Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kindle Paperwhite 3G Review: Finally a Worthy Successor to the Kindle 2

I will gladly admit that I've been a fan of ebook readers from the day the very first Kindle was announced. In fact, I've always been a collector of books and while I do prefer real books in hardcover or paperback form in my library at home, there just isn't anything that could possibly beat an ebook reader for the convenience of bringing several books with me on a trip or for the ability to read a book in bed under low-light conditions, or reading a couple of books on the beach on a sunny summer day, or buying a new book instantly online when I'm finished with the previous one.

So I was truly delighted when my new Kindle paperwhite 3G arrived today. I had always loved the original Kindle in 2007 and the Kindle 2 that I had bought in 2009, because both devices had an e-ink display that was easily viewable in bright daylight conditions as well as indoors. By contrast, I felt that the Kindle Fire was a big disappointment when it first came out. In fact, while I had bought one at that time, it ended up somewhere in a pile of unused electronic gadgets very quickly. It was neither good enough as a tablet computer to truly compete with the iPad, nor was the screen any advantage when reading a book, and the battery life was just too short. In fact, I kept reading my books either on the Kindle 2 (outdoors) or on the iPad (indoors) for the last couple of years.

Kindle paperwhite

But the new Kindle paperwhite changes all of that.

Returning to the concept of an e-ink display, the device is again fabulously suitable for daylight reading on the beach on a bright sunny day, yet it also has a subtly lit display that is perfect for low-light conditions and indoor reading at night. The device is extremely light and they got the form-factor just right. Getting rid of the physical keyboard from the Kindle 2 model and replacing it with a touch-screen helped to shrink the form factor considerably and makes reading books on the device that much more comfortable than reading them on an iPad. I cannot wait to see if the advertised battery life of 8 weeks really holds up in real-world reading and usage.

The font choices have been expanded and the high resolution of the display makes reading a real pleasure - even if you switch to a small font-size (if your eyes are still good). Alternatively, you can opt for a larger line spacing and bigger fonts if your eyes get tired more quickly.

As always, the device is directly linked to your Amazon.com account and you can download books form the cloud onto your device easily via the built-in Wi-Fi or free 3G networks. And in addition to highlighting paragraphs and adding notes for your own purposes, you can also share passages with friends via Twitter and Facebook integration. And you can continue to send PDF files and Word documents to a special device- and user-specific @kindle.com email address to read these on your Kindle.

However, I found it a bit disappointing that Amazon has once again failed to include support for ePub publications in their latest device, given that this open electronic book publishing format is fully supported by Adobe, Apple, and many other industry players.

Bottom-line: great form-factor, perfect screen resolution and readability in direct sunlight as well as low-light conditions due to advanced e-ink technology with backlight display. This will be a permanent travel companion for all my future trips.

P.S. I would recommend opting for the 3G model "without special offers". For just $20 more you can get rid of annoying advertising in the Kindle Store screen as well as the sleep-mode display. However, you can also buy the cheaper model first to see whether you find the ads annoying and then later pay $20 on your credit card to "upgrade" your device to get rid of them.

P.P.S. You may ask what is on my reading list on the new Kindle paperwhite? Presently I'm continuing "Chapterhouse: Dune" by Frank Herbert, which I had last read some 12-13 years ago and decided to re-read recently. In fact, I decided to re-read the entire Dune cycle this summer, and have now reached this book. Next I have "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand on my list, followed by some Neal Stephenson novels and "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham.


MJ Whitley said...

Once again, a thoughtful well written review by someone who actually tests implements and uses new technology. As an iPad user, one might ask, why bother with an E-Reader? Well, from your review it's clear to me that there is still room in the market for focused well developed application specific technology. A better mousetrap is still a better mousetrap.

Alexander Falk said...

For me it really depends on the location. If I'm on the plane traveling on business I will happily read books on my iPad and the same is true on the cozy reading chair in the library or living room. But outdoors - on the boat, on the beach, by the pool - the Kindle paperwhite screen is vastly superior in readability. And at night in bed the iPad is just too big and heavy - again the Kindle paperwhite has the edge in that scenario. So yes, there is room for both devices.