Amazon has unveiled a new version of its entry-level Kindle, which is the first update to the company's most affordable e-reader in two years.
Amazon recently introduced the Kindle Oasis, which is the next-generation e-reader of the retail giant. Featuring narrower bezels, a small form factor, battery life that can last up to two months and all the features that made the Paperwhite and Voyage models of the Kindle great, the device is considered as the best e-reader in the market.
The Kindle Oasis, however, comes with a steep price tag of over $300 across its variants. Amazon seemingly has now shifted its focus on the other end of the spectrum with the updated entry-level Kindle.
The new e-reader, which is known simply as Kindle, is thinner by 11 percent and lighter by 16 percent compared to the previous iteration of the device. The new Kindle also features double the RAM at 512 MB, which will lead to an overall improved experience on the e-reader.
The new Kindle will also come in color options of black and white, and will feature a more rounded design for a more comfortable grip, which is seemingly inspired by the Kindle Oasis. The e-reader uses the same e-ink screen as its predecessor, and does not come with a built-in reading light like the Kindle Oasis and the $120 Kindle Paperwhite.
The battery of the Kindle will allow users to enjoy the device for up to several weeks, though that figure is based only on 30 minutes to 45 minutes of reading per day. More voracious readers will not be able to reach weeks between charges, but that does not take away from the device's great battery life.
One new reading feature that can be seen in the new Kindle is the ability to export highlights and notes that are made on an e-book through email, which will allow users to read through them even when their Kindle is not around. The highlights and notes can also be exported as spreadsheets or PDFs.
There is also Chinese support for Word Wise, which is a feature that allows users to access the definitions of words as they read them. The Kindle's home screen can also be customized, with a new user interface that will allow readers to view recommendations and manage reading lists.
One of the more important features that are making its return in the new Kindle is support for Bluetooth audio, which provides accessibility to blind readers. Earlier models of Kindle had audio features with text-to-speech functionality, but the last Kindle to have this feature was the 2011 Kindle Touch.
Through the new Kindle's Bluetooth feature, blind readers can pair an audio device such as a speaker or headphones to the e-reader. The audio device will then work hand in hand with the VoiceView software for text-to-speech functionality.
The new Kindle has not yet undergone evaluation from the National Federation of the Blind, but the association's director of communications Chris Danielsen said the NFB regularly meets with Amazon for the improvement of accessibility in e-book readers, particularly for educational purposes.
Interested customers can now send in their preorders for the new Kindle, which is being sold for only $80 with advertisements and $100 without them. The device will begin shipping on July 7.