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Why I hate the Kindle Touch

A lover of the Amazon Kindle dumps the Kindle Touch in favour of a cheaper model.

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The Kindle Touch sounds like a great idea, getting rid of the buttons and having a touch screen display seems really cool. But then you actually get one and use it.

Alas, the processor isn’t really up to the job of handling touch commands. You tap and swipe until something happens, unsure which of your finger movements actually did something.

The page refresh isn’t as clean as with previous Kindle’s, a function of the slower processor. Amazon has tried to workaround this by turning off the full page refresh when you switch pages. This can leave bits on the new page that is left over from the page before – ouch.

To fix that you go into Menu | Reading Options | Page Refresh = ON .That will slow down the page turning so you have to decide if you prefer a ‘dirty’ but fast page change or a clean and slightly slower one.

But the real PITA on the Kindle Touch is the page turning ‘tap zones’ that ignore what Kindle customers have become used to; ignores left-handers entirely and tries to replicate the paper book experience which is inappropriate for the device.

The Kindle Touch has ‘EasyReach’ tap zones. I don’t know what liquid marketing lunch came up with the name ‘EasyReach’ but they clearly hadn’t actually used the device. Here are the places you can touch to turn pages:

Kindle touch zones for page turning image from Why I hate the Kindle Touch at

On the left is a small zone to go back a page with a large zone on the right to go forward a page. It seems reasonable until you try it.

Until now, Kindle’s have had page turning physical buttons on each side. A large one to turn forward a page and a smaller one above it to turn back. They work great for one-handed readers (left and right). It’s also great for the many Kindle users who switch hands while reading, which is easy to do because the Kindle is so light.

It was a sensible design that was easy to understand and use. It took into account the different format and use of an ebook.

The Kindle Touch throws that away in favor of a misguided attempt to copy the behavior of a paper book.

The large right zone works for right-handed holding of the Kindle Touch. Your thumb can push down on the screens edge to advance a page.

But on the left side your thumb has to ‘reach’ over the page back zone to move forward a page – and sometimes fails so you go back instead.


UPDATE: Office Watch reader Chuck R has another view:

Contra your article, I love my Kindle Touch, and I am left handed! The secret is to ignore the "touch zones" and swipe your thumb either left or right to go forward and backward. I can hold the Kindle in either hand, and it works with either thumb. Obviously, YMMV!

Maybe it's just our clumsy thumbs but we could not get this to work comfortably.  The swipe motion would often make the page go back (as per the touch zone) rather than the direction of the swipe.  As Chuck says 'Your Milage May Vary".


The really frustrating thing about the ‘EasyReach’ zones is that they could have been made adjustable with a software option. Amazon could have allowed customers other page turning choices:

  • Reverse the zones so the page advance zone is on the left. Good for left-handers (a constituency that Amazon has been aware of, until now).
  • ‘Kindle Button’ like zones would be even better. Instead of left/right zones have a lower zone for page advance (which emulates the physical buttons on other Kindles) and smaller upper zone for page back.

The ‘Kindle button’ zones would work for both left and right handers plus those who switch their Kindle between hands. They also truly be ‘EasyReach’ unlike the current feature of that name.

A better Kindle

Better value is the plain Kindle for $79. It has physical buttons on each side and along the bottom, is faster, more responsive and lighter than the overhyped Touch models. The Kindle (sometimes called Kindle 4) only has Wifi but that’s more than enough for most people.

The Kindle ‘only’ has 2GB of space instead of 4GB on the more expensive models. As a long-time Kindle user I can assure you that 2GB is plenty of room. If you run out of space (unlikely) the excellent Calibre will help you move titles to and from the device.

My only complaint about the Kindle is that it’s so damn small it can be hard to find in my bag!

If you need the 3G option (handy for global travellers) then consider the Kindle Keyboard 3G which is now the only model with 3G and physical buttons.

Cheaper Kindles

The cheaper ‘ads’ Kindle’s (aka ‘special offers’) are the economical choice. The ads don’t intrude on reading and only appear on the bottom of menus and the screensaver when the device is off. You can easily ignore the ads and save yourself $30.

Tip: you can convert a ‘special offers’ Kindle to an ad free one by paying the price difference. Go to Manage your Kindle. You can’t get a refund by asking for the more expensive device to get ‘special offers’ after purchase. So buy the cheaper ‘special offers’ device and, if you can’t stand the ads, pay the difference later.

Article posted: Friday, 17 February 2012

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