The Kindle Paperwhite: It’s no paperweight

Photo by Joseph Chang

Photo by Joseph Chang

After months of unbearable waiting and two blog posts, the Kindle Paperwhite finally arrived at my doorstep on Tuesday.

This is my first Kindle ever. Because of that, this review will not attempt to make any comparisons with prior models.

After approximately two days of using the Kindle, I am generally very pleased. As an avid reader, I was one of those purists who feared that the joy of reading traditional books would soon be a thing of the past, as an e-reader-dominated future slowly took over. It’s still too early to make that call, but in my short experience so far, I think e-readers aren’t really as evil as I thought. The surreal realization of being able to take your entire library of books with you wherever you go is reminiscent of the iPod’s introduction as “1,000 songs in your pocket”. I think that benefit alone makes any e-reader a must-have. Best of all, no more paper cuts!

I hope you enjoy my review and feel free to share your experience and thoughts so far with the new Kindle.

Pros:

E-ink works as advertised – You’ve probably heard of that satanic technology called E-ink. That technology that makes any display resemble traditional print? Well, let me tell you this. It is gorgeous to look at. Unlike staring at your typical LCD-backlit screen on your laptop or smartphone, e-ink is like giving your sunlight-deprived eyes a nice vacation. There have been some studies, mostly inconclusive, that have ventured into whether or not e-ink has any negative effects on your eyesight. But think of it this way. Imagine if you could take a blog post you come across on your computer and read it later on your Kindle. I’m no ophthalmologist but I would be willing to bet that that is better for your eyes.

Weighs like a feather – Weighing in at 7.5 ounces, the Kindle Paperwhite is easy to hold using just one hand. Although turning pages might be easier using both hands than the fingers from the hand holding the device. The Paperwhite’s closest competitor, the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, is actually lighter and settles in at 6.95 ounces.

dictionary

Wouldn’t this be awesome?

Inline dictionary – One of the drawbacks with reading any book is that if you come across any word that you are unfamiliar with, it’s not easy to look up the definition without having to put the book down. On my laptop, I’ve solved this with the Google Dictionary chrome extension. It lets me view the definition of any word instantly by double-clicking to highlight any word on my page. I highly recommend installing it.

That same capability comes baked right into the Paperwhite. Just press and hold a word on a page, and a definition will show up right where you are reading. This is a gift from the heavens.

Seamless integration with apps like Instapaper, Readability – I currently use my Kindle primarily to read articles I come across online. Both Instapaper and Readability allow you to easily send your saved articles to your device.

Actually reading super-long articles I find online – One of the drawbacks with reading on a computer is that your reading speed isn’t as fast, the LCD screen is harsh on the eyes, and distractions abound with the likes of Twitter and Facebook a mere click away. It’s such a joy now to actually finish long articles I find on publications like The New York Times and The Atlantic. I am even considering using Longreads more often now.

Special Offers is actually pretty interesting – I read that this was a common opinion amongst many Kindle users. I can now attest to that despite the short period of use. On the first night of owning the device, I came across an offer to redeem $5 in Amazon MP3 credit. With just a couple of taps, Amazon emailed me a code which I immediately redeemed. Thanks, Amazon!

Cons:

Page turn flicker – Having played with an earlier Kindle model, this gave me the greatest reservation about whether or not to jump aboard the Kindle bandwagon. It was like the Kindle was blinking for me without me blinking. Right when I started using the Paperwhite, I thought my fears would become realized, that my beloved Kindle would indeed become a Paperweight.

Now, I barely notice it. It’s still too early to say so definitely but its remarkable how quickly our eyes can adapt to stop noticing certain things. Maybe this shouldn’t be listed here.

For those of you who have been long-time Kindle owners, how do you feel about the page refreshes? Does it bother you in the slightest?

holding kindle paperwhite

2 GB of memory – This was kind of a downer. Amazon claims that you can hold up to a thousand books on the Kindle with that capacity but I’m assuming that is without images. Worse, I can’t seem to be able to check my remaining storage unless I hook up the Kindle to my computer via USB. Has anyone found that elusive setting? Please share.

No audio port – I don’t listen to music whenever I read but I was hoping to listen to some audiobooks. Well, guess I just have to read.

Responsiveness – Having only experience with iOS devices when it comes to touch screen devices, it’s hard not to compare and judge the Kindle display’s responsiveness. Sometimes pressing certain links or buttons take a mere fraction longer than I like, but in the added delay, it becomes uncomfortably noticeable.

Unintuitive design – In addition to the Kindle’s rather slow response time, navigating the menus and library of books can sometimes be a bit cumbersome. I wish the Kindle had the page-flip animation like on iBooks. I find myself pressing the screen harder just to get the feel of moving around to a different section of the screen. It doesn’t help that the display adjusts so slowly and the flicker refresh appears with every update.

Experimental browser is shit – I laughed when I saw the words “experimental browser” in the main menu options. After using the built-in browser, I understand why. It’s like navigating the web on a Blackberry back in 2005. What’s even funnier is how Amazon added Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook to the default bookmarks thinking that people would actually enjoy using it on the Kindle.

You will love the Kindle Paperwhite

If you love reading, you should definitely buy the Kindle Paperwhite. It will make you fall in love with reading again. If you read a lot of articles online, using services like Instapaper and Readability with your Kindle is unbeatable. Go buy it now.