Monday, January 7, 2013

Kindle PaperWhite - First Impressions

My previous post referenced the untimely demise of my lil' buddy, aka my 2nd generation Kindle.  I've been a fan of these devices since the original Kindle first made an appearance, and while I don't consider a tablet to be a necessary device in my life (I have yet to own an iPad, and the sun continues to rise), I can't picture my life without an eReader device.  It's not that I'm an avid reader, I certainly don't consider myself one, it's that when I want to read, I want to be ready and able to do so.

The largest book I ever read was Einstein: His Life and Universe, topping out at 704 pages.  I remember enjoying this book, the Valentine's Day I received it as a gift, the summer vacation when I finally had a chance to finish it, and all the curses I said when I had to find a way to pack that book along with so many other items into the carrying case of my choosing.  In addition, there's always the concern.. what if I don't want to read this while I'm away?   Books of that magnitude make you consider all your options, and whether or not you can physically fit another book or two on your travels.

As you can see above, I'm a fan of the Kindle because of it's technical capabilities.  I enjoy being able to research what book(s) I want to read next and then purchase them when able.. not having to time it with a visit to a bookstore, or wait for it to arrive in a few days after purchasing it online.  As also mentioned above (via my iPad reference), Im not a fan of technology for technologies sake.  MP3 players are cool, but don't buy it unless you think you'll use it.  So, I didn't want to buy a newer Kindle (or other eReader for that matter) over the last 3 years until I saw a need to do so.  While the death of my 2nd Gen Kindle was the cause of my purchase, I had anticipated on making the purchase of the PaperWhite sooner or later.. more than anything I didn't want to make the purchase til after Christmas, should Santa think I was good enough this past year to receive it in my stocking.

So what's the verdict?  Well, I had a few days to enjoy my purchase, and I am very, very happy.  The Internet is full of reviews talking about how 7.5 ounces is a little heavy.. compared to what?  Have we ever compared the quality of a book due to it's weight?  Secondly, as mentioned above, my previous Kindle was a 2nd Gen model, so that had some weight to it, so comparatively speaking, my PaperWhite is lighter than my previous model.  The backlighting of the text is done very, very well.  The "lightguide" does a very good job on evenly spreading the light across the whole page, rather it being cast down like a beacon from the heavens.  Unlike the nit-picking of the weight of the device, I find this feature to be terribly important.  If the light was an attachment on the device, you can atleast physically move the light source to illuminate the important part of the screen, but with a built in device, you really want this to work as expected, which the guide does.

With upgrading to this device, I also had to move away from having the dedicated buttons on the side of the device, and instead rely on a "swipe" or "touch" feature to browse pages.  All-in-all, it's not really a big deal.  Would dedicated buttons be better?  I suppose, but I can definately live without them.  The device holds in your hand pretty well, so unless you have unusally small thumbs (my condolences for my loyal readers who have small thumbs), tapping the left or right area of the screen is pretty darn simple.  Plus, when you look at the form factor of the original Kindle, and what the device looks like now, I have to believe Amazon removed the dedicated buttons for a particular reason.. mainly that they're unnecessary with a full touch screen. 

Finally, there is a large improvement with the screen "refresh" when switching from page to page.  The older model was slower.. and that never bothered me, but now having a device that is more responsive to page turns is certainly welcome. 

So do I have any gripes?  Well.. I do wish there was atleast an audio port to listen to music.  I never needed a dedicated music player on the Kindle in the past, but it was always nice to have in those rare circumstances that I didn't have my MP3 player on me, but needed to drown out some noise while reading.  The "Experimental Browser" is also kind of worthless at this point.  Even though it's marked experimental (setting the bar kind of low), browsing the web in a black and white, limited refresh mode makes America Online\Prodigy dial-up seem more technically advanced.  However, these are both gripes about things that the device is not really intended for.  Want to read and listen to music and browse the web all in a handheld device.. go and grab a tablet.. the reading experience isn't the same, but you can fill your basket with those other eggs!

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