Showing posts with label Kindle Paperwhite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindle Paperwhite. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Kindle Paperwhite is the best six-inch e-reader

Recently we’ve seen the expansion of e-readers in different sizes. I’ll dedicate three posts to three different screen sizes: six-inches, seven-inches and eight-inches. This post is dedicated to six-inch e-readers and in that category, the Kindle Paperwhite is the one to choose. I’ll justify the Kindle Paperwhite considering Amazon’s entry-level Kindle, what Kobo offers and why it is not sensible to consider a six-inch e-reader by alternative vendors:
  1. The price differential between the Paperwhite and Kindle Basic is reasonable. The £50 difference gets you twice the storage, near twice the resolution, better front lighting and water-proofing. The same cannot be said about the £110 price difference between Oasis 2 and Paperwhite. Overall, the Paperwhite gives you the best value – if only it came in different sizes! 
  2. The Kindle Paperwhite is also better than Kobo’s two six-inch e-readers (Kobo Clara HD and Kobo Aura Edition 2). The superiority of the Paperwhite is in Amazon’s firmware. Kobo might offer richer typographical features but is overall well behind. The main difference is Amazon extensive cloud-based infrastructure. Amazon syncs not only purchased books but also personal documents. The syncing service not only includes page location but also annotations, categorising e-books in collections, wirelessly sending e-books to a Kindle device and the ability to manage collections online. If you want to use an e-reader to organise a library of personal content, then the Paperwhite is the better option in comparison to Kobo’s six-inch offerings. 
  3. Finally, it doesn’t make sense to buy a six-inch e-reader from an alternative vendor. In my opinion, Boyue and Onyx e-readers fill the gap when it comes to larger e-readers that are suitable for PDF documents and note-taking. The six-inch size is suitable mainly for e-books and nothing beats the stable and intuitive firmware that you get on Kindle devices.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Reflections on the Kindle Paperwhite 4

Even considering the slow development of e-reader technology, there is nothing innovative with the Kindle Paperwhite 4. The latest iteration, mostly, matches the hardware features of other vendors. You still do not get the nightlight feature, but you do get water-proofing. Despite the hardware stagnation, the Kindle Paperwhite remains the best six-inch e-reader. The reason, as I posted before, for the Paperwhite’s superiority is Amazon’s polished software. As an e-reader is a single purpose device then the software is a major factor when choosing the right one. Below are further reflections on the Kindle Paperwhite 4:
  • Amazon’s excellent software and hardware integration mean the Kindle is optimised for its purpose bottom-up. The Paperwhite 4's battery life is better than the Kindle Oasis 2 and is what you expect from an E-Ink device. This bottom-up optimisation is absent with Android e-readers and this affects not only battery life but also general user experience.
  •  I would avoid the over-priced Kindle Oasis 2. The extra inch makes a difference but is still not large enough for PDF reading. For e-books, the extra inch is better for text immersion but is not essential and not worth the Oasis’s price differential. I like the simplicity and features of the Kindle’s PDF software but an Android e-reader, e.g., one of Onyx’s devices, is better and with more options and features for PDF reading. The coupling of Android with extra screen size also makes Android e-readers, to an extent, multi-purpose devices. 
  • The Kindle Paperwhite’s flush display is a fingerprint magnet. I own the Kobo Aura One, but it doesn’t have this issue. The fingerprint issue is a negative but not a big problem. 
  • In my view, the Kobo Aura One, in comparison to the Kindle Paperwhite 4, has better contrast. The Kindle Paperwhite 4 contrast is acceptable and better than the Kindle Oasis 2. Contrast adjustment, something Boyue and Onyx e-readers support, is an important feature that Amazon's e-readers need to adopt. Kindle e-readers, currently, only support text bolding. 
  • Water-proofing, Bluetooth support, expanded storage and an improved front light are all improvements that make the Kindle Paperwhite 4 a better option than the Kindle Oasis 2. As said, the extra inch is now the Oasis 2’s stand-out hardware feature and I don’t think the extra size is worth an extra £110.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Kindle Paperwhite is finally updated

I thought Amazon wasn't going to update any Kindle in 2018 but I got it wrong. Amazon, with little fuss, updated the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle Paperwhite 4 is a typical Kindle update, i.e. incremental with just enough to justify an overdue refresh.

The Kindle Paperwhite keeps the six-inch display (something expected considering the 'premium' Kindle Oasis 2 has a seven-inch display). Storage goes up to 8 GB or 32 GB for the extra space required due to Audible support. There is also water-proofing, Bluetooth support, an extra LED for the front light and the weight is decreased to 182 grams.

The Paperwhite 4 is also more robust than the previous generation and is designed to withstand small drops. There is no indication that the Paperwhite 4 is using E-Ink Mobius, so it is not clear what Amazon did to make the screen more robust. Due to the extra features and storage, Amazon has increased the pricing from £109.99 to £119.99.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

An incoming Kindle Paperwhite update?

A link for a new model of the Paperwhite was spotted. The link leads to a test product page with an image of the previous generation Kindle Basic. Amazon often intentionally leaks information, gradually, of a new device before its release. In addition, Amazon usually releases devices late Spring/early summer or late autumn. Considering the timing, a new Paperwhite should be appearing soon. The updated device might keep the six-inch form factor but add waterproofing and Audible support. We might also see a re-design of the Paperwhite (the Paperwhite hasn’t significantly changed since its first release late 2012).

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

What to expect with an updated Kindle Paperwhite?

The current Kindle Paperwhite was released spring 2015 and, I believe, the three-year mark will see the release of an update (Spring 2018). The updated Paperwhite will probably keep the six-inch screen - the seven-inch size is restricted to the Oasis - but get the majority of hardware features and near all software features of the Oasis. This means expect a device that comes with waterproofing, Bluetooth support, a lighter and more compact form factor and a slight bump in processor power. Hardware features that will stay the same include the number of front light LEDs, 4GB storage and a 300 PPI E-Ink Carta screen. If the Voyage is updated, rather than discontinued, then it will probably get an upgrade in the number of LEDs and 8 GB storage, to justify a higher price. The software will be near identical to the Oasis (Amazon aims to keep firmware features the same, with slight differences related to hardware differences between the different Kindles) and that means Audible integration with the updated Paperwhite.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Review of the 8th generation Kindle Basic: The best entry-level six-inch e-reader

Amazon’s 8th generation Kindle is priced similar to other entry-level e-readers but what makes it, in my opinion, the best entry-level e-reader is its refined operating system. The device itself is very capable and there is no skimping on performance. The big compromise is the absence of a front-light and a lower 167 dpi E-Ink Pearl display. Also, compared to the Kindle Paperwhite there is a clear difference in clarity and sharpness. However, there is an upside with the lower resolution as you get better text scaling (clarified below). The E-Ink Pearl screen itself has acceptable contrast and is superior to other e-readers with a similar low-resolution. Further, due to good hardware and software integration, fonts are rendered with more weight to appear darker and this somewhat offsets the lower resolution.

The absence of a front-light, for some users, might be an issue. If that is the case then the Paperwhite would be the better option. Personally, I find the absence of a front-light a non-issue, as zero light emission is the reason I choose to primarily read on E-Ink screens. What I like in the entry Kindle is the superior text scaling, compared to the higher-resolution Kindle models. The higher dpi of the Paperwhite means more text appears on the screen for each font scale but, this might be due to the higher resolution too, the incremental difference between each scale is too high. In comparison, the entry Kindle’s size increase is more balanced – level three is a balanced medium setting that works well (see picture below for font scaling comparison between the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite). It would be a good idea if Amazon gave the user more control to choose a suitable font size.

Finally, another positive is the device’s lightweight in comparison to the Paperwhite. The device’s weight (161 grams) makes it ideal for one-handed reading.


Font size at level three - the entry Kindle is the white e-reader (please click on image to enlarge)
Font size at level four (note the Paperwhite's large increase in size between levels three & four)

Firmware

As noted, the hardware is capable and the display is good enough. What makes this the best entry-level e-reader is the firmware. Amazon’s firmware is near identical across its Kindle devices - the Kindle Oasis and entry-level Kindle have near identical features. First, some negative issues need to be flagged about the firmware:
  • There is no way to organise content in collections through folders created on the device’s local storage. Further, for a personal document to be stored in the cloud and synced across devices, it needs to be sent to the user’s designated Kindle email. Greater flexibility and integration between local storage, device collections and cloud synchronisation would simplify the process of organising user content. 
  • There is limited control over text - in comparison, Kobo’s operating system (Nickel) provides superior features. Nickel gives the user greater control over font size, text alignment, margins, line spacing and the further option to sideload fonts. For example, expanding reader settings features might resolve the problem of scaling that comes with a higher dpi screen. One possibility might be to allow the user the option to increase font size by selecting an exact font number (Android e-reading applications, e.g., Moon+ Reader and Bookari, support this feature). Greater control over reading settings and the absence of a larger Kindle, in my opinion, are the two central issues that Amazon needs to address. 
  • An odd quirk with Amazon’s Kindle software is the extension of selected reading settings from one document to another. Thus, settings selected in one e-book is then applied to the next document opened. It is a small issue but there is no reason why this problem should persist. 
  • There is no page number support; instead, there is the location number or percentage of the book read. Again, Nickel is better in this area; Kobo allows the user to display page number in whether in the current chapter or entire book.
Below are some positives - these are not exhaustive but, overall, they are examples of why the entry Kindle is the best entry-level e-reader:
  • Acceptable PDF support: Both Barnes & Noble and Kobo e-readers offer poor PDF support. Amazon’s Kindle software, in contrast, does consider PDF reading and allows the user to highlight text, annotate, look up definitions, write notes and search in a PDF file. The only problem is that there is no Kindle model beyond six inches to optimise the different use cases of these features (seven inches is the minimum size to read PDF documents comfortably in landscape mode). 
  • Exporting notes and highlights: Amazon allows users to export their annotations and highlights for both Kindle e-books and personal e-books. There is further control on the format of the notes and highlights exported (citation styles include APA, Chicago Style, MLA or none). The exported document produced even categorises the annotations and highlights in reference to e-book location and categorises the output in its relevant chapter and section. 
  • Touch response is excellent when interacting with menus/settings or highlighting. 
  • Sync support for non-Amazon personal documents: Amazon synchronises personal e-book if they are emailed to the Amazon cloud - this means notes and highlights are available across devices and may be exported via a Fire tablet or the Kindle application. 
  • Vocabulary builder: Look-up words and they are then archived for later access; this feature and Word Wise (Word Wise provides simple definitions for potentially difficult words) are useful for learning. 
  • Wikipedia support: If WiFi is turned on the user is able to select a key term and look up it in Wikipedia.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Exporting Kindle notes and highlights

In the past, the best option to access annotations and highlights was to transfer a locally stored ‘my clippings’ file after connecting a Kindle to a PC. To further organise the output of the file, according to e-book and location in an e-book, there were options to upload the 'my clippings' file to clippings.io or to utilise a Calibre plug-in. Thankfully things have moved on since then and Amazon released an update that allows greater flexibility and options to externally store a user’s notebook. On a Kindle device, the exporting a notebook to an external email is possible through first selecting reading settings and after that notes - from notes, there is an option to then email the notebook. Unfortunately, the ability to email notes and highlights applies to Amazon books and not personal e-books.

However, it is still possible to email and share a personal e-book's notebook to external accounts - e.g., Evernote and Onenote - via the Kindle application or Fire tablet. This is possible, as notes and highlights of e-books are stored in the Amazon cloud and automatically synced over different devices. Thus, a personal e-book's notebook would be available to export in the Kindle application when synced from, for example, a Kindle Paperwhite. The process of exporting the document is very easy and applies to both Fire tablets (Fire OS) and Kindle application - first tap on reading settings and then choose to export a notebook; after choosing to export, it is then possible to send the notebook to external applications. A further useful feature is the ability to export utilising different citation styles (APA, Chicago Style, MLA or none).