Amazon has officially set foot in the Indian market and recently introduced three devices – the Kindle Fire HD tablets and the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. The question that’s on everyone’s mind is whether you really need a dedicated e-reader device when you can read e-books on the tablets or even a smartphone? We got our hands on the Kindle Paperwhite and were curious to see how different the reading experience would be. Is it worth investing in an e-reader? Read on to find out.
E Ink is easier on the eyes compared to a tablet display
Display and build
The Paperwhite will impress you with its elegantly minimalist and curved edges in matte black finish. Its 6-inch capacitive touchscreen nestles within a plastic bezel. The rubberised back panel gives it a good grip, but it collects smudges quite easily. The front bezel is just wide enough to rest your fingers comfortably when holding the device. On the bottom panel, you will see a Kindle logo in white. The power button is conveniently located at the bottom, next to the micro-USB slot. Devoid of a keyboard and physical buttons, the Paperwhite sports a toned-down look when compared to the previous generation Kindle. At 222 grams, the Paperwhite is not too heavy, and its 169 x 117 x 9.1 mm dimension makes it highly portable. Using the Paperwhite singlehandedly doesn’t really pose a problem. In terms of memory, it features 2GB internal storage, out of which only 1.25GB is available for use.
Speaking about the features, we have to begin with the much-touted "built-in light" feature of the Paperwhite. Those struggling with add-on light on their Kindle will definitely appreciate this feature. The 4 LEDs are placed at the bottom of the screen and they splay light uniformly across the surface of the e-reader. You can adjust the amount of light, according to the ambience, using the slider that can be accessed by tapping the top-most portion of the screen. If you have used the older generation Kindle, then you will instantly notice the sharpness of text and images. Amazon has managed to bump up the screen resolution to 212 ppi, which is a massive improvement. This along with the increased contrast ratio works towards giving an experience of reading an actual book.
The evolution of Kindle
Amazon has also done away with the physical buttons, and the touch interface of the Paperwhite is similar to any smartphone UI. On the homescreen, you will see the menu bar on the top. It includes the buttons for home, back, light control, shop, search and settings. When reading a book, this menu can be accessed by tapping on the top-most portion of the screen. Additionally, a sub-menu will include options for changing font and quick navigation along with share and X-Ray options. At the bottom, it will display information like page number, estimated time left and the percentage indicating the reading progress.
Paperwhite, like the previous generation Kindle, provides useful features that add to the reading experience and are much appreciated, particularly by bibliophiles. You can choose from different fonts-types as well as font size; you can also set the line spacing and margins. While reading, if you stumble upon a word, then you can instantly look up its meaning and even get definition, additional information from Wikipedia and Shelfari. Also, if you come across a line or a paragraph that you would like to share with your friends, then you can easily do so, as Paperwhite allows you to link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The power button is located next to the micro-USB slot at the bottom
Time to Read, a new feature introduced with Paperwhite, is particularly useful. It will display the amount of time left to finish the chapter and even the book, which it determines based on your reading speed. So you can decide whether to doze off or continue reading. Another handy feature is the X-Ray, which will bring you passages from across the book that refer to important characters, places, topics etc.
From the settings, you can manage your device, set the Wi-Fi access points, set registered user, set passcode, reading options etc. For typing, you have the on-board QWERTY keyboard that you find on smartphones. The Paperwhite employs capacitive touch, so typing isn’t really the smoothest of experience. When it comes to turning the pages, you can either swipe or tap. To go back, you will have to swipe left or tap the left-most portion of the screen, whereas a right swipe will take you to the next page. What’s thoughtful is the fact that you can tap on the right two third of the screen in order to go to the next page. This will especially come in handy when if you are handling the device singlehandedly.
You can control the light using the slider
You cannot help but be impressed with the E-Ink display on the Paperwhite. The absence of glare allows you to read comfortably without straining your eyes. Further adding to the experience is the built-in light, which is a huge plus. Though it is suggested that you choose low setting for dark rooms and a high setting for brightly lit rooms, you can tweak it according to your comfort. You will face no issues whatsoever when reading under bright sunlight or even in a brightly lit room. But when reading in a dark room using the built-in light, you will notice dark spots at the bottom of the screen, which is distracting.
Another small niggle is the ghost effect that you will see as you turn the pages. You will be able to see the text from the previous page outlined on the current page. You can remedy this by opting to refresh the E-Ink display with every page turn. However, this could prove to be battery consuming. The page turning transition isn’t really smooth and will take some getting used to. Similarly, performing the swipe action and typing using its capacitive touchscreen will need little patience. Also, one feature that will be sorely missed is the text-to-speech option. On the other hand, accessing and using its many features, such as looking up the meaning of the word, adding notes, bookmarks, translations, sharing on social networking sites etc., is as smooth and easy as ever.
The rubberised back panel smudges quite easily
Books are downloaded in a matter of few seconds. You can select from a wide range of latest bestsellers, newspapers, magazines and even Kindle Singles from the Amazon store. The books that you purchase will be available on the device as well as on Amazon Cloud. In case you accidentally delete a book from your device, you can easily restore it via cloud. It’s also possible to transfer books onto your Kindle using the USB drive. It provides support for TXT, PDF, MOBI, DOC, DOCX, amongst others. We transferred some PDF and MOBI files and were able to access them easily. However, you cannot adjust the font size or type with PDF files. Paperwhite also supports children’s and comic books.
The model we reviewed was a Wi-Fi + 3G variant. After you set the Wi-Fi access point, it will seamlessly switch between the 3G and Wi-Fi depending on the availability, without you having to change the setting. When not required, you can also opt for the Airplane Mode, which will save you some battery. If you download the Kindle app on your smartphone or tablet, then you can sync the contents from your Kindle across the devices and start where you left off. It will also sync your bookmarks, notes etc. The Paperwhite also includes an Experimental Browser, which works only with Wi-Fi. You can perform search and open websites. You can even try accessing social networking sites, emails etc., but the black and white display alone, notwithstanding its capacitive touchscreen, will act as a deterrent. We aren’t quite sure why would anyone require a browser on an e-reader.
Notice the dark spots at the bottom
Coming to the battery life, Amazon claims that it should last you eight weeks. Having used the Paperwhite for a couple of days, we can vouch for the fact that the battery life is indeed good. However, keep in mind that the Paperwhite does not include a power adapter; you will have to buy one separately, which will cost you an additional Rs. 1,199.
Going by the overall performance and ease of use, not to forget the quality of display, the Paperwhite is undoubtedly one of the best e-readers available in the market. It is available in two variants – you can opt for the Wi-Fi only model that will cost you Rs 10, 999 or the Wi-Fi + 3G model that will set you back by Rs 13,999. For 3G, Amazon has partnered with Vodafone and is offering free connectivity for lifetime. However, considering the pricing, we think it’s an expensive deal; especially when you can get the device for a lot less if you request someone to get it for you from the US. Having said that, if you are a voracious reader and want a dedicated e-book reader, then the Paperwhite is the best e-reader you can buy.
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