WHILE ONLINE BOOKSELLER Amazon has recently announced its intention to compete in the all-singing all-dancing tablet market with the forthcoming launch of the Fire it clearly hasn't stopped development on its simple but hugely popular Kindle ebook reader.
Launched on Tuesday, the Kindle 4 represents the next stage in the development of the product and sees Amazon replace the physical keyboard found on former versions of the device with a graphic keyboard interacted with by a five-way control button.
It would appear that Amazon has changed this system merely to make the device smaller as there appear to be few other benefits from the change and it's actually something of a step back from physical keyboard system on current Kindle models.
Inputting is much slower and quite frustrating, with the user having to scroll from one letter to another on the virtual keypad. The keyboard on the current version is hardly swish, with the keys fiddly to use, but it is a lot quicker than the Kindle 4 system.
However, while the change in the keyboard is not much of an improvement, it does help make the device notably smaller and lighter, weighing just 170g and measuring 166x114x8.7mm.
Amazon claims this makes it 30 per cent lighter and almost 20 per cent smaller and the device now takes up less space than even a small paperback, so for those wanting a device that will take up less space when traveling, the Kindle 4 could prove tempting.
It also means the device can easily fit in the inside of a suit jacket pocket. This is something the current models can do but in reality are too long to fit comfortably or avoid the risk of the device toppling out if rushing for a departing train at a busy station.
Despite reducing the size and weight of the device Amazon has done nothing to upgrade the screen's size or display, still measuring six inches with a basic 600x800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi (pixels per inch) and the basic 16-level grey scale display.
However, while the screen is basic when compared to a tablet's display, regular users of Kindle devices will appreciate that in day-to-day use this system actually works a lot better as it's easy on the eyes and doesn't suffer from direct sunlight glare.
One area that Amazon has improved, though, is page turning speed, with the firm touting a 10 per cent improvement and this is probably the most impressive upgrade in the new device.
While the page turning on the current devices is hardly time consuming there is enough of a lag each time you turn a page that feels somewhat irritating, especially if you're a speedy reader.
Those considering upgrading from their old Kindle to the new device might find this the most appealing reason to upgrade, along with the fact the device is a very reasonable £89.