My gains and losses with the Kindle Paperwhite

I was only mildly curious about the added functionality of the new Kindle Paperwhite as I was happy enough with my Kindle Keyboard, that came encased in a rugged cover with an in-built reading light. The Paperwhite, however, came as a gift from the husband a few weeks ago and–after some weeks of use–removed all doubts about the prudence of owning it.  I’m now ready to share the pros and cons of this upgrade.

My Gains…

+The illuminated screen is very helpful. The Paperwhite is brightly lit IMG_3860up most of the time, allowing me to vary its brightness just by touching a symbol. I’m happy that I don’t have to worry about breaking the cover light of the old Kindle while working it constantly. Reading in the sun too continues to be as comfortable as with the old e-ink Kindle. The light is almost evenly spread on the screen, and I haven’t felt the effect of 4 separate LEDs at the bottom to be a problem as some users have noted.

+Touch screen is wonderfully responsive. The promised capacitive screen is actually sensitive to gentle swipes or simple touches. The 4 page-turning buttons have disappeared and I’m not missing them one bit as just a simple touch of the thumb on the right or left side of the screen turns the page. Highlighting of text is equally easy by dragging the finger from a word through several lines. Most of all though, I love the idea of dictionary becoming easier to use as a simple ‘holding’ of a word invokes its definition. Closing an open window is as easy as touching the screen outside the window.  Altogether, I’d say, the actions required are intuitive and have meant minimum self-training for me.

+The smart cover works smartly. The $10 cover puts the device to sleep on shutting and wakes it up with a minor flash on opening it. No fiddling of small slider switches necessary now, and thanks to the cover, using the device has got closer in experience to that of a physical book.

+Multiple typefaces nice to have. Choosing one of the 6 fonts and varying the text size or spacing is all so easily managed with the tap of a finger that I’ve been changing the look and feel of a book in keeping with its ‘seriousness.’

+Cover view is another plus. The choice of Cover or List views is another thoughtful feature as the art work of books in the Cover view makes them appear more inviting.

+Long enough battery charge. I used the device for a whole month on a single charge on an average use of 2-3 hours/day. As earlier, I used the Wi-Fi only when I had to sync and pick up an emailed book. So it’s confirmed that the lit up screen doesn’t sap the battery as I’d initially feared.

New but do I care…

! Time to read. The new feature of an estimated time left to finish the ongoing chapter/book is still to seem useful to me. I read multiple books at the same time so the suggested estimate is just that, an estimate based on some algorithm but not my actual pace of reading text in general.

! X-ray info. The device is supposed to provide the bare bone details on a book but I still have to test out the importance of such data as for all the books I’ve opened, I’ve found the X-ray feature to be greyed out.

{Update: Found the x-ray feature working on a recent purchase. It gives data on the occurrence of some keywords and character names through the book and separately by chapters.  What may prove to be helpful, when one is researching or reviewing a read, is that on tapping, each keyword gives its background note from Wikipedia and 3 lines of text where it occurs in the book. This is additional reference help that may charm some readers and prove useful in situations of need.}

The insignificant drops…

! Physical keyboard is not needed. Yes, increasingly I find that I continue to highlight loads of text to commit to ‘my clippings’ but I do not type notes very regularly any more. Which is to say that I don’t need to carry the extra weight of a physical keyboard in my hand. The screen based keyboard is easy enough to use for those rare notes.

! Text to speech has gone. Yes, it’s gone and I’m fine with it. Initially, I was highly enamored with the talking Kindle but saw that I hardly enjoyed listening to a digitized voice. Even during a drive, I prefer to think about a book than strain my ear to catch garbled words.

! No speaker means no music. I never did listen to any music on the Kindle. The device has been strictly for reading books.

! 4 GB to 2 GB. Currently, I have 82 books on the Paperwhite, and with Caliber to manage my ebook library and Amazon purchases supposedly intact in the cloud, I’m fine with the reduced space.

Losses to moan about…

Random pictures as screensavers. I used to like the screensavers of author images on the earlier Kindle. So many names became faces to me only through those screensavers. The Paperwhite has non-descript patterns as its screensavers. A loss I’d feel for times to come.

No power adapter. While I have an adapter from the earlier Kindle, for the device to come with just a USB cable isn’t helpful as many old school readers don’t travel with their laptops. They would need to buy a USB adapter separately.

…so altogether many more gains than losses, don’t you agree? 🙂

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