Having used the Kindle Keyboard for quite some time and enjoyed it to the point of returning my Kindle Touch when it didn’t quite meet the same standards (it was fine and had its own perks, but wasn’t as strong in some of the areas I cared about), I didn’t jump on the Paperwhite when it was first available. I’ve played with it enough to know what I’m talking about in various capacities, but only recently have I picked up my own. Aside from one small complaint, it’s exactly what I was hoping it would be.
The contrast of the Kindle Keyboard was pretty much ideal for me. It created the experience of reading an old, familiar paperback. The new screen was troubling at first because the contrast was actually too extreme. I would say that it more or less resembles a newer high-gloss trade paperback. Not my favorite presentation, but it was very simple to get used to and quickly became a non-issue. All the other benefits of E Ink displays were naturally still around.
The Paperwhite’s signature feature is obviously the front-lighting technology. It was definitely an improvement over the Nook Simpletouch w/ Glowlight. The light was more evenly distributed and brighter without creating a greater drain on battery life. The issues with banding on the bottom of the display are not exaggerated necessarily, but they also have little effect on reading. I found it somewhat annoying to have trouble seeing the progress bar at some points when reading in complete darkness, but the dark areas are still readable and don’t tend to extend into the text in any meaningful way.
The overall experience beyond simply the screen is also worth noting. The loss of 1.2 ounces compared to the Kindle Keyboard makes a small difference overall, but I could see it being meaningful over long reading sessions for some people. As a reader used to holding the old model for hours at a time, it didn’t stand out as particularly useful (especially if you’re using a case anyway) but the reduction was still big enough to note.
The “Time to Read” meter is better than expected. It comes up with an accurate measure of your reading pace after a few minutes, basically enough time to fall into a measured pattern, and generally gets things right from there. Obviously it can’t account for breaks and distractions, but how could it?
If you’re in the market for a new eReader, the Paperwhite is the only real option at the moment. Nothing else comes close to offering the same quality.
Is it enough to consider going out of the way to upgrade from a previous model? Under most circumstances I would say yes. The only really obnoxious shortcoming the device has is a lack of physical page turn buttons. In every other way it’s a functional upgrade. For me, the weight of the accumulated features made the Paperwhite an appealing option, but it isn’t at all unreasonable to consider that a make or break factor. If you can, give it a try and find out for yourself.
While I’m mostly a fan of the Kindle Touch, I’ve largely seen little reason to upgrade from the Kindle Keyboard in day to day use. The darker frame is nice, the keyboard works well for any shopping I have to do, and it has generally proven reliable for quite some time now. Since I knew I would be on the road for about a week recently, however, I decided I would give the Kindle Touch a thorough test. You never know what you might learn by trying, right?
One thing that surprised me was that I was generally able to get a better 3G signal through the Kindle Touch than through my Kindle Keyboard. The Keyboard model is definitely far more broken in, so I can’t necessarily count this as a side by side comparison of new devices, but I was able to get more reliable, faster connections at nearly every stage of a 3,500 mile trip with the Kindle Touch.
I expected that the lighter case on the new Kindle Touch would be a pain compared to what I was used to. This was somewhat accurate. While reading in the majority of indoor lighting situations was fine with either eReader, I noticed that it was much easier to use my Kindle Keyboard in bright sunlight. I’m sure this was an optical illusion rather than actual quality differences, but the lighter frame around the screen left the Kindle Touch looking washed out in truly bright light.
Quite frankly, I love the physical page turn buttons. I still get annoyed at Amazon for removing them. That is literally my only complaint about the general reading experience on the Kindle Touch, though. It is quick, light, easier to hold, and generally everything you want in a reading device. The preference for physical buttons aside, I will admit that after a few page turns I stopped noticing that I was having to touch the screen and things moved quite naturally. This could be a matter of my own preconceptions as much as anything.
The place where I really appreciated having a touch screen was in PDF navigation. Things went much more smoothly than I’m used to. The same is true of in-line annotation in Kindle documents. While it is slightly faster to type on the physical keyboard, that advantage is negated by the fact that the Kindle Touch allows for quick placement of your cursor rather than a slow movement via 5-way control pad. The point here has to go to the Kindle Touch on both issues.
You can’t really complain about the battery life on any Kindle product. I used each of my Kindles for about 4 hours per day across a seven day period. They both still had just under half their batteries left when my drive was over. The charger that was packed could have easily been left at home.
My Kindle Touch is going to be seeing a lot more use. The lighter weight and smaller form made it stand out in a lot of ways and the fact that note taking was so much faster than I expected has persuaded me to make this my daily eReader. There are still many reasons to prefer the Kindle Keyboard, the keyboard among them, but it is not as clear a choice as I had expected. I will try to follow up on this in a few weeks to see if extended use is still preferable when both are available.
In the past several weeks, especially as the Kindle Fire’s release date drew near, many people have been touting the new media tablet as a higher end, more advanced Kindle. While it is definitely true that it opens up new doors for Amazon in terms of content distribution, I don’t necessarily think that it is fair to assume that the Fire is a direct evolution of the line it takes its name from. As such, I figured I might as well do a small comparison on the relative virtues of Amazon’s two newest Kindles.
This is the clear winner in terms of general usefulness. We don’t need a breakdown to prove that, it simply is. The dedicated eReader didn’t rise to popularity because of its exclusive access to the text contained inside eBook files, though. The question is how this device stacks up specifically as an eReader.
- More Responsive Interface
- Larger Storage Capacity
- More Intuitive Sorting/Storage Library Interface
- LCD Display
- Short battery Life
It really is a good system in general besides the back-lit LCD, offering the full functionality of any Kindle or Kindle App prior to the Touch model. When you swap to the white on black color scheme it isn’t even terribly uncomfortable to read for hours at a time, though the fact that you are reading on a screen is never forgotten.
- E Ink Screen
- Long Battery Life
- Slightly slower than Fire
- More Basic Menu System
- Limited PDF Functionality
The biggest things that the new Kindle Touch eReader has going for it revolve around the strengths that the Kindle line has always played to: a reading experience analogous to that of a paper book. This includes no eye strain, page turns faster than physically possible with paper, seemingly endless battery life, and the best selection of books on the market. That last is obviously not restricted to this model, but it helps.
On the downside, the responsiveness of the Kindle Fire when doing things besides plain old reading is far superior. Both the color display and the simple ability to rotate your document also make it the superior device for PDF viewing. While the zooming and scrolling on the Kindle Touch is superior to any previous Kindle due to the touchscreen implementation, for some reason this resulted in the loss of landscape mode. That can be a pain when you’re unable to reflow your document.
When in comes to extended reading, the Kindle eReader is still king. The E Ink screen isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for everybody, but the loss of battery life that comes along with the move to LCD is likely to be. X-Ray is a nice feature and will add some great tools for students and reading groups, but I have yet to find it more than a perk.
On the other hand, for active reference and note taking I would definitely recommend the Kindle Fire. The reading experience shows no lag for me in about 15 hours of use so far, the page turns, highlighting, and note taking are nice and quick, and it can be useful to have the full web browser handy.
The experiences are indeed distinct, and probably will remain so until some form of Color E Ink or an equivalent comes along.
There are more options than there used to be when thinking about which Kindle it is that would suit you the best. You can go with anything from the $379 Kindle DX to the $114 Kindle with Special Offers and you are certain to get the best value for your money, but that doesn’t really help much with the decision. Since the ad supported Kindle is the newest and most easily misunderstood of the line, let’s look at that one a little closer.
The best comparison is between the new Kindle and the older Kindle WiFi. Mostly this is because they are exactly the same thing. This is probably already common knowledge, but it’s worth reiterating. The Kindle with Special Offers is just a Kindle WiFi with advertisements thrown into a couple places that have nothing to do with the reading experience. You will even eventually get a chance to choose ahead of time what you find least objectionable in an ad using the soon to be released AdMash service from Amazon.
Now, plenty of people have been offended by this concept. A lot of the objections have centered on the popular opinion that advertising has no place around books. It’s a little bit difficult to understand this point, given that most paperbacks will already have lists of other books by the publisher or even preview chapters for future books in the last few pages, but it’s a point that gets brought up a lot. To me, this is a lot like getting upset that the local Borders has up banners advertising an upcoming sale. If the ads don’t actually show up while you read, you’re not too likely to notice them. Even the ones that are there while browsing your library are small and unobtrusive to the point of being almost unnoticed.
The other big objection that comes up time after time is to the fact that you have to pay for the device at all. After all, if Amazon is making money off of selling ad space then why should you have to pay for the hardware in the first place? This one is a bit more understandable, but it’s a bit premature. I could definitely see the Kindle becoming a completely free device in the future based on the sales of ads, but it is still an unproven money-maker for Amazon and it just wouldn’t make sense to give anything away yet. As it is, you get a chance at some cool coupons, you save $25, and you aren’t stuck looking at an endless procession of author portraits. Honestly, it can’t really be more annoying than most of those, anyway.
As always, no matter which option you go with you’ll be getting a great reading experience. It’s just a matter of the little details relating to the shopping and shelf-browsing that will be different. My personal take is that you can’t really go wrong getting the Kindle with Special Offers because there’s never a reason to complain about saving $25 and you’ll miss the majority of the ads anyway just by closing your case. It’s all a matter of where you choose to place your priorities.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the potential uses for eReaders beyond the simple enjoyment they are so well suited to providing. It’s an interesting pursuit, really. What it always comes back to, however, is that reading is rarely something people do for anything beyond pleasure in the quantities required to justify something like a Kindle. Except if you’re a student!
See, students will always have more to read in a given week than they will have any interest in carrying around. Which makes something like a Kindle an advantage. At the same time, in many disciplines the mediocre PDF display capabilities, small screen, and lack of color do have the ability to hinder the eReader’s usefulness. Recently, however, we have the iPad and the Nook Color as more expensive but potentially more versatile additions to the student equipment list. It made me curious: We can theorize all we want about what should or shouldn’t be the most useful in a professional or academic setting, but what do the people actually using the devices in these situations think? So I asked.
I talked to 43 students who had all used their eReading device for at least three months. I then went down the list and found the common complaints and praises to share with you all. Here’s what we got:
- Battery that lasts forever
- Glare-free screen
- Storage aplenty
- Built-in Dictionary
- Wide selection of books, both academic & pleasurable
- No color for diagrams
- No functioning microphone
- No way to easily take notes during class
- Awkward pagination
- Slow text searching
- Hard to read faculty-scanned articles
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
- Color Screen
- Very Portable
- Easy to hack
- Runs Android
- Can play games and watch video after hacking
- Poor Battery Life with WiFi turned on
- Can’t read outside
- Complicated to install things on
- Underpowered for full tablet use
- Runs everything
- Good screen
- Can take notes with proper keyboard
- Lots of apps, no hacking needed
- Feels breakable
- Disliked by some instructors
- Very easy to spend too much money through
Now, I’ll start out by saying here that not one person I talked to lately was unhappy with their current purchase. A few of the Nook Color owners had iPad envy, but that was about it. I am also not trying to claim that any of the pros and cons listed for one device do not apply to one of the others. These were just the things that those I talked to felt was important. Everything listed was mentioned by at least five eReader owners.
Surprisingly, of the 12 Nook owners, 10 had rooted their eReaders to make them more functional and most of them said that they enjoyed the tablet functionality more than using them for reading. iPad owners were very happy with their devices, but frequently had trouble with instructors who were wary of potential abuse of the tablets during classes(presumably the same instructors would be anti-laptop as well, of course). Kindle owners were the most satisfied in general but tended to be students in the Humanities, while some of the color tablet owners, in business students, mentioned having been converted away from the Kindle in favor of something that better displayed charts and graphs.
I wouldn’t say we have any clear winners on this one. It’s all a matter of what you want to do and how much you want to pay. If you’re a student in the market for an eReader, you might want to look at some reviews and give these factors some consideration.
For any of you I happened to talk to for this, the responses were appreciated!
Last weekend I spent in Best Buy, waiting for the world’s slowest customer associate to bring me Kindle Wi-Fi. During the [insert a large number here] minutes of me standing near the Kindle display, and the associate going back and forth: writing down, re-writing and double checking the code in order to check if they have any Kindle Wi-Fi’s in stock, I pondered about the world’s slowest turtles and the meaning of life. After the eternity, I learned that they do not have any Kindle Wi-Fi’s left in stock. A logical person would leave the store and perhaps, order the damn thing online. An irritated person, however, grabs the available box with Kindle 3G with one hand, and holding a sweaty (by this time) Best Buy’s get 10% off coupon (the original reason, why I ended up in Best Buy) with another hand and heads over to the cashier. Well, the coupon does not apply to Kindle, which says so (the cashier points into the tiny card) in very fine print. Perhaps, a logical person gets pissed and walks away. But not me, I like sticking to my plans and that is how I ended up getting Kindle 3G.
So here are my first impressions.
Impression #1: (as I unwrapped my purchase immediately in the car) OMG, it fits in my purse!!!
Impression #2: (as I got extremely hungry, while waiting for the world’s slowest customer associate, I went straight to the restaurant. I started playing with my new Kindle and accidentally pressed the text to speech button) OMG, how do I turn off this Robocop’s voice reading Jane Austen?
And now, to the serious business.
Pages. The page-turning buttons are extremely comfortably located. Flip. Flip. Flip. Ah, it feels nice.
Keyboard. The arrow keys are hit and miss. Sometimes, I click and nothing happens. Sometimes, I do not click and the unwanted things occur.
Also, there is plenty of unused space between the keyboard and the screen: why not have a full keyboard (i.e. include the number keys)?
Normal headphone jack instead of those annoying custom ones – awesome!
Text to speech feature: nice to have it, but I don’t think I will be using it at all.
Integrated dictionary: priceless!
In this post I’d like to elaborate on a question: Is there a market for a Kindle with larger screen size (I think next logical Kindle screen size would be somewhere in between 7 and 8 inches)?
At the moment of this review there are two available screen sizes for Kindle. Small version has 6 inch screen and DX version has 9.7 inch screen. Kindle DX screen is quite large and great for reading text books, magazines, newspapers and books with illustrations. But for other books it could be way too large.
Kindle 3G and Kindle WiFi have screen sizes very similar to small paperback books. Kindle 3G/WiFi screen measures to 3.6 in (91 mm) × 4.8 in (122 mm) which is similar to “sixteenmo” page size (the page size of a book made up of printer’s sheets folded into sixteen leaves, each leaf being approximately 4 by 6 inches). It is great format since it is very compact but at the same time it is limited to how much information will fit to one page. Especially this starts to affect your reading experience when you use font scaling.
Even though page turn times significantly improved from first generation of e-Ink – this operation is still time consuming and besides pressing next page button also requires moving your sight from right bottom corner of the screen back to left top corner on each page turn. And flash of the screen doesn’t add to comfort either. Thus by using e-reader with slightly bigger screen may lead to less tired eyes.
E-readers with small screens may be quite useful for people who read very fast since they can scan through entire lines without moving their sight left and right – since on a small screen you can see entire line in focus. But I think number of folks who can read page diagonally in several seconds is quite limited so I won’t consider this as a significant part of this analysis.
Then there is weight and size issue. I highly doubt that increasing screen size by one inch would significantly impact weight. But many people take Kindle with them while travelling and since current Kindle is very compact it could fit in most of the bags – even small ones (on my travels I usually have 17 inch laptop with me so Kindle weight and size is not an issue in my case). So for those who like to carry Kindle in their handbags increasing size of the kindle even by an inch could cause issues. That’s why having two different models may be helpful.
I personally prefer to read books in slightly larger format than what Kindle currently provides. So if Amazon would offer version of Kindle with 7 or 8 inch screen then I would definitely purchase it. What about you – do you think that Kindle with larger screen would make any difference for you?
In a scathing (yet hilarious) review of the Kindle, Robert Scoble – a former technical evangelist at Microsoft – states the following:
1. I want to meet the guy who designed the thing, and I want to beat the crap out of him.
2. It’s obvious they did not think about how the device was going to be used.
3. Amazon is a “cheap-ass company”.
4. In conclusion, “It really sucks.”
I take it he doesn’t like the Kindle device, fundamentally I think he is wrong, Kindle can be a success and whilst the Kindle does have its flaws, it certainly is not going to be a failure. Here are the 6 major criticisms of the Kindle Scoble cites;
1. No ability to buy paper goods from Amazon through Kindle.
2. Usability sucks. They didn’t think about how people would hold this device.
3. UI sucks. Menus? Did they hire some out-of-work Microsoft employees?
4. No ability to send electronic goods to anyone else. I know Mike Arrington has one. I wanted to send him a gift through this of Alan Greenspan’s new book. I couldn’t. That’s lame.
5. No social network. Why don’t I have a list of all my friends who also have Kindles and let them see what I’m reading?
6. No touch screen. The iPhone has taught everyone that I’ve shown this to that screens are meant to be touched. Yet we’re stuck with a silly navigation system because the screen isn’t touchable.
Now as far as I can tell, Scoble has 3 problems with the Kindle – Social Networking, eCommerce, and Usability. The usability seems fine to me on the Kindle, it takes about 30 seconds to figure out how to use the device and then it becomes second nature and most reviews have had a similar experience. In my opinion social networking has no place in a eBook device so that’s a moot point, however the ability to share your profile for thing like a book club might be something worth looking into. And finally eCommerce, the Kindle is a eBooks reader, not a supermarket! who wants to buy a toaster or mountain bike through a Kindle? I certainly don’t want to, I want to buy books and read on my Kindle. If I want to buy anything else, I will log into Amazon.com and purchase my goods that way. However, Scoble does have some valid points so the review is watching even if it it just to watch Scoble lose it.
You can check out the Videos here:
Amazon Kindle video #1. Unboxing.
Amazon Kindle video #2. Kindle first use.
Amazon Kindle video #3. Walking around with Kindle.
Amazon Kindle video #4. Mike Arrington on Kindle.
Amazon Kindle video #5. Books vs. Kindle
Amazon Kindle video #6. Me being a total jerk to Amazon.
Amazon Kindle video #7 (Interview at SF State University).
AppleInsider have just received their Amazon Kindle device and have uploaded an in-depth review of the Kindle along with some very high quality images of the unboxing process.
AppleInsider have done a good job with the unboxing process, unlike most unboxing pictures out there, AppleInsider have taken very high quality images, which are well lit. Good job from the guys at AppleInsider!
When I said earlier that the review was in-depth, I wasn’t kidding, the review is spread out over 5 pages and covers just about everything you can think of! here is an expert of the review where they are talking about the interface and navigation:
The biggest problem for E Ink is that it can’t redraw rapidly enough to support animation such as a mouse cursor or smooth page scrolling. Kindle attempts to work around this limitation using a scroll wheel to navigate between options on the page
Dialing a small roller up and down animates a silvery block cursor in an independent track that uses its own display that can update rapidly (above). This navigation track allows the user to select between options presented on a page, or to select a line of text which might include multiple hyperlinks within it. Once selected, a push down on the roller brings up a menu, typically including options to:
- select from one of the hyperlinks in the selected line.
- lookup a word in the selected line.
- jump to the Home page.
- visit the Kindle Store shopping page.
- navigate within the existing document to its front page, table of contents, a specific location, a sections listing, or user specified bookmarks.
- add notes to a document, highlight a selection, and access earlier notes.
- create bookmarks.
- save a selected page as a digital text clipping that can be output to a computer.
The right and left edges of the unit each have two large buttons: next and previous page buttons on the left, and next page and “back” buttons on the right. It seems logical that “back” and “previous page” would do the same thing, but that is not always the case. Sometimes back returns to a previous section, for example. It isn’t consistent enough to really be intuitive or predictable, however.
There is also a full keypad below the screen for entering text, along with alt, symbol, and search function keys and a button that brings up a menu to change the text display size used when reading a document. Between the E Ink display and the roller wheel cursor track, it’s quite easy and usually intuitive to figure out how to navigate around, but the slow page refresh is a significant problem that severely taxes navigation speed, as every menu presented involves a flash and a pause.
If your thinking of purchasing a Kindle, but are still unsure then you might want to check this review out, the review answers many questions about the Kindle device, Kindle accessories, the service and what Kindle is like to use every day.
Source: AppleInsider Unboxing Pictures
Source: Review: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5
Welcome to the second instalment of Sunday Night Links! Every Sunday night we will bring you Kindle links from around the web. Compiled form blogs, magazines, main stream media and other sources, we hope this link list will give you a definitive overview of what’s new regarding Kindle and what the ever growing Kindle community is talking about.
Kindle Crashed, No One at Customer Support? – Amazon.com Kindle Customer Discussions Forum
Can e-books finally take over their printed counterparts? – Today Publishing
Andy Ihnatko is Amazon’s Worst Nightmare – David Dougan
Mitchell Unboxes the Kindle and Complains about it! – Youtube
Kindle Unboxing Gallery – Gearlive
Kindle Self-Publishing – zuleikhajami @ livejournal
Don’t let DRM get between you and a good book – semabooks
Anyone find an aftermarket case for the Kindle – Google Groups
Kindle: Those Ubiquitous Page Control Buttons – The Kindle Reader
Get Kindle format books by trading in Adobe titles? Or Mobi or others? – Teleread
Another Perspective on the Kindle – Law School Innovation
The guys over at Macworld.com have reviewed the Kindle and they deliver a shocking verdict… it is revolutionary!
For those out there who are lucky enough to own a Kindle, it’s not really that surprising of a conclusion. It has literally changed the way we will consume our content in the future. All you have to do is read the many hundreds of blog posts about Kindle praising it and commenting on how it is the future, yet it has consistently been shunned by the main stream media as a gimmick or just an expensive toy. That is until someone actually goes out and review the thing and find out it is pretty darn good!
So lets just skim over some of the points made in the Macworld article on why Amazon’s Kindle will be a success.
1. Some Kindle owners will buy one to replace their paper books and magazines.
2. Fast, free broadly distributed wireless.
3. No PC required.
4. Option to sync up to a PC and manage your books from anywhere in the world.
5. $9.99 price tag for e-books which means you can buy more books.
6. Access Amazon.com and the Web to search Wikipedia via it’s free wireless connection.
7. Access to an experimental and free service called Kindle NowNow
8. Subscribe to RSS feeds.
9. Morning papers delivered before to your Kindle you wake up
10. Free PDF-to-Word converter.
If you want to read the full article then you can head over to Macworld.com and have a read.
Welcome to the first instalment of Sunday Night Links! As the week draws to a close, every Sunday night we will bring you Kindle links from around the web. Compiled form blogs, magazines, main stream media and other sources, we hope this link list will give you a definitive overview of what’s new regarding Kindle and what the community is talking about.
15 Things I Just Learned About the Amazon Kindle – BoingBoing
The PR Revolution Amazon’s Kindle May Be Bringing – Influential Marketing Blog
Kindle Gaming? The Hidden Game – Kindle Reader
Amazon Kindle Real-Life Review (Verdict: Lightweight, Long Lasting and Easy to Grip… In Bed) – Gizmodo
Which eBook Reader is the Best? – Slashdot
10 Lessons in Innovation from Amazon’s Kindle – onmoneymaking.com
Kindle can light up your life – Chicago Sun Times
And finally on a more festive note, Merry Christmas to all our readers! So here is an amusing video for you to watch…
It appears that things are not well over at AllThingsD. Walt Mossberg, who is the principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, reviewed Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader last month. Now this was surprising slow out of the gate for Mossberg so what happened? First lets see what Walt had to say about this Amazon Kindle first.
Mossberg in his review called the Kindle “mediocre” and “marred by annoying flaws” he even goes as far as saying “It is bigger and clunkier to use than the Sony Reader, whose second version has just come out at $300″. In his video review he also says there are too many flaws to list. You can watch the video of Walt Mossberg’s review of the Amazon Kindle at the end of this post. However he does also say in his review that Amazon hit the nail on the head with the shopping experience, which is hardly surprising seeing as Amazon.com is the largest bookstore in the world. All in all its seems that Mossberg is impressed with the idea and the online shopping expirience Amazon have created, but is not impressed by the device itself saying it is too big and clunky.
However, recently news came out from another tech columnist that Mossberg “was only interested in reviewing it if he could be first. When Steven Levy got it first Walt threw a tantrum.”. Wow, Steven Levy is a Newsweek tech reviewer who reviewed the Kindle a whole week before Walt. Steven Levy and David Pogue of the New York Times (Who was also amongst the first to review the iPhone) both got exclusive reviews, they also happened to gave the Kindle glowing reviews.
If that doesn’t make you wonder where his mind was at the time of the review, Mossberg also gives three iPod shout-outs in the first two paragraphs, too bad it wants a review for the iPod. C’mon Walt, we know you are getting old, but try to focus on the job in hand!
As promised, here is the video review;