The Kindle lineup of devices has become the de facto choice for anyone looking for a dedicated ebook reader in India. The most affordable Kindle is priced at Rs. 5,999 in India right now, but it lacks one major feature — a front light. This means that just like a real book, you can't use it to read in dark rooms without a lamp, as the screen doesn't light up. The new Kindle (10th Gen) is here to address that. It has a front light and is priced at Rs. 7,999, making it the most affordable Kindle with this feature.
The Kindle (10th Gen) is pretty similar to its predecessor, and is currently being sold alongside it. The new Kindle is slightly heavier (174g vs 161g) and slightly thinner (8.7mm vs 9.1mm). In the US, the Kindle (10th Gen) ships with support for Audible, the Amazon-owned store for audiobooks, but not in India. This is a bit of a disappointment but not a dealbreaker.
The Kindle (10th Gen) has 4GB of storage, of which around 2.5GB is free. It has a low-resolution screen with a pixel density of 167ppi, which is lower than the 300ppi screens on more expensive Kindle ebook readers. We'll talk about the display and reading experience at length later, but now's a good time to point out that all of the Kindle (10th Gen)'s specifications are identical to those of the Rs. 5,999 Kindle, which was released in 2016. It's pretty clear that the front light is the only major change between these two products. Let's dive in and find out more.
The Kindle (10th Gen) has a pretty basic and functional design. It has a 6-inch e-ink display with generous bezels on all sides of the screen. This isn't a problem because people often want to grip the device with one hand. Your thumb can rest on the bezel and you can quickly tap the screen to flip to the next page. There's a power button at the base of the Kindle (10th Gen) along with a Micro-USB port for charging.
There are two colour variants of the Kindle (10th Gen) — black and white. We received a white unit for review, and we wouldn't recommend using it without a case. The finish got dirty quite quickly even though we didn't place the device on any dusty surfaces.
There have been no major changes to the Kindle software or ecosystem in the recent past. The home screen has been pretty much the same for a few years now — a mixture of your library, reading lists (via Goodreads, the Amazon-owned social network for books), and recommendations from the Kindle Store. You can disable this to make the home screen show only books from your library if you wish.
The introduction of services such as Prime Reading, which is bundled with your Amazon Prime subscription, has made it a lot easier to get into the Kindle ecosystem. We found some good books in Prime Reading such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and started reading these for free. This is a nice option to have, and when you also consider the fact that the Kindle Store in India has quite a few books listed for less than Rs. 100, it becomes clear that the ecosystem is pretty accessible in terms of pricing in India.
You don't have to be locked in to the Kindle ecosystem, however. You can read DRM-free books that you have purchased from other sources online. We've bought several DRM-free books over the years, and have downloaded others for free when publishers were giving them away. We used the app Calibre to convert these books to the AZW3 or MOBI formats to read on the Kindle (10th Gen). This step would be unnecessary if Amazon's devices supported the popular EPUB ebook file format.
Once you start reading a book, some minor tweaks might help improve your reading experience. You can choose from a small number of fonts. It would be nice to have more choices, but we were able to find a font that we like a lot (Bookerly) so we don't have any complaints. You can adjust the font size and even the weight (making text bolder), which is a nice touch that many will appreciate.
For any ebook reader, the screen is everything. If the display isn't good, the ebook reader immediately becomes less useful. The Kindle (10th Gen) does suffer quite a bit due to its inferior display relative to the Kindle Paperwhite. Fonts, book covers, and illustrations (such as maps in books) don't look great at times.
To be honest, we stopped noticing the low-resolution fonts after a while, but book covers and illustrations continued to bother us on the Kindle (10th Gen). The low-resolution screen will bother you a lot if you've used a Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Oasis before, but if this is your first Kindle you might not notice this.
The front light on the Kindle (10th Gen) uses four LEDs, as opposed to five on the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite. This made no real difference in our experience. There's no auto-brightness adjustment feature, so you'll have to adjust it manually when needed. We found it comfortable to read books on the Kindle (10th Gen) even in dark rooms.
The Kindle (10th Gen) performed well during the one week that we used it. We got through about 80 percent of an 800-page book in this time with a few hours of reading per day, which we'd consider to be above-average use. New pages loaded almost instantly, and there was no noticeable delay when reading text.
The battery went from 100 to 30 percent over this period with airplane mode enabled after the initial setup and a couple of purchases. If you use the Kindle (10th Gen) for an hour each day, it won't need to be charged more than once every fortnight.
The Kindle (10th Gen) is a lot harder to recommend than its predecessor. Our biggest concern is its price. At Rs. 7,999, we think the Kindle (10th Gen) is overpriced because the front light alone is not enough to justify the Rs. 2,000 premium over its predecessor. The older Kindle Paperwhite (which has since been discontinued) launched at Rs. 10,999 but as recently as January this year, it was available for Rs. 8,499 on sale.
We can't help but wonder whether it would have been a better strategy for Amazon to keep the old Paperwhite around at a discounted price in India instead of launching this model, because its superior screen would have been worth the premium. However, the Kindle (10th Gen) just doesn't have enough features to justify the price hike. The lack of Audible support in India even after the launch of the service here is also disappointing.
If you're okay with paying a premium just for the front light, the Kindle (10th Gen) won't disappoint you. However, most people could just get the lower priced Kindle at Rs. 5,999 along with an affordable clip-on light attachment (such as this or this). It might not be elegant solution but it does the same thing at a lower price
Rating (out of 5): 2.5