The Amazing Kindle: Part 2

About 18 months ago, I got my first Kindle. It has truly revolutionized the way I read, so when the Kindle Paperwhite became available here, I ordered one on the first day and finally got it 21 Nov 2012. As I said, I was blown away by my first Kindle, so I was maybe too excited about this one and consequently underwhelmed a little when I got it.

After two weeks of using it daily, I have say, though, that it is a substantial improvement over my previous Kindle Keyboard. For a detailed review of the Paperwhite, I am going to refer you to Engadget’s review, which I think is spot-on. I will, however, highlight a couple of the issues that I think are important. Because I have only used the Kindle Keyboard for a meaningful period of time, that’s my basis for comparison.

Things I liked

  • The introduction/tutorial I got when first turning on the device was quite helpful. Being shown where to touch the screen to do what, and I was ready to use the device at once.
  • I don’t use the light on full brightness, but have it on just a little bit. This way it’s not at all straining the eye the way LC displays on phones or tablet computers are, but it still helps to illuminate the screen when reading in bed or with insufficient lighting outside. The screen’s illumination is a bit uneven, but mostly at the bottom where there isn’t any text.
  • The best new feature is probably the indicator in the bottom right corner showing me how much longer until I finish the chapter. That is super helpful when deciding how much longer to read at night.
  • The contrast and sharpness of the new display is much better, and it also turns over noticeably faster.
  • Using touch to go through menus is obviously much better than using arrow keys. No discussion; well, some discussion: see the Things I didn’t like section.
  • The Paperwhite just feels much better than the “plasticky” Kindle Keyboard, particularly the front. The rubber on the back makes it harder for the device to slip out of your hands, unfortunately it also makes it harder to slip the device into my jacket pocket.
  • It is smaller though, so I can carry it more easily once I got it into my jacket.
  • The on-screen keyboard is really fast and a pleasure to use. Much simpler and faster to type on than the physical keyboard of my previous Kindle. Even though the screen takes a moment to update when typing, the keyboard registers your touch immediately, so you can just hack away.
  • People who have used the entry-level Kindle before tell me that the Paperwhite is heavy, but I don’t think that’s the case compared to the Kindle Keyboard.

Things I didn’t like

  • Touching the screen to flip pages isn’t as convenient as using physical buttons on the side of the device. I read a lot lying on my side in bed, and having to reach around the device to touch the screen is a lot less comfortable than just pressing the edge of the device.
  • In addition to a next page (and maybe a previous page button), I would also like a back and maybe a home button. I think the dedicated back button is one of the most important advantages of Windows Phone and Android over iOS. Making it easy to go back, e.g. after going to a footnote, would make navigation a lot simpler. Requiring two steps (and page refreshes) to go back – tap the top of the screen, then tap back – makes using footnotes or hyperlinks so much more cumbersome.
  • There is an alternative for going back: tapping the number at the beginning of the footnote. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take me back to the same position I was on before. Instead the location of the footnote is now at the top left. Meaning the sentence that the footnote was following is on the previous page. That is very annoying. This needs to be fixed before one can even think about reading scientific books and papers or other works relying heavily on footnotes on the Kindle.

Conclusion

I really like my new Kindle. I am not sure though it was worth the 129 EUR I spent on it. I probably should have kept the Keyboard until the next generation Kindle, which will hopefully address some of the issues I pointed out above. But I guess that’s the price of always trying out the latest stuff. And also, I got to give my old Kindle to my dad, so now everyone in the family has one.

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