Kindle eBook readers

Amazon Kindle was one of the first eBook readers to be launched and is still one of the most popular devices. The information below outlines the main differences within the Kindle range for reading eBooks, newspapers and magazines.

Kindle Fire HD and HDX

The Kindle Fire HD was released in 2012. A new version, and the Kindle Fire HDX, both with improved accessibility features, were released in October 2013.

Kindle Fire HDs all have full colour screens and are capable of playing films, TV shows and games, as well as having a Store from which further apps can be downloaded. They can also be used as eBook readers!

  • Kindle Fire HD has a 7" HD touchscreen with a resolution of 216ppi, weighs 345g and has Wi-Fi. There are 8GB and 16GB models.
  • Kindle Fire HDX has a 7" HD touchscreen with a resolution of 323ppi, and is available with Wi-Fi only, weighing 303g, or Wi-Fi and 4G/3G, weighing 311g. There are various storage options between 16GB and 64GB.
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" has a larger screen with a resolution of 339ppi. Otherwise it has the same options as the HDX. The Wi-Fi only version weighs 374g while the Wi-Fi + 4G/3G version weighs 384g.

There is no on-going charge for the 4G/3G capability. All three have very clear colour touch screens, and good contrast between the white or orange text on a black background for the Home screen and menus. When reading a book, you can change size of text and choose between white text on black, black text on white and black text on sepia.

The Kindle Fires have a text-to-speech function, called "Screen Reader", and another accessibility feature called "Explore by touch". On the 2013 models, these can be turned on independently during initial set up of the device. Once they are on, you can use standard Android gestures to open the Books app, browse the list of books, open one and read it without being able to see the screen. You can also check the spelling of words, look them up in the dictionary, or select text to highlight or annotate.

Braille support is available for a few recently released Bluetooth displays via the BrailleBack app which has to be downloaded and installed separately.

As well as font options for book content, there is a Large Font Size setting to make menus and on-screen controls easier to see, and a

Screen Magnifier for greater enlargement of all screen content except for the on-screen keyboard.

Watch our videos

Accessibility on the 2013 Kindle Fire HD

Mayday - Amazon Assist

One of the features on the Kindle Fire HDX, is Mayday, which puts you in direct contact with an Amazon tech advisor who can help you with problems. What happens if a low vision reader tries to use the feature?

2013 Kindle Fire HD with low vision

2013 Kindle Fire HD with speech

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite is an eInk touchscreen device based on the new "Carta" display technology, giving a resolution of 212 ppi. It has a built-in front light of variable brightness, and a range of font sizes and shapes.

It is available as Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 3G - there is no on-going charge for the 3G capability. The Wi-Fi only model weighs 206g, with the Wi-Fi + 3G version weighing 213g.

It has internal storage for over 1000 books and, although it has no SD card slot, it does offer free cloud storage.

The battery should last for up to 28 hours with the light on full brightness.

Watch our Kindle Paperwhite video demonstrating its low vision facilities.

Kindle reader

Kindle Reader is a basic eInk reader with a choice of font sizes for book content.

It weighs 170g and can store 1,400 books. The battery gives up to 15 hours of reading time, and takes three hours to recharge. It has a Wi-Fi connection.

There is a choice of font and font size for book content, but not for menus or other facilities such as the dictionary or the purchase of eBooks from the device. You can use your computer or phone to buy books from the Amazon website and have them sent wirelessly to your Kindle.

Kindle DX

The Kindle DX is very similar to the Kindle Keyboard, except that it has a much larger screen - 24.25cm diagonal - and a slightly different keyboard layout. It also has no VoiceGuide speech for menus or the book list, which means it's very difficult for someone with no sight to use.

The Kindle DX has never been available from Amazon in the UK, but can be purchased from Amazon's US site and shipped abroad.

Note that it comes with a USB cable for charging from a computer, but a plug has to be bought separately. It may also be possible to buy a second hand unit within the UK.

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