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Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

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Offline Lou Reading Ryria Series by Michael J Sullivan
17 Nov 2011, 04:39 PM | Post: #1


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Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

Model Tested: Kindle Touch 3G (without adverts) from Amazon.com

Getting hold of the Kindle Touch

As you are already aware, at the time of this review the Kindle Touch has not been officially released in the UK. The Kindle Touch can be ordered from Amazon.com, but Amazon will only ship the Kindle to a US address. This means that unless you have relatives in the US, you will need to use a 3rd party intermediary.

In order to have my Kindle Touch 3G shipped to the UK I used Bundlebox and the whole process was very simple indeed. This is the first time I have used Bundlebox as the service was excellent, making the shipping to the UK a piece of cake.

I won't go into detail about the shipping as all the information is available in detail here: http://www.kuforum.co.uk...

Does the US Kindle Touch work properly in the UK? Yes, everything works fine barring one slight thing. See here for a detailed report.


Once the Kindle arrived I was slightly nervous as the packaging had picked up a deep gouge in the front.

[Image: ktreview1-20111117-140601.jpg]

Inside however there was no visible damage and the hole had not penetrated the packaging completely. Phew.

[Image: ktreview2-20111117-141056.jpg]

The packaging is essentially the same as the Kindle 4 with only the Kindle and the USB cable included. The Kindle has a clear plastic wrap covering the screen to prevent damage. The battery was already charged to around 50% straight from the box.

[Image: ktreview3-20111117-141408.jpg]

The first thing that shows when you power up the Kindle Touch is the User Guide.

Physical Aspects

The Kindle Touch looks very much like the Kindle 4 with the exception of just one large ridged home button and a headphone port at the bottom for listening to audiobooks and MP3 files. The screen is set in a slightly deeper recess that the Kindle 4 which is necessary for the touch screen sensor to work.

The Kindle Touch is approximately 8mm larger in both width and length than the Kindle 4. There are some covers around that claim to fit both the Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch, but unless the cover has been designed to be this way, I would be concerned about trying to squeeze a Kindle Touch into a Kindle 4 case. As far as the official Amazon cases go, you definitely couldn't interchange these. Any difference in thickness is negligible.

Weight wise, the Kindle Touch is noticeably heavier. It's still very light though and not as heavy as a Kindle Keyboard.


Registering your Kindle is very simple, just enter your Amazon account details (UK or US) into the device. When registering, this will most likely be your first experience of the new on-screen touch keyboard.

The device registered perfectly to a .co.uk account with no problems at all. Once registered your archive becomes available and the welcome letter and dictionaries are installed.

The Interface Basics

1. Keyboard
On first use, the keyboard seemed slow to respond, but after a while I realised that it's just the key flash that seems slow - you can actually type quite quickly on it. The buttons are a reasonable size and easy enough to target accurately. What would be nice in the future (considering the Kindle Touch has built in speakers) is an option for an audible click.

2. Navigating
The Kindle Touch has only a single button which is a larger version of the 'Home' button found on other Kindles. All other functions must be accessed via the touch screen.

To bring up a menu you just tap the menu button at the top of the screen. (If it's not visible you just tap near the top anyway to show it).

When reading a book, the screen is divided into 3 distinct zones which you can tap to perform basic navigation. A narrow one one the left for paging back and a much larger one on the right for paging forward. The zone at the top will bring up the menu as mentioned above. The easyreach tap zones aren't active from the home screen, so to move around pages from the home screen, you swipe across right to left to go forward or vice-versa to go back. Swiping can also be done whilst reading a book as an alternative to the easyreach zones.

The menus are very simple to navigate - just tap on a menu item to activate it.

Pinch and Zoom is available on eBooks, PDFs and the web browser. Because it's an e-ink screen, don't expect it to behave like an iPad, but it works reasonably well and is a lot easier than the magnifying glass found on non-touch Kindles. Whilst reading a book, pinching will essentially change the font size either a step up or a step down.

The Screen

The screen is the same e-ink pearl screen used in the Kindle Keyboard, Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch. There are known to be slight differences from screen to screen due to manufacturing. Back in my Kindle 4 review I mentioned that the screen had a better contrast than my Kindle Keyboard. This new Kindle Touch is somewhere between the two. At a pinch I would say that in this instance the screen on my particular Kindle 4 is slightly better to read than the Touch.

One thing that is worthy of particular attention is that there is no screen-rotation option on the Kindle 4 and this applies to books, PDFs and web browsing, so if you are used to switching to landscape to view websites and PDFs you should be wary of this. I can't see any particular reason for this option to be removed other than the need for Amazon to add software to rotate the tap zones. Perhaps it will come in an update.

Reading eBooks

Reading eBooks is exactly like reading on any of the other Kindles except for the touch interface. As a left hander, I find the tap zones are quite well placed for one handed reading. In the right hand however, it is impossible to reach the left zone with your thumb, so you would need to swipe to go back. I guess it's not a big deal as you don't go backward very often during the course of reading, but it does seem strange that the configuration works better for lefties. Oddly there is no option to change zones to say you are left or right handed. Again perhaps in a software update...

Page turn times are not quite as fast as the Kindle 4 (this is with both Kindles set to not refresh every pages) but still very good.


At the moment, there are apparently not many books with X-Ray support, but for the purpose of testing I purchased a book known to have support, UR by Stephen King. I haven't read the book as yet, but I have tested the X-Ray function and it works correctly from the UK.

X-Ray lists important characters, locations and other details from the books. With X-Ray you can for example look up a character and then see all the places in the book where that character appears as well as a profile of the character and any other relevant references.

I don't know if I would use it a huge amount, but it is a very nice feature and very well implemented.

Viewing PDFs

PDF viewing is good, but without the option to rotate the screen it is difficult to read anything but simple documents without zooming in. Zooming in is achieved by pinching the screen like an iPad or iPhone and works well considering the limitations. Scrolling is likewise done by swiping the finger in the appropriate direction. Both the zooming and scrolling are ok, but nothing to write home about.

Web Browsing

The most important thing to note about web browsing is that when connected to 3G (ie no wi-fi) you can ONLY browse Amazon sites (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com etc) or Wikipedia. Any attempt to connect to a site outside of these results in a dialogue prompting you to connect to wi-fi.

[Image: ktouch-no3g-20111117-163052.jpg]

This limitation aside, the browser is approximately the same speed as the Kindle 4 browser which is noticeably quicker than the Kindle Keyboard's browser. The same quirks are still there, like not being able to open links in a new window.

Scrolling around the web page is much the same as scrolling around a PDF and the pinch to zoom also works in the same way. Again the lack of screen rotation may be a cause for concern.

Text to Speech

Text to speech is still listed as experimental and can be enabled on any book or document that doesn't explicitly restrict it.

Quality wise, there are definite improvements over the Kindle Keyboard with a more natural sounding voice for both male and female. It's still not perfect, but it's definitely getting there. It's also more usable on the Kindle Touch because of the on-screen controls for playback.


Audiobooks and MP3 playback are both fairly usable because of the improved on-screen controls. There are no problems using audiobooks from an Audible.co.uk account.

The Bottom Line

There's no easy way to sum up the Kindle Touch 3G, so I'll simply list the likes and dislikes I have. What I would say is that if you are only really interested in reading then the Kindle 4 / Kindle Wi-Fi basic model is by far the best choice because of its speed and ease of use. The Kindle Touch can be tiresome for scrolling around PDFs and web pages as it is not quite responsive enough.

I intend to follow this review up once I have had time to settle down to some serious reading, so I may revise this initial opinion in time.

Kindle Touch Likes
  • The interface and menus are great and very easy to use
  • The screen is as good as the other Kindle models taking into account manufacturing differences
  • It's small and light
  • The audio functions are very usable thanks to the on-screen controls and the text to speech is much more natural sounding.
  • The X-Ray feature works really well
  • The on-screen keyboard is very good and in my opinion even better than the one found on the Kindle Keyboard.
  • The Kindle Touch has a better browser and PDF viewer than the Kindle Keyboard
  • Pinch and zoom is quite nice as long as you aren't expecting it to be like an iPad.

Kindle Touch Dislikes
  • Touch interface can be sluggish and scrolling can be tiresome.
  • No option to rotate the screen
  • No option to switch between left and right handed use for the easyreach zones. In their default configuration they are more suited to left handed use which is lucky for me.
  • The 3G can't be used to browse the web other than Amazon sites and Wikipedia
  • It doesn't feel quite as responsive as the much cheaper Kindle 4
  • Is slightly heavier and doesn't look quite as nice as the Kindle 4

Is it worth importing one from the US?

If you already have a Kindle Keyboard 3G or were thinking of buying a Kindle Keyboard and intend to use most of the features, this is definitely a step up providing you don't mind losing the 3G open web browsing. The total cost to import will be around £35-40 more than the Kindle Keyboard but you will get the latest model with some big improvements in certain areas.

If you won't be using all the features and mainly just want to read books, I would suggest going with a Kindle 4 / Wi-Fi as this is, in my opinion, the best plain eBook reader around.

Either way, I'd say that it's hard to recommend the Kindle Keyboard 3G any more unless you have to have the 3G web browsing.

Is it the ultimate Kindle?


The Kindle range is a very odd mix at the moment with the cheapest, low-end Kindle 4 being a very stylish, responsive device; the Kindle Keyboard a bit long in the tooth but with free 3G browsing and the Kindle Touch an expensive import but with some advanced features and alas no free browsing and slightly sluggish.

For a truly unbeatable Kindle you would have to combine features from all three models which really is quite odd. The ultimate Kindle would :
  • Have the design, size and weight of the Kindle 4
  • Be as fast and responsive as the Kindle 4
  • Have the touch screen keyboard and interface of the Kindle Touch
  • Have X-Ray like Kindle Touch
  • Allow you to rotate the screen like Kindle 4
  • Have free 3G web browsing of any site like the Kindle Keyboard.
  • Have side buttons as well like the Kindle 4
Barnacle Boy! We have to find those stolen Naggy Daddies!
Offline Sizbut
17 Nov 2011, 06:52 PM | Post: #2

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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

Many thanks, excellent level of detail. Answered most of my questions. Very pleased that the page turn is a tap, not a swipe.
Offline Notoriety Reading Five Days in May by Andrew Adonis
17 Nov 2011, 07:48 PM | Post: #3

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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

Thanks again Lou - very thorough. We wait your Fire review with baited breath! I think I'll stick with my Kindle Keyboard. BTW I picked up a dislay model of a KIndle 4 in Tescos yesterday. It was obviously not working and tethered to the display but I wasn't so comfortable with the short distance from the edge of the Kindle to the page turn buttons.

Arab proverb: Only a fool lends his books and only a fool returns them.
Offline Lou Reading Ryria Series by Michael J Sullivan
17 Nov 2011, 08:09 PM | Post: #4


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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

Quote: I wasn't so comfortable with the short distance from the edge of the Kindle 4 to the page turn buttons.

I've developed a method I call The Claw for this. You can hold it in one hand gripping the edges and then kind of squeeze to do the page turn. It works surprisingly well, but you do need large-ish hands.
Barnacle Boy! We have to find those stolen Naggy Daddies!
Offline Lou Reading Ryria Series by Michael J Sullivan
17 Nov 2011, 11:06 PM | Post: #5


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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

Quote: We wait your Fire review

Carryonvending will be doing the Fire review fingers crossed. I haven't got hold of one of those yet.
Barnacle Boy! We have to find those stolen Naggy Daddies!
Offline sujay Reading The Glass Guardian by Linda Gillard
18 Nov 2011, 08:23 AM | Post: #6

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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

A fantastic review Lou, thank you. It looks like a pretty good deal. Still not convinced I want to be tapping my screen all the time though. I get so annoyed with smears on my phone screen, not sure I could cope with them in my e-reader as well! Smile
Only happy when I am immersed in a good Kindle book Thumbs Up
Offline paulmoody
08 Jan 2012, 09:20 PM | Post: #7

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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

So does the 3G just connect itself? Or are there any processes to go through to get it working? (On the 3G model of course)
Offline Lou Reading Ryria Series by Michael J Sullivan
08 Jan 2012, 09:35 PM | Post: #8


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RE: Kindle Touch Review : US Kindle Touch imported to the UK

3G will just automatically connect when a wi-fi connection isn't available, no need to set anything up at all.
Barnacle Boy! We have to find those stolen Naggy Daddies!

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