The New Kindle Paperwhite Review – My Adventures in E Ink Land

Khamosh Pathak

Kindle

Kindle is one of the best selling ebook readers available in the market right now. Amazon won’t tell us exactly how many units it sells but safe to say, it’s a lot.

I’m not new to ebook readers. I successfully completed my goal of reading 52 books in 2012 thanks to Nook Simple Touch. So when it comes to ebook readers, I know my stuff. But 2012 was a different time, the playing field was leveled back then, with Nook offering similar hardware at a lower price. So, it came down to ecosystem, and Nook, with its support for ePub, won.

This time it was different. After Apple, Amazon is the only company to successfully trap me in their walled garden. Yes, I gave in but just as I jailbreak my iPhone to add features Cupertino wouldn’t approve of, I’ve found ways to do a lot more with Kindle than what’s advertised. I read my personal collection of ebooks on it, heck I read articles from the web on it. Read on to know all about the new Kindle Paperwhite and my adventures with it.

It’s All About The Ecosystem

A Kindle Paperwhite is just as much about the Kindle ecosystem – if not more – as it is about the hardware. You have over 2 million books at your disposal and the prices are really cheap. Especially in countries like India (where I live) where Amazon is trying so hard to enter the space, it’s pricing its books on par or lower than the paperback books.

Kindle Library

Paperback books in India are really cheap. Prices hover around $2 for local books to $5 for imported talents. When compared to $15-20 asking price for new releases overseas, this seems like the bargain of the century. (Robin Hood tip: You can avail the same low price by changing your location to India from the settings from Amazon’s website).

The Screen

It’s a good thing Paperwhite display is backlit, because boy is it dull. It might be my weary eyes but the the screen in itself is not that stellar, gravitating more towards a decades old book feel than freshly minted paper.

Kindle

But the great thing about Paperwhite’s backlit display is that you can control how bright you want to go. It’s not an on/off switch, there are 24 levels between them. In my personal experience, somewhere between 6-10 is the sweet spot, depending on where you are.

Thanks to the dullness of the screen, I find myself leaving the display on 6 at all times.

That Body

Kindle Back

Kindle Paperwhite is draped by a soft touch body. If you have big hands, you can completely grip the device, end to end, but of course, that’s not really necessary.

Kindle Paperwhite’s bezels are ample and I didn’t find my fingers skipping and ending up on the screen (like the Nook). Good job there, Amazon.

If there’s one fatal flaw in its design, it’s the ill placed power button. It sits in the bottom of the screen, not dead in the center but a bit to the right.

Not only is it hard to reach but it means Kindle won’t stand up straight on its own because the button is always protruding from the bottom. If you like to read books with your device propped up, this minor design flaw can turn into a major inconvenience.

Truly Amazing Features

Paperwhite comes with Goodreads built right in. You can edit your shelves and read reviews right from your Kindle. There’s also the built-in vocabulary tool that stores all the definitions you look up, and provides you with flash cards so you can test your memory.

Sharing

There are some neat sharing features as well, where you can share a highlight to Facebook and Twitter from the book itself. I talk about all of this and a lot more in detail in my post about killer Kindle Paperwhite features.

Another great feature that I appreciate every time I read a book is the Collections feature. Basically, you can make a collection of different ebooks and it will stay on top of your reading list. Right now, I have a collection of 4 books I’m currently reading. This allows me to jump directly to one of those books easily, without sorting through other hundred or so ebooks and periodicals.

Platform And Content Delivery

You don’t buy a Kindle just for the soft touch body and the sharp screen. You buy it for the platform.

Embarking on some extreme generalization, if you buy a Kindle, you are one of two people:

  • You want an easy way to buy and read ebooks, meaning you’ll be buying books from Amazon Kindle store and reading it on Kindle Paperwhite.
  • You have a long history with ebook readers and have amassed a collection of ebooks in ePub or PDF format. You want a device that will let your read your collection and make it easy to buy new stuff.

Thankfully, Kindle Paperwhite satisfies both. The first use is dead simple, buy any book from the Kindle store and presto, it will show up on Paperwhite.

I’m Going On An Adventure!

The second one (my use case) takes some workarounds but it is totally worth it. No, Paperwhite doesn’t support ePub but you can use something like Calibre to convert and sync any DRM free ePub or PDF book into Mobi format (Kindle format, that is).

rticles from the Web on Kindle
Articles from the web on Kindle

Not just that, Kindle is the only device right now that will let you send articles from the web directly to your Paperwhite, formatted for your device, all the ads and unnecessary stuff removed – just the text and header images (as seen in the image above). Reading long-form articles in this fashion is true bliss.

This system was already working well for me. So I decided to see if I could push it. Instapaper allowed me to send a digest of my unread articles automatically to Kindle at the time I specified. This happened every night. I’d save interesting articles to Instapaper all day, and when I picked up Kindle at the end of the day, it was all there.

If you want to do any of this or all of this, Kindle Paperwhite is your only option right now.

How Do You Read?

So, I told you about my adventures with this seemingly simple yet astoundingly powerful device. Now it’s your turn. Tell me something I missed or share some advice about ebooks or even about life itself. I’d love to read it.

Also See
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