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Monday, February 09, 2015

Review - Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

I’ve had an Amazon Kindle for quite some time - almost 4 years.

When I first got it, I was a little apprehensive.  I love books.  I love the smell of fresh pages, and the tactile feel of holding the book.  I have always been a reader; with a broad range of genres.

I was concerned that I wouldn't have the connection that I love.  I worried that holding a piece of plastic would take away from the pleasure reading a book gives.

I was wrong.

However, this applies only to the Kindle device (and other specific e-reader) as the screens are designed to make reading easy and less of a strain.  Using the Kindle app on a tablet or laptop does not have the same “je ne sais quoi”!  The glare from a high definition screen or monitor makes it hard work, and less of a pleasure.

The Kindle itself offers a matt screen, which means it can be read in strong sunlight without glare.  It also means, like any other real book, it needs light to be able to see the words.  It’s not backlit, so is useless in the dark.

Roll forward a couple of years, and Amazon released the Paperwhite.

Similar in size, this has a touchscreen (for turning pages and accessing the menu and settings) and an adjustable backlight.  This means that books can be read in any light, at any time.

I upgraded to the Paperwhite during an offer period, and it was simplicity itself in setting it up.  Indeed, it arrived already assigned to my Amazon account, so all I needed to do was turn it on and login to the wi-fi.  My books were instantly available.

I set up my “collections”, which act like a folder system, organised however I like.  I have one for unread books, and the others are set up for authors, or genres.  You can add books to as many collections as you like.  Of course, once I've read a book; I remove it from the “unread” collection!

With Wi-Fi turned on, you can access the store, and if you’re a Prime member, there’s a wealth of books available to “borrow”.  Which means that you can read one book per month, for free, before returning it.  You don’t have to return it, but you can’t borrow another until you do.

There’s a whole host of settings you can adjust; from font size, to brightness and orientation. There’s also the built-in dictionary and the ability to find more about the characters in the books.#

With Wi-Fi switched off, the battery lasts a good few weeks (depending on the brightness setting) but this isn’t affected too much when it’s turned on.

The reading experience itself is quite pleasant.  As I mentioned earlier, the matt style screen means the pages can be read in any light condition, without the glare reflecting (and also not seeing myself reflected in the screen!)  

Whilst reading, it’s possible to see how far into a chapter you’ve gone, how much is left to read, and, this is quite clever, how long is left in the chapter or book - I guess based on how quickly you turn the page?  I’m not completely sure what algorithm is used to calculate this, but at least it’s possible to see if there’s enough time to read to the end of the chapter.

Of course, one of the major benefits of an e-reader, is the ability to carry numerous books with you.  This is a boon for students, who can have all their text and reference material in one place (and saves on heavy bags) but also for people like me, who may want a change from the current book, depending on mood.  Need something light and humerous - dive in and find a comedy.  Murder mystery - where’s the Agatha Christie section?  It also means that I can pre-purchase books and have them ready and available.

Whether an e-reader is right for you, depends on how much you read; but I can guarantee that once you use one, you’ll wonder how you managed without.

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