Awaiting my return home yesterday afternoon was the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. So, immediately, I powered it up and began to put it through some paces. I reckon there are hordes of reviews and breakdowns proliferating all over the intrawebs but most all of these, even the high quality roundups, are primarily penned from a gadget geek tech wonderkind perspective. Laden with technical details and plentiful bits on the feature set (or missing/wanted features). But here I will give you the angle from one who reads a lot of books on his Kindle and is afflicted with minor eyesight issues.
Tell me all about the new and great improvements!
The major reason for you to upgrade is primarily the increased screen resolution and the new built-in light. Truly, the crisper text rendering and upgraded font palette are the wondrous advancements. The built-in light, thus far, seems only useful in the sense that a case with a clip-on light (or other reading light) is now unnecessary.
Page turns seem snappier and on most taps, invoking menus and other actions are executed swifter. Most, I say, because the device UX hiccups at infrequent bouts. But that experience could have been due to my queueing up hundreds of books for downloading from the Amazon cloud as I was setting up my device.
What don’t you like about it?
Here, I always encounter trepidation as if I am griping over assumed hindrances that I am just ignorant about a setting, feature, or potential resolution. For example, when first loading up with some books, I was dismayed that the “home” screen only showed 3 books, and that it took dozens and dozens of swipes to get to books at the bottom of the list. Until I discovered how to pop back into “list mode” and that by tapping the book list “page i of N” at the bottom of the list would let me easily specify a specific page number (or starting title string). On the Kindle Touch, this was an obvious pull down at the top of the list.
Unlike previous Kindles, there is no Home “hardware” button. So, to get to the home screen, you must always perform two taps — one at the top of the screen to invoke the menu header, and then a tap to the home icon. A regression of affairs and puzzling why this was removed. I understand that for many readers, this is a minor deal, as typically, the reading focus is one book at a time. But for someone who swaps books in and out frequently, depending on mood (and state of cognitive acuity), it is an extraneous affordance.
You need two taps to do just about anything other than advancing to the next (or previous) page. Even powering the device on now requires two presses — one for the power button, and then an obligatory swipe. I suppose Amazon desires more gaze time for the screensaver ad.
Most irksome though is the removal of a swipe mechanic that I relied heavily upon in using my Kindle Touch — swiping up/down to move forward/backward through book chapters. This was an incredibly useful means of navigating efficiently, especially in a number of works that include subheading links at the top of the chapter. Flipping through Bible books, for example, and quickly accessing a particular chapter verse. Or even ebooks engineered for more effective use of ereader navigation features (like indicated with the subheading links at the top of chapters).
Storage reduced to 2G (from 4G). For most, I admit, not a major concern. But I am one who might, within a year or two, eclipse a book total that can fit on one Kindle. I guess the Amazon Cloud is not optional then. And this might be an issue for non-US readers.
Any other annoyances?
The built-in light, when cranked up more than half way (there is a slider than goes from 1 to 24, with ‘-’ or ‘+’ to turn completely off/on) seems to splotch at the bottom of the screen in three spots. Was not as noticeable as when I first powered up the device, but it is irksome, nevertheless. Perhaps this might be a glitch confined to my unit (or a small population segment).
Other disappointments or missing feature set inclusions?
I simply cannot fathom how kludgy searching electronic text still is on the device. Search results should be generated instantaneously. And the painful nature of the results page (that shows 3 per screen) that invokes a laborious trek to actually land at the point you are looking for. There is a better way of doing this, or at least, user option settings to reduce to one line “with context” results.
It is 2012 and the “experimental browser” has not changed at all in the Kindle model progression. Not expecting a full featured browser, but capabilities on a touch screen similar to what Apple has produced on Safari for iOS would suffice. I should be able to read web site text and double tap on columnar site portions. And be able to zoom/pan and increase/decrease font size.
Do you recommend this product?
If you already own a Kindle Touch, I am hesitant to advocate purchasing. Yes, if having a built-in light is important. Or if you want to read your books in Futura or Helvetica (or Palatino or the other 3 fonts). If you are an older Kindle user, I would definitely take the plunge — the touchscreen provides for more fluid page flipping and way easier annotations and highlights.
Curious about the takes of anyone reading this who also received a Kindle Paperwhite yesterday (or today). Planning on buying? If you own one already, your verdict?