Amazon Kindle 2016 review: Cheapest Kindle loses weight, adds Bluetooth feature

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The Good The most affordable Kindle gets a subtle but worthwhile design upgrade (it's slimmer, lighter and less angular) and adds Bluetooth audio for accessibility, so visually impaired readers can hear VoiceView audio.

The Bad No integrated light; price hasn't gotten any lower.

The Bottom Line While the 2016 Kindle isn't a huge improvement over its predecessor, it's a perfectly good e-reader with a clearly improved design and a big upgrade for the visually impaired.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Ecosystem 10
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Amazon's most affordable Kindle e-reader ($80; £60; AU$109) has been refreshed for 2016. It's now 11 percent thinner, 16 percent lighter, has more rounded edges and comes in white as well as black.

The Kindle is frequently discounted from its standard $80 price. Check our list of Amazon device deals to see if it's on sale now.

The design changes may not seem major, but any time you can shave some weight off an e-reader it makes a difference. At 5.7 ounces or 161g, the latest entry-level Kindle is actually the second lightest Amazon reader, trailing only the top-of the line Amazon Kindle Oasis.

The new Kindle (on right) is smaller and lighter than the 2014 model. It's available in white or black.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It feels light in hand, but it's worth noting that the shell and edges are made out of of hard, smooth plastic (it retains the same no frills look, making it a touch slippery). Optional protective covers are available, including Amazon's well-designed form-fitting case -- though it's a bit pricey at $30, £20 or AU$30 (it's slimmer and lighter than previous covers).

One key missing feature is the integrated light found in the step-up Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis models. Also, those devices have higher-resolution displays -- this entry-level Kindle's screen isn't as crisp (167 ppi compared to 300 ppi of its more expensive siblings).

But this Kindle does have a touchscreen (unlike the pre-2014 baseline models) and it's equipped with 4GB of storage, which enables you to store thousands of e-books. Amazon has also apparently doubled the amount of RAM, bumping it up to 512MB. I didn't really notice a difference in performance, however.