Kindle Paperwhite intro
Glimpses of font darkness
Paperwhite book covers projected onto hall screen
Paperwhite, WiFi (no 3G)
Five Generations of Kindle
Showing "9 mins left in chapter" estimate
This time, a bit about the coming Kindle Paperwhite, which was to ship Oct 1, but current product page ship time is Oct 22, partially because of demand. I've included some photos I took at the press event, as these illustrate some of the points they stressed.
Much has been written about the Paperwhite, because few of us expected the light to be so evenly distributed, with a soft, diffused quality. It's easy on the eyes, with no obvious source for the lighting system and no unevenness like what we've sometimes seen with the Nook Glowlight.
However, my own concern with what the new e-Ink Kindle model would be like has been a result of two disappointments (for some) with the Nook's front-lit reader:
1. possibly lowered contrast relative to older e-Ink Kindles. Even the Nook reviews that were very positive tended to mention there was a loss of contrast as a result of the additional layer that houses the eight LED lights at the top edge of the e-Ink display, resulting in "certain lines of text looking slightly darker or lighter than others."
2. many reports of fragility of the lighting portion of the display so that a very light scratch on the surface, although not producing an indentation, can cause what Nook fan Kyle Wagner of Gizmodo describes as a "frightful little light tunnel that popped up" after he accidentally dropped a TV remote control about six inches onto the screen, and he excoriates himself for doing that. The title of his piece was the sane advice that "You Really Don't Want to Drop the new Simple Touch."
The concern over fragility of front-lit eReaders
Then TheDigitalReader's Nate Hoffelder drew attention to Wagner's article, and titled his take a bit more severely.
Most of us have inadvertently dropped our readers or tablets a short distance to carpeted areas or even onto harder surfaces. Hoffelder decided on a casual test (but one matching real-life scenarios), dropping his keys on his Nook Glowlight from a height of four inches. Then he posted his photo of the results, with 4 points on the surface that now have bright light coming through, not very pleasant for reading.
With the front-lighting off, the screen doesn't show any sign of damage otherwise. Only the lighting system is harmed.
There are 50 comments to Hoffelder's article. One pointed out that this is not a reader meant for young ones. Others at first felt he was too harsh.
But quite a few are confirmations by readers that their Glowlights have seen this damage to the light display more than once, even while protected.
And others expressed dismay with Nate's testing methodology. So he decided to do another test, this time dropping his keys "from a height of 5 to 6 inches on the following devices: Asus Transformer, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kindle DX, Innosoul Android tablet, Kindle Touch."
His results: "None were damaged in this experiment."
A suggestion was made to use a screen protector, but another commenter said he'd tried that but it made the touch screen much less responsive.
That's probably because the Nook Glowlight's display screen uses an infrared touch screen, while the Kindle Paperwhite has a capacitative touch display
Commenter fjtorres presciently muses that
' Of course, now everybody will be doing their own “Hoffelder test” *before* releasing their product so the Nook glow might just be the end of *that* experiment. '
In fact, I asked Kindle Team Staffers at the press event about my concern over fragility of a 2nd layer that houses lights over the text display, as I'd read so many reports on mild encounters of the screen with even-soft surfaces that resulted in damage to the lighting mechanism. I mentioned reading information from Nook owners at Barnes and Noble's tech support site.
One Kindle Team member actually gave me an answer (blow me down! as they tend to be so non-commital about everything).
He said that the Paperwhite light-system layer (it has only 4 Led lights) is "strong" and can handle quite a bit. I asked if they had done tests that involved dropping objects onto the screen of a Paperwhite, and he said that they had, and that it had survived all manner of drops onto the surface. I asked him if they'd dropped anything heavy on it, and he said, yes, and mentioned a rather heavy "brass" object and that it survived that too.
So, Nate, if you're reading, you've probably had an effect (along with Wagner).
Now, this is just off-the-cuff information received casually at the post-announcements demo-stations, and they'll not be guaranteeing their Paperwhites against this type of drop! But obviously they would want to distribute something stronger than we've seen with the Glowlight so far and actually did do this type of drop-test.
I'm interested in why the Paperwhite lighting layer would be stronger -- maybe its physical properties? Or something about the lighting system that is more resistant to breakage? At any rate, he was quite proud of the degree of resistance to damage from drops onto it. Again, they won't be likely to do any kind of warranty on this, but it was reassuring to hear they were concerned with the strength of the lighting mechanism.
I'll be writing more about the Paperwhite, but this blog article is already too lengthy,as usual.
A few things to remember
Like the Kindle Touch, the X-ray feature (in X-ray enabled books) gives you -- for characters mentioned on a page -- a bio plus excerpts from, and hyperlinks to, those characters' appearances in the book.
The battery life is said to be about 8 weeks, "even with the light on."
It's worth noting that Amazon used to base battery life on one hour of reading per day, but Barnes & Noble used a half-hour basis in their marketing and reviewers started saying the Nook had double the reading time. I don't know any book type who reads only 1/2 hour per day though.
The new "Time to Read" feature 'uses your reading speed" to let you know when you're likely to finish your current chapter.
With 62% more pixels than on the last e-Ink model, it has the highest resolution of any 6-7" e-reader currently and the fonts are hand-tuned to present even complex fonts clearly at smaller sizes. Having tried these a few times at the demo stations, I can confirm the unit is really clear and the touch screen very responsive. The black flash page-turn of e-Ink has a default setting of one per 6 pages and I didn't notice any ghosting of the last few pages of a series.
&nbps; For families with students or for the curious of any age, the Paperwhite 3G model not only allows downloading of Kindle books anywhere but also has AT&T cellphone access (so that you don't need to rely on finding usable WiFi spots), and you can also access Wikipedia for free, 24/7 using that 3G cellular network access. This is one of my favorite features, and it isn't found on any e-reader from other makers.
Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire Basic 7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G/WiFi - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
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The Kindle Daily Deal
What is 3G? and "WiFi"? Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,
|Most Popular Free K-Books|
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
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