Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

From my column at the Washington Times Communities

WASHINGTON DC, November 16, 2012- After waiting for a month to get my back-ordered Kindle Paperwhite and using it every day for two weeks, I can honestly say that this is Amazon’s best Kindle yet.

I read a lot.  From fiction, to magazines, to biographies, I love to read.  As John Irving put it in The World According to Garp, I am a printed-word junkie.  I will literally read anything- except Fifty Shades of Grey, I have to draw the line somewhere.  I’ve had a Kindle since they came out and am a little ashamed to say that when I pull up my Amazon Account, it asks me if it should deliver the content to Kindles 1-6.  To be fair, most of my older Kindles have gone to friends and family who use them.

So why do I love the Paperwhite so much?  Let me start by enumerating what I love about Kindle in general and then move on to why I think that if you have always thought about getting a Kindle or already own an older model, an investment in the new Paperwhite may be good advice.

It is not an iPad or tablet

Most people that I talk to about my Kindle obsession usually answer, “well, I have an iPad or other tablet, and I hate reading on it.”  The first thing about Kindle is that it is nothing like an iPad; let me count the ways:

1.  Use: A Kindle (and this is a review of Paperwhite Kindle, not Kindle Fire) is just for reading.

2.  Weight: while the iPad weighs in at 1.44 lbs. (652 g), the Paperwhite weighs 7.5 oz. (213 grams).  This makes it easy to hold the Kindle in one hand for hours.

3.  Size: even though the difference in size is not huge (iPad: 9.5”x 7.31” x .37” ; Kindle Paperwhite: 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″), I found that it does make a difference.  I can throw my kindle in almost any purse and it even fits in a large coat pocket.

4.  Glare: My favorite thing about the Kindle is that you can read on the beach, in the middle of the day, and there is absolutely no glare, exactly like a printed book.

Features in all Kindles

Beyond the differences with the iPad, there are a few other features that I love, that come in every Kindle, not just the Paperwhite:

1.  Bookmark, highlight, and notes feature:  Kindle allows you to bookmark and highlight important pages and passages, as well as insert you own notes.  You can then pull up a list of notes and highlights in the menu option.

2.  Dictionary:  another of my favorite features on Kindle is the dictionary.  In my experience, when I come upon a word that I don’t understand, 80% of the time, I’ll just skip over it and deduce the meaning from context.  I am almost always too lazy or too caught up in my reading to stop, put the book down, and crack open my dictionary or look online.  On a Kindle, all you have to do is highlight a single word, and the definition pops up on the screen.  I can’t tell you how much my vocabulary has improved.

3.  3G: This is something that I have mixed feelings about.  On the old Kindles, both Wi-Fi and 3G came standard.  Now, you have to pay an additional $30-$60 when you buy your Kindle to get the 3G.  I think this is kind of greedy on Amazon’s part, since the only real use for the 3G is to buy books from the Kindle store.  However, 3G is great.  I travel a lot and sometimes my trips are months long.  I used to lug around a suitcase filled with books and then scour foreign newsstands in remote towns looking for something- anything– to read when I’d exhausted my stash.  3G changed all that.  Now I travel with my Kindle, no books, and download my favorite titles from anywhere in seconds.  You’ve got to love that!

4.  Subterfuge:  I’ll confess that I love to read trash.  However, sometimes I don’t like to advertise to the world the kind of trash that I’m reading by flashing the book cover- because I know I judge strangers by what they read.   Problem solved!  Nobody has to know of you secret love for Danielle Steel.

Paperwhite Additional Features 

There are three features that I love about the Paperwhite that are new or fairly to the Kindle family:

1.  Frontlight:

This was what Kindle was missing!  Now I can read my Kindle anywhere, without bothering anyone or keeping the light on all night when I’m trying to finish that novel that I just can’t put down.  This is a lifesaver on long flights or train rides.

2.  Reading speed calculator:

This is the coolest thing ever: when you start to read a book or magazine article, Kindle Paperwhite learns your reading speed and calculates how much time to the end of the book and current chapter (and tells you on the lower left margin).  How cool is that?  And even cooler, it continues to adjust as you read.

3.  X-ray: 

 some of the more recent older models have the x-ray feature.  Even though it only comes with certain books, the x-ray feature is fantastic.  X-ray is a subtext service that gives the reader information about the characters and locations on a certain page or in the entire book, identifying all the places where they appear in the book.

So if you love to read, anywhere and everywhere, the Kindle Paperwhite may be a nice addition to your Christmas list.

Read more: Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite | Washington Times Communities