A quantum leap.
Clearly my relationship with the Kindle is one where masochism has the upper hand. I returned my Kindle 2, disappointed with the poor display contrast in room lighting. Ever hopeful, I bought the Kindle 4 with like results. Sold. And both were cursed with the worst keyboard since the IBM PC Jr. Remember that? Chiclet keys which felt like Chiclets.
So when the Paperwhite was announced, ever eager for some more self-inflicted pain, I ordered one and have now been using it for a day. $120.
The same warnings apply. Even though the Paperwhite uses a responsive touch screen – no more chiclets – and is the worst possible device for surfing the web, it benefits from a technological quantum leap which might just make this a keeper for avid readers.
Let me explain. The key test, conducted while I write this, is to sit outside as the day transitions from bright to dusk to dark and seeing if you can still …. see. For the first time, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. Because this is the first eInk Kindle which has an illuminated display. At first I thought mine was faulty owing to the uneven illumination of the screen in the 3/4″ or so at the base, but a check of early reviews on Amazon confirmed that this is a design fault. “They all do that” as the car mechanic’s excuse has it. Amazon has yet to get the diffusion of the four LEDs at the base of the screen cracked. In poor light with the screen illumination turned up unevenness rears its head.
Is it a deal killer? No. The alternative with any earlier eInk Kindle is seeing nothing. Now you can read comfortably in dusk or dark and the illumination does its thing. Further, the capacitive touchscreen is very responsive. Touch is registered fast, almost as fast as an iDevice, even if screen refresh speed is so-so. This is no iPad or iPhone in that regard, but then you cannot read an iDevice display in sun. The Kindle excels in sun, as it always has and, finally, it is very easy to read in poor light or no light. So a touch of uneven lighting is a small price to pay. And why prefer it over the iPad? Because it weighs very little, slips into the rear pocket of your Levi 501 button-fly jeans and makes reading in any light not only possible but a pleasure. And it remains throwaway cheap. Fonts, font size and line spacing are all easily adjusted. I find that a serif font, like Palatino, is optimal.
Battery life? No data yet but I find it hard to believe Amazon’s claims of ’8 weeks even with the light on’. But it’s obviously a good deal more than the 7-10 hours of an iPad.
If you don’t need color, don’t need to surf, like to read in any light and want something you will not hurt about if it’s stolen or broken, the Paperwhite might just be the thing.
Paperwhite on maximum backlight, iPad1 on medium, in a poorly lit room.
Battery Life and recharging: Amazon’s fine print on battery life could hardly be more deceitful. 8 weeks my rear. Just read the fine print below:
I would guesstimate that translates to one week, reading 1-2 hours a day with the backlight on maximum, which is where you need it indoors. I estimate a full recharge from a low power USB socket takes 4-6 hours, less with a higher current socket as found on the 2012 MacBook Air I also use.