Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite e-reader
The Kindle Paperwhite is selling like hotcakes!!!  This seems to be the Kindle to beat.

Just like the Kindle Keyboard it replaced, it comes in 3G or not 3G, ‘special offers’ and ‘no special offers’ versions.  I’ll go into the differences between those below so you don’t have to keep flicking backwards and forwards between pages to find out the details!

 

So, what’s special about the Kindle Paperwhite?

Well, the big thing, and most obvious, is that Amazon have added a touch screen.  Where in the past there have been buttons on the sides of the Kindle to turn pages, and a keyboard at the bottom to allow you to type, here it’s all done via the screen.  Because they’ve been able to get rid of the buttons they’ve managed to make the Kindle smaller, without loosing any of that 6″ screen.  (One major advantage of the Kindle Touch over other touch screen devices is that because the Kindle Touch features a non-shiny screen for easy readability, it also means that fingermarks show up less!  This is especially important if you have small people (aka children) using your device!).

The screen still features Amazon’s eInk display so it’s easy to read inside and outside, even at the beach in strong sunlight(and the screen is not back-lit so it’s perfect for taking on holiday with you), plus they’ve increased the resolution of the screen to a whopping 300ppi! This means that it’s even nicer to read than previous Kindles, and blows paperback novels out of the water.

 

The Size

The size of the Kindle Touch is much smaller than the original Kindles, and is smaller than the Kindles featuring keyboards, though it’s ever so slightly bigger than the Kindle Wi-Fi.  It measurers 6.7″ high by4.6″ in width with a depth of just 0.36″, just about the size of a paper back book (though remember, the Kindle can hold about 3,000 books…imagine putting that lot in your pocket!).

 

The Weight

Ok, weight is going to be important if you are carrying the Kindle around in either your pocket or your purse or bag… and they’ve managed to get that down to a lightweight 7.2 ounces so you won’t end up with a bad back!

 

The battery

I guess the battery is the next thing of importance.  Amazon states that the battery life is measured in weeks, most people I’ve spoken to seem to get somewhere between 4 to 6 weeks of average reading between charges.  That’s down from the months that the Kindle Keyboard used to get, but that’s still pretty good and means you can take your Kindle Paperwhite on holiday without having to lug chargers and power adapters around with you. (Just remember though to keep your WiFi turned off unless you are actually using it to download books, or search for your next good read as it adds to the battery draining).

For my own experience with the battery, I must first admit, I read for much more than half an hour a day but then I’m not a big fan of TV.  For those commuters amongst you I would imagine you’d probably end up using it for more than half an hour a day too.  So, let’s get down to basics here…

My aim with my Kindle was to be able to read it when I wanted without having it beep at me telling me I needed to recharge it….could this be done?

Looking at it logically, if I were to read for half an hour a day, for 4 weeks (30 days roughly, the minimum that Amazon reckons the battery will last) that would give me at least 15 hours of reading time.  When I was commuting, I used to travel for an hour in the morning, another hour in the evening, and then I’d want to read for about half an hour before bed…so that would work out to 2 and a half hours a day (Mon-Fri, with at least a half hour Saturday & Sunday).  I figured that would still allow me to read my Kindle all week without needing to recharge, so I would just plug it in at the weekend.

Admittedly this is all worked out with the caveat of having the WiFi switched off, but then I didn’t have a WiFi connection on the train so I wasn’t missing out on anything!  The only time I ever use the WiFi connection is to download a new book so it’s not something that I need on all the time (therefore why use up battery on it!).

I hope I haven’t scared you into thinking that the battery isn’t powerful enough.  I have to say that I have never had issues with running out of battery.  When the battery gets low the Kindle displays a warning message which you can dismiss and carry on reading.  When I’ve finished that session of reading I just plug in my Kindle for about half an hour and off I go again.

Just for the record Amazon states that the Kindle takes 3 hours to charge, though I’ve never experienced this…it’s never taken any longer than an hour for me to get it to register as fully charged, I assume that’s because it’s never charging from completely empty (even when it was brand new it was charged…those kind people at Amazon understand the way I work and it came fully charged straight out of the box…no annoying wait for the battery to charge when I wanted to play with my new toy!!!).

 

How do I get my books?

Ok, on most places you’ll see this bit talked about as ‘Connectivity’.  The Kindle Paperwhite comes with 2 options, Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G.  What does this mean for the Kindle owner?

In order to get your books you need to somehow get Amazon talking to your Kindle.  This can be done in three different ways:

  • 3G
  • Wifi
  • Cable connected to your computer

The easiest way is using 3G.  With 3G you are permanently attached to the mobile phone network (for free! forever!!!).  Therefore, no matter where you are, as long as you have access to a 3G mobile network you can download books and games to your Kindle.  If for some reason you can’t access the 3G network e.g. you’re on the subway, then the 3G network automatically reconnects once your Kindle finds it again.

The second easiest way is using a Wi-Fi network.  Lots of people now have Wi-Fi networks set up in their offices and even in their homes.  There’s also free Wi-Fi networks popping up all over the place, from Starbucks to MacDonalds, libraries, public buildings, restaurants even some shops have them.  So, even if you don’t have access to a Wi-Fi network in your own home or workplace, you may still be able to get by by going for the odd coffee everytime you want to download a new book!!

The third way is via a computer.  Every Kindle sold comes with a cable that allows you to connect your Kindle to a computer for charging purposes (either a PC or Mac…it doesn’t matter).  The other way to put books onto your Kindle is to ‘drag’ them there!  When you connect your Kindle to your computer, your computer just sees your Kindle as an ‘external storage device’.  You can download your ebooks from Amazon, store them on your computer and then click and drag them to your connected Kindle.  This is the way you would get non-Amazon stuff on your Kindle too…it’s really easy to do and though it’s not as swizzy as Whispersync, you don’t need to be a techie to do it!

One thing to note though, according to many people I’ve spoken with, you can’t ‘surf the web’ on 3G…that facility is there only to communicate with Amazon, so you can visit their bookstore and download your books, but if you wan’t to surf other web pages then you need to have a connection to a Wi-Fi network.  (I haven’t seen anything on Amazon stating this in so many words, but this is what I hear on the grapevine and I wanted to warn you).

 

Other Choices Available

If you go for a Kindle Paperwhite, not only do you need to choose whether to go for the Wi-Fi or the Wi-fi & 3G, you need to choose whether to the special offer sponsored version or the ad-free version.

I’ll go into a bit more detail for you…

Special Offers

In order to offer customers the maximum number of choices available and to keep the cost of the Kindle as low as possible, Amazon has brought out the special offers version.    Personally, I think this is a great offer to keep the cost of the Kindle down, and although mine doesn’t do it I have looked on Amazon to see if I can get the special offers screensaver (unfortunately you can’t, once you’ve paid full price you can’t get the ads!).

Amazon say the Special Offers version of it’s Kindle allows you to ‘Receive special offers and sponsored screensavers that display on the Kindle Keyboard screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen—they don’t interrupt reading’.  This sounds like a benefit to me, and it subsidizes the cost of your Kindle!

One advantage of receiving the special offers direct to your Kindle is that it’s a real pain trying to find the special offers on the Amazon site if you don’t already have a link!  Amazon bury their offers and freebies way down in the depths of their site which means that unless you want to spend hours looking for them on the off-chance there might be something you want, you just end up giving up!  Having the offers displayed on your Kindle sounds great to me…especially when you can just click on the link from your Kindle to take you straight to the Amazon store (providing you’re attached to a Wi-Fi network of course) to make your purchase!

This also means that if you went for the Special Offers version, it might well bring it into the price range you’d be willing to spend on someone for a gift…I’m sure anyone would be thrilled to receive a Kindle for Christmas!

If you do decide to go for the Special Offers version, but then get fed up with the ads, you can pay Amazon to ‘upgrade’ your Kindle which will remove the ads for you forever…you don’t have to buy a completely new Kindle!

 

Games and Apps

For someone that’s interested in playing games as well as reading books, the Kindle Touch could be the one for you.  Personally, I think that having the touchscreen would make it easier to play games, rather than trying to navigate around the screen with the little 5-way controller that the Kindle Keyboard has, although if you’re mainly planning on playing word games I can’t say I’ve encountered any problems (and even that’s got to be a lot easier that the Kindle Wi-Fi version with the pop-up screen that you move from letter to letter with the 5-way controller!).  At the moment, the games are mainly word based like Scrabble or word searches, anagram games and such like, but more and more apps are being written for the Kindle all the time. New releases out recently include diaries, calendars, note taking apps, puzzle games and even those role-based books that were really popular in the 80’s…fab on the Kindle!!!!

 

Sound

The Kindle Touch has sound capabilities which gives it another definite advantage over the Kindle Wi-Fi.  It comes with a 3.5mm audio jack (your standard headphones socket) so you can listen quietly to music files, or audio books.  There are also rear-mounted speakers if you prefer.

One thing that the Kindle Touch does have is a text to speech facility where it will ‘read’ books to you.  Bear in mind though that although this is very clever, and is a neat party trick, personally I don’t use this facility.  Because the computer is just ‘reading’ and doesn’t really understand what it’s saying there’s no inflection.  The voice doesn’t speed up during the exciting bits and there’s no emotion so it’s a bit bland.  That said though, the audio is great if you like listening to audio books and such like…it just gives the Kindle Touch another string to it’s bow.

 

Why would you go for the Kindle Touch instead of one of the others?

Well, when I got mine, the Touch and the basic Kindle didn’t exist, so I didn’t have a lot of choice!

If you are used to using a touch screen device like an iPhone or some other smart phone, then you’ll probably be more comfortable with a touch screen Kindle.  I guess the touch screen is just more intuitive to use, plus you get the same screen size, but an overall smaller/lighter device so it’s easier to carry around in your bag or briefcase.

Plus Points

Just about everything!  Amazon have created a really neat little e-reader (with the emphasis being on the little!) so it’s easy to carry in your purse or pocket.

You get a choice of Wi-Fi and/or 3G so you’ve got no problems getting hold of books/games and apps.

You still get all the advantages of the e-Ink

Fab battery life!

Great amount of storage…who could possibly want to carry around more than 3,000 books?!

 

Downsides

To be completely honest I can’t really think of anything, but I feel in order to provide a balanced review I need to pick something…so I’m going to go with the fact that Amazon don’t let you surf the web with the 3G (but considering that Amazon are supplying the 3G for free, forever, I don’t really think this is them being mean!  I think it’s just the compromize they’ve  come up with to enable them to keep it free…like I say, I feel like I needed to pick something and this was all I could come up with!).

 

If you’d like to check out more information about the Kindle Touch, check out the full details over at amazon.com

Buy Now

 

 

Do you have a Kindle Paperwhite?

I would love to hear your comments and opinions on the Kindle Touch.  Please use the contact form from the menu above and let me know your thoughts.

 

For the Techies…

(Thought I’d put this in here in for completeness sakes!)

Display Amazon’s 6″ diagonal most advanced E Ink multi-touch display, optimized with proprietary waveform and font technology, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 300 ppi, 16-level grayscale.
Size (in inches) 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (170 mm x 116 mm x 9 mm).
Weight 7.2 ounces (205 grams).
Built in light Yes, 4 LEDs
Page Turns Touchscreen
System Requirements None, because it’s wireless and doesn’t require a computer to download content.
On-device Storage Up to 3,000 books or 4 GB internal (approximately 3 GB available for user content).
Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Battery Life Amazon states ‘weeks’, but with normal use and WiFi switched off, lasts between 4-6 weeks on a single charge. Keep wireless always on and it lasts for about half that time. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store, downloading content, and web browsing (browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode).
Charge Time Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via the included USB 2.0 cable connected to a computer. U.S. power adapter sold separately. (Unofficially, my experience is it takes a lot less time than this).
Wi-Fi Connectivity Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not connect to WPA and WPA2 secured networks using 802.1X authentication methods; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
3G Connectivity HSDPA modem (3G) with a fallback to EDGE/GPRS; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide wireless coverage via AT&T’s 3G high-speed data network in the U.S. and partner networks outside of the U.S.
USB Port USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
Audio None
Content Formats Supported Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
Documentation Quick Start Guide (included in box); Kindle User’s Guide (pre-installed on device).
Warranty and Service 1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2-year Protection Plan available for U.S. customers sold separately.
Included in the Box Kindle wireless e-reader, USB 2.0 cable, and Quick Start Guide. Power adapter sold separately.