Amazon’s Kindle devices are the best eReaders hands down.
When I purchased my first iPad several years ago, one of the main reasons for buying it was so that I could read books on it. I had previously owned two versions of Nooks and decided that the iPad could serve several functions as well as being an eReader. Flash forward to just two days ago where I entered my local Best Buy and picked up the new Kindle Paperwhite. Why oh why would I plunk down over $119 for yet another device to manage and keep track of?
Because Amazon’s Kindle devices are the best eReaders hands down.
I love my iPad and I still do a lot a reading on it, especially with apps like Flipboard and my personal favorite, Zite. I have both Nook and Kindle apps loaded on it but unfortunately, they fall short for several reasons. For me, three main reasons drove me to purchase the Kindle Paperwhite.
The obvious is the strong glare that the iPad produces when reading in direct sunlight or near any bright light. This wasn’t a problem initially as I always read indoors. Recently however I’ve begun reading outdoors and this was nearly impossible to do. Reading by a window at a coffee shop or restaurant also proved to be equally frustrating.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I do a lot of reading at night, especially before falling asleep. Reading is a sure-fire way for me to get knocked out when I have insomnia. The problem was the actual light of the iPad caused some heavy eye strain. Turning down the brightness helped a little but in the end, it just started to bother me more and more. Reading was reduced to only 15-20 mins after my eyes got tired or watery.
Then there’s the whole battery issue on the iPad. The iPad is shared between my daughter and I. She spends a lot of time doing research on it but also has spent her fair share of time playing games (how many times can she upgrade that pet hotel of hers?). Because of this heavy usage, I found that I had to keep recharging the iPad often. Also, reading for several long minutes would suck away at precious battery time.
After seeing the recent TV commercials where customers raved about the new Kindle reader, I knew I had to take a look. Heading over to Amazon’s site, I read not only the specs and general info but I also read the reviews from customers. Aside from the few disgruntled customers who apparently got a bad batch of Kindles, for the most part all reviews were positive. Having made up my mind, I walked to a brick and mortar store to purchase it on the spot (I usually order from Amazon but in this case, I didn’t want to wait).
I opened the box to find three items: the device itself, a USB cable and a small “getting started” card. That’s it. Taking off the plastic covering, I turned on the Kindle and was greeted with a welcome screen and registration. After a quick tutorial, the device was ready to use. I connected to my wireless home network and I instantly saw the books that I had stored in Amazon’s cloud. It was all done in mere minutes!
On the device itself was a dictionary, a vocabulary building app and the user’s guide. My immediate impression on the Kindle Paperwhite was how small and light it was. It was thin and easy to hold in your hand. The texture of the device made it comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. The screen itself was incredibly non-glare and the light emitting from it was really cool and diffused. It was bright but not overly so. I immediately liked it.
Navigating the device was fairly simple. The tutorial does a great job of explaining it all. The screen is divided into three areas. Tapping at the top of the screen brings forth the standard toolbar. This toolbar allows you to go to your library, change the font and size of your text and adjust screen brightness among other things.
Tapping the left side of the screen takes you back to the previous page and the large area in the center allows you to tap to move your page forward. Swiping left and right does the same thing (as I found myself doing many times).
Tapping “Cloud” on the Kindle brought me to my books purchased form Amazon.com. I was able to download them in seconds. I was really impressed with the speed. I also have a lot of documents and free public domain books that I’ve uploaded to Amazon’s cloud (or you can use the supplied USB cable to load books directly to the Kindle). To do this, you’ll need their free and handy little app for the PC or Mac called Send to Kindle. It’s really easy to use.
Once installed, you can click and drag your document to the app and it will instantly upload it to Amazon’s cloud, appearing across all of your devices. I’ve been able to read books on my iPad app, iPhone app and now my Kindle reader seamlessly between devices, still keeping my bookmarks and notes across different platforms. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, this app is well worth having.
I started to then play with the Kindle, finding little things like a reading navigation toolbar that you can pull up by swiping up from the bottom. This little toolbar allows you to navigate a book by scrolling left or right and previewing pages of the book without leaving your current page. Also, on the bottom of one of the books I started to read gave me the time it would take to complete the current chapter.
I connected directly to Amazon’s Kindle Store with no issues and was able to peruse their vast collection of books, newspapers and magazines. You can purchase a 3G version of the Kindle Paperwhite (a little pricier) that allows you to connect to their store worldwide without wireless connectivity but I preferred the wi-fi version. Simply download your books before leaving for vacation and you should be fine. With 2 Gigs of onboard memory (less to be honest after formatting, more like 1.3 Gigs), you can store over 1,100 books on the device. This low storage has been criticized by many and I can identify with those complaints. My old Nook Color allowed me to add a micro-SD card on it to allow for additional storage.
But this Kindle is all about reading books and it does the job well. If wanted to load my very large PDF files and other documents, I would rather use my iPad to be honest. Storing 1,100 books is more than enough. You can always remove books from the device and keep them on Amazon’s cloud, no need to keep ALL of your library on your device.
No need to beg and plead with an 11-year old girl anymore.
The only thing missing was a case. Amazon sells leather covers for the Kindle Paperwhite in various colors. Luckily for me, Best Buy also carried them. At $39.99 they aren’t cheap but totally necessary. After figuring out how to insert the Kindle in it (not as easy as it looks on the diagram), the fit was tight. The cover has a magnetic clasp that assists in auto wake/sleep modes.
One gripe that I share with others is Amazon’s decision not to include an adapter to go along with the Kindle. The USB cable is used to transfer books directly to it but also serves to recharge it via computer. My daughter asked what if someone doesn’t have a computer, how would they be able to recharge their Kindle? I have no idea. One cannot readily assume that every household has a computer. Throwing in a USB adapter for FREE should’ve been a no-brainer. I believe they do sell one online, a clear attempt to milk more cash out of consumers. Those customers without computers will have to make this extra purchase.
Reading this Kindle is a pure delight as there’s absolutely NO glare whatsoever when reading outdoors or in bright rooms. When reading at night, this device is incredibly easy on my eyes and I have found that I’ve been reading for longer periods of time while in bed. As far as battery life, Amazon boasts up to 8 weeks of battery life when wi-fi is turned off. I have yet to test this. Another added benefit: I can now read my books while my daughter plays with the iPad. No need to beg and plead with an 11-year old girl anymore.
There are plenty of other features that come with the new Kindle Paperwhite; too numerous to write about. The user’s guide has everything you need to get started. If you’re in the market for an eReader, the Kindle Paperwhite is the way to go. I still read actual books by the way but I find myself reading more with an eReader. There was a recent poll conducted among readers and they’ve discovered that digital devices actually promote more reading. That’s great news!
Reading physical books or reading on eReaders is still reading and that’s surely a good thing.
** UPDATE **
Amazon is currently selling the 5w adapter for the Kindle Paperwhite for $19.99. What a ripoff.