October 29, 2012

Kindle Paperwhite Review

Dude.  It's awesome.

So before this I had what is now known as a Kindle Keyboard with the built-in light cover.  It was great.  I have been very happy with it for a couple of years now and it's been adopted by my 9-year-old for her right-before-bed re-reading of the Harry Potter series. I usually took that Kindle out of the cover when I was around the house and only used the cover for carrying around out in the world.  It was a bit bulky and now I can catch up with the books on my iPhone when I'm out and about.

I dreamed of a newer touch screen Kindle without the keyboard and they announced those last year.  But I'm not one to upgrade every iteration of some tech just because.  And I like to wait for the reviews to make sure there's no problems.  The Kindle Touch was nice, but it just didn't really seem worth upgrading for.  Then in the spring when Barnes & Noble announced the "GlowLight" I knew it was only a matter of time before Amazon released a similar feature.  I figured it would be the same Kindle Touch with the added lighting and figured, well, that might be worth upgrading for.

It was worth the wait.  This is the Kindle finally done right.  It's smaller than those other versions and has absolutely no buttons on the front.  There's just a power button on the bottom and a place to plug in the charging cord. I got the case (similar to the one in the photo above, but mine is black).  This cover should come with the thing because it goes with it so well.  This Kindle fits snugly into the case and the clasp is a little magnet that turns it on and off when you close it.  It folds back and actually makes it easier to hold while reading.

The touch screen is better than I expected.  I was worried I'd always be accidentally turning pages, but you need to give it a decisive push or swipe to turn the page.  A light brushing or tap won't do it, which is nice.  I love being able to just touch a word and have the definition pop up!  And it's easily manipulated with one hand, so that's great too.

But I know it's the built in light that's the big draw here.  It's amazing.  I was concerned it would feel like reading on something backlit like an iPad but it's not.  It really feels like there's a light source reflecting of the page (which I suppose there is).  So it doesn't cause any eye strain like trying to read off a tablet in the dark does for me.

There are four little LED bulbs embedded at the bottom of the screen and they somehow magically spread their light evenly over a thin film of magical light spreading something-or-other.  (I'm sure you can read the technical specs if you care.  I'm sticking with magic.) Of course at the very bottom of the page where the little light photons begin their journey across the screen, there is a bit of shadowing of brighter and darker areas.  It's noticeable in low light but it's at the very bottom so doesn't bother me at all.  I've heard people complain about this and often wondered when these people have 100% perfect light coverage over their whole page completely shadow free 100% of the time, because I live in the real world and am always moving around and tilting my books this way and that to get just the right light.  I'm guessing those people would complain if you hung them with a new rope.

Another thing I've heard people complain about is Amazon no longer supplying a wall plug to charge the device.  They do supply a charging cord that ends in a USB plug.  The end that plugs into the Kindle is the same universal size as 90% of the cell phones out there.  So if you have anything in the world with a USB outlet (every computer ever) have or had a cell phone with one of those charging plugs our have any other USB ready wall plug (I like this one) then you're fine. So this is not a big problem.  And if you have a previous version of the Kindle, then you already have a wall plug.  So people need to get over that one.

We've already heard Amazon is taking a loss on most of their Kindle line, so cutting unnecessary items is not surprising.  This Kindle no longer has speakers, text-to-speech or audio capabilities.  I never used that stuff anyway.  I just read books on it. My school is interested in the text-to-speech feature, but Amazon still sells the 3G Kindle Keyboard so we're looking at those.

I'm cheap, so I have ads on my screen saver.  I only see them for a half a second though, before I've opened up my book and am reading.  It does chap me a bit that on the home screen, they now have a "cover view" along with"list view" like they've always had but the entire second row of covers is stuff they're promoting, not stuff from my library.  So I keep it on list view.  But that is a very minor complaint with such a great overall reading tool.

Oh, and have you heard about their little "time remaining" feature?  On the bottom right it shows you something like "19 minutes left in chapter."  It's not terribly accurate but it is a nice ballpark estimate that lets you know if there's a good stopping point coming up.  Cool feature.

As I've mentioned, I'm no format nut.  I read on the Kindle, on my phone, listen to audio books, and check out actual physical books at the library.  I ask for gift cards for birthdays and holidays to keep the Kindle supplied with books, but then use the library or my never-ending pile of unread books at other times.  It always cracks me up when someone says to me, "I'd never get one of those things because..." and it's usually "...I like to get my books for free" or "...I just love the feel of real books" or whatever.  That's okay, you don't have to!  Keep going to the library.  Keep reading real books.  I do too!  It's not an either-or thing.

But if you do have any interest in an e-reader, then this is the best one you're going to find.  If you're already married to Barnes & Noble, I wouldn't switch or anything, but if you already have an earlier Kindle or are ready to take the plunge into e-books, then this is for you.