I finally pulled the trigger on a Kindle upgrade (wifi with special offers version.) I finally realized that I’ve used a Kindle for at least 30 minutes a day pretty much every day for the last 4 years, so I would probably get some use out of a new one. Going from the second generation Kindle to the second gen Kindle Paperwhite was a massive leap. Some of the changes have been around for a long time, but here’s a list of things that I’ve noticed and enjoyed about the device design:
- Backlight – The backlight is great, especially since most of my reading happens in bed after Tyla falls asleep. It’s better than a tablet or a computer because the text you’re reading is still physically there but now there is light around it to let you see what you’re reading. The light is completely adjustable, but if it ends up causing eye strain, I can still drop back to the old method of a book light.
- Contrast ratio – Even without the backlight turned on to make the background whiter, the text is a lot darker and the background is a lot lighter.
- Speed – Changing screens, opening books, opening menus, and flipping pages is all significantly faster than before.
- Touch screen – I thought I would hate this but it actually works pretty well because the Kindle is so much quicker. The only downside is that to turn a page your thumb has to cross over onto the screen instead of just staying on the side where you’re holding the book. If I could design my perfect device, I’d probably drop the physical keyboard but keep the physical page turn buttons.
- Battery life – This one isn’t really fair since the battery on my old Kindle had been through a lot of power cycles, but Amazon claims this new one will go two months between charges even with the backlight on!
The physical device changes are great, but the software changes are incredible! The first devices were about replicating the experience of a paper book, but now they’re taking advantage of their platform and doing things that books could never do.
- Wikipedia – Not only can I get dictionary definitions for words, but I can also look things up on Wikipedia. And both of those show up in a flyout instead of changing to an entirely different screen.
- Vocabulary builder – Anytime you look up a word, it goes into the Vocabulary Builder app. You can go back and quick yourself to see if you’re actually learning anything. Words can be removed once you decide you’ve mastered them.
- XRay – This feature probably would have convinced me to keep reading Game of Thrones. You can highlight a character in the book and then quickly see everywhere in the book that they appear, seeing passages where they are mentioned to remind you who they are.
- Pages/Locations – Even after four years, I never got the hang of locations. Having 300 locations left to the end of a chapter doesn’t really register, but now I can finally switch to page numbers. The numbers correspond to a printed copy of the book so you might not actually increment the page number when you flip the page on your ebook. But still, if I have 8 pages left, I know roughly what that means.
- Scan forward/backward – You can quickly bring up an overlay and flip ahead or backwards without actually changing your place in the book. It’s a nice way to navigate to quickly answer something you forgot or to find the next good stopping point.
- Minutes remaining – I saved my favorite feature for last. Based on how quickly you’ve been reading, it predicts how many minutes you have left until you hit the end of a chapter! This feature alone is almost worth the price of a new device.
All in all, I’m thrilled with the new Paperwhite. Other e-readers have come and gone, but Amazon has a winner on their hands.