I had been using a second generation Kindle since we got it many years ago and didn’t really feel the need to upgrade. mainly due to the fact that the newer Kindles up till now didn’t really have anything that was too much different. The Paperwhite Kindle got my attention. This device promised that we could continue reading while sleeping amidst a pack of wolves, who would wake up and shred you to pieces, the moment that you disturbed them with the smallest amount of stray light. I am joking of course. Why would you want to read with wolves anyway?
A lot of people always ask why I would want to buy a Kindle when I have, within easy reach, an iPad and a Nexus 7. Generally, these people are not into reading as much as they claim to be. Kindles have a very specific purpose… Reading books. If you like reading books as much as my wife, the most comfortable device to do it on, not counting as actual book, is a Kindle. As you may have guessed by now, I am not even close to the voracious reader that my wife is. I am perfectly fine reading on my Nexus 7 (the iPad doesn’t make it to the list of devices that I use for reading books). Therefore while considering the family reading needs, the Kindle wins hands down.
When I got the Paperwhite, I had read up all that I could about it. I wasn’t really expecting to be surprised by anything. However, I was surprised by a few things. Features that you don’t know you need until someone gives them to you. To start with, the device’ weight works for and against it. The lightness of it makes you wonder if it would survive a fall from a table or similar misfortune. The device is built solidly. I actually tried twisting it a little and it stayed reassuringly unbending. The lightness also reassures that you can hold this up easily, in one hand, for long periods of time, while you continue to get drowsier and drowsier, while you read in bed. The lightness will also ensure that you do not wake up when the damn thing falls on your head when you do go to sleep.
The body of the Kindle is rubberized and ensure that it feels like it will stay in your hand, and actually does stay in your hand when put to the test. The only physical button on the device is the power button, which is now on the bottom of the device. Here lies the micro-USB port as well. Apart from these physical embellishments there is nothing on the device that can be played with or might be prone to damage. the lack of buttons alludes to the fact that the Kindle Paperwhite features a touch screen to help with the navigation. Of course, a touch Kindle has been available since 2011. For the usage that a touchscreen needs to provide on a device like this, it works fine.
The E-Ink display is as good as ever. Closest to a real book as it gets. The LED illumination is also very nice and provides an even and nicely distributed light. The light can be increased and decreased from the touch interface, but it cannot be switched off entirely. I feel that should have been an option considering that the E-ink display can be read fine during the day.
In terms of the functionality, it’s all very familiar. On first time use, a tutorial helps you understand where to touch to navigate the interface. I haven’t felt any disconnect with how things have been arranged on the screen. One of the newer things that I saw in the Kindle was X-Ray. This can be used to see where else a particular character appears in the book and you can navigate there and come back to where you left off once you have refreshed your memory. This will definitely make reading those long epics a lot easier. You can also share your progress and interesting passages using Goodreads which also connects to Facebook and Twitter.
There are other features that you can enjoy on the Kindle. There is an experimental browser that can open most sites in glorious grayscale and let you carry out basic browsing with out whipping out your phone or another tablet. there is also a vocabulary builder that you can add words to that you come across in the books that you are reading. Highlighting words brings up definitions and Wikipedia entries for your consideration. Highlighting phrases or sentences allows you to add notes to sections, share them, search the web for them and even translate them to another language.
There is one feature that I do miss, which was available even in my Kindles 2nd generation, is the ability to play audio files, music or books, from the device itself. These new Kindles do not have speaker of earphone jacks to allow you to do this. While I am yet to enjoy an audiobook of any type, I would have liked to have this functionality in the device.
A Kindle is the kind of device that really gets out of your way and lets you enjoy a book. With the Paperwhite, reading in the night is a very comfortable experience. Having read books using the Nexus 7 for quite some time, I wouldn’t mind using the paperwhite instead. Slim chance considering my wife’s reading prowess. One can only dream.