhite and the Mindle Touch touchscreens? The latter seems equally responsive to me.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        Mindle has an IR touchscreen, like the Kindle Touch. Infrared beams crisscross just in front the screen, no layer required (conferring better display clarity and perhaps durability), anything that breaks the beams optically will trigger a response, including stylus made of any material, gloved hands etc.

        With Paperwhite/Voyage (and nearly all tablets these days) you need to touch with something ‘capacitative’ (something that conducts electricity enough to disrupt an electrostatic field), such as a fingertip, or stylus designed for the purpose. It requires a layer

        They’re roughly equivalent in terms of responsiveness, but if you have cold or dry fingertips, capacitative doesn’t work so well (another test for vampires). On the other hand IR can be a little too sensitive, as you don’t actually need to touch the screen (hovering close is enough), or may pick up some dust particles or crumbs that need to be cleared away.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Excellent explanation! I did have a couple of times when it seemed to think I had tapped something when I hadn’t…might have been due to what you are saying.

  5. hsextant Says:

    Thanks for the info and the link to your Kindle For the Guestroom post. I may consider buying a guest Kindle after the smoke clears with the family library. If they put this model on sale or perhaps buying a refurb unit, this may be a very good solution to my desire to lend books. I just can’t cotton to the idea of lending out my old Kindle 2. Even though it is on its deathbed, it is like an old friend to me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hsextant!

      Oh, I understand…I have a Kindle 1, still, although I haven’t tried it in a while.

      We bought a KPW2 for the guest Kindle, but it was on one of those super limited time offer deals on the Kindle Fire…I think we paid $15 for it. 🙂

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  10. Paul Sandham Says:

    Thank you for these reviews. Might I ask a question? I have a first generation Fire HD. it’s wifi stability has never been great – requiring toggling on and off to re-establish connection. I know this is something you commented on in the early days. It seems to have got worse however, it is now almost 4 years old. My question is as to whether newer versions of the Fire are better from this perspective? Is is worth me buying the entry level Fire which would probably meet my needs? I guess that’s two questions. Any comments gratefully received.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Paul!

      Yes, I definitely think the later generations of the Fire are generally better. Be aware that the current entry level, though, won’t have as sharp an image as your HD. You could get it and try it…you’ll have a trial period.

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