Saturday, October 27, 2012

My review of the Kindle Paperwhite

I've had the Paperwhite for several days now. I got the 3G model, but of course the first thing I did was connect to my home network. It was pretty easy to set it up, and the bunch of books I had already sent to the Paperwhite downloaded quickly.  I've read on it for a fair bit now, and I'm ready to say what I like and what I don't.

The Good

  • The screen: It's fantastic! It really is a noticeably better level of contrast, blacker letters on a whiter page. Black and white photos and drawings look especially crisp and nice. The Paperwhite screen is also more responsive, because it's capacitive instead of infrared, I find that the number of times I advance a page without meaning to is much less than with the Touch. 
  • The built-in light: It provides excellent, easy to control, pretty even lighting, and it doesn't seem to drain the battery, either.
  • The feel: The Paperwhite is so small and light! I am happy I got a slip case so I can easily take the Kindle out of it and read with just the device in my hand. It makes one-handed reading easier.
  • The screen savers: The screen savers (unless you have a KSO* version) are the same as for the Touch, and I was happy not to lose them.
  • The Home screen:  The Paperwhite has the option of displaying book covers instead of just titles and authors. As long as it's an option, I'm OK with that. It's nice to have when you want it, but I won't always want to waste that much screen real estate on book covers.  

The Bad 

  • No text-to-speech (TTS) or speakers or a headphone jack. Frowny face over that one.
  • Ads on the home screen! I did not get a KSO version, but when I have the home screen set to display book covers, it will list a row of books on my Kindle, and then a row of "Editor's Picks," a.k.a. books or Kindle Singles that Amazon wants me to buy. In other words, I'm seeing freakin' ads! Cut it out, Amazon! They might be great books, but they're still books I don't own and you want to sell me. When I want to shop, I'll shop. Luckily, the ads don't show after page 1, or if you're using List mode. Addendum: Amazon now allows you to turn this off! Yay!
  • No Home button. The Touch had one physical button (beside the off switch) and that was the button on the bottom of the bezel that you could press from anywhere and it would take you to your Home screen. Now I have to get the menu, and then press the Home icon.  It's not terrible, but it's not as easy.
  • No page swipe up and down for next chapter/last chapter. Why the hell did they take this feature away? It was a wonderful way to browse an ebook. I don't care that all the chapter headings are now on the Go To menu, why can't I browse without getting a menu every time? 

The Undecided

  • Collections: I haven't imported my collections to this Kindle yet, because I don't have all the books I want copied over yet. Kindle collections are device-specific; if I import my Kindle Touch collections now, it will apply those labels to the books currently on the Paperwhite, but if I send over more books from my Archive (now called The Cloud), then they won't keep the labels they had on the Touch on them when they arrive on the Paperwhite.  Once I get everything set up, I will import my collections and see how it goes. If collections are raddically differnt on the Paperwhite than they are on the Touch, I might do a post on just collections. 
  • The timer: The Paperwhite alerts you to how much longer it will take you to finish reading a chapter and even how long for he book as a whole. I haven't decided yet it that's annoying or useful. 
  • Airplane mode: Having the wireless off is now referred to as Airplane mode. You even get a little icon of an airplane on the status bar to show you airplane mode is on (and ergo, wireless is off). Maybe it's to encourage the FAA to let people keep their Kindles on during take-off; otherwise, I don't get why they changed the wording of a feature the Kindle has had since Day 1. they also moved the function to the settings menu, so that's an extra step as well as a weird name.

All in all, I love my new Paperwhite. I have had the original Kindle, the Kindle 2, the Kindle 3 (now known as the Kindle Keyboard), and the Kindle Touch. Each new device has offered improvements, but this is the first time when it has felt like there really is not that much to improve, at least in the hardware (except for TTS).

If I were posting this on Amazon, I would have to give it five out of five stars.

* KSO is Kindle with special offers, a cheaper version that shows ads as screen savers and on the home screen.

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