Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kindle News: Kindle Paperwhite goes to Canada. Earlier reviews and updated information included.


The Latest generation Kindle, the basic NoTouch version (lightest and smallest Kindle ever offered), was made available in Canada in December, but Amazon announced today that the front-lighted Kindle Paperwhite for Canada is finally available there as well.

The WiFi+ free 3G Wireless Kindle Paperwhite, for downloads of Kindle even where WiFi is not available and with free 24/7 access to Wikipedia from almost wherever you are (with no need to hunt for WiFi spots), is CDN$199 and the WiFi-only Paperwhite is CDN$139.

Amazon's press release for Canada added, "Canada Kindle Store on offers the largest selection of the most popular books, including the most best sellers from the Globe and Mail and Le Devoir best seller lists, winners of the Giller prize, and over 50,000 French-language titles."

They say that "In addition, Canadian customers now access the Canada Kindle Store directly from the Kindle...  The Canada Kindle Store has over 1.5 million Kindle books, including over 250,000 exclusive books customers won’t find anywhere else, over 35,000 free books, and [as mentioned] over 50,000 French-language titles."

  I am here only briefly today but to make things easier, I will add here some info from the earlier blog article on Kindle Paperwhite reviews, which includes updates.  The earlier article on reviews, which many haven't seen since it was posted in early October, includes updates that explain the light panel, as there were questions on how it works and what to expect from the new technology.

From the earlier article covering Paperwhite reviews in the U.S.
 Early customer reviews mentioned the responsiveness of the capacitive screen   (made by Touchco, owned by Amazon) vs an infra-red one (the latter type of screen is on the current Nook Glowlight and the Kindle Touch). [See updates on this further down.]

  On the left or just above  is an image from the video I took of a very good demo of what it's like to use the Paperwhite, and if you didn't see it earlier, it'll help to take a look.  I had just tried out a few menu options and asked a Kindle Team member to show some of the features and functioning for the blog.

  OK.  What do the Net Tech Sages have to say?
Gizmodo's Kyle Wagner - "Forget Everything Else, This Is The E-Reader You Want" is the headline.

  Description:  "The Kindle Paperwhite is a pivotal step forward for the technology of ereaders.  It makes previous generations feel like a pulpy paperback held up next to an ornately illustrated tome.  In short: this is the best ereader you can buy."  Wagner is one who has loved the Nook readers.'
  I'm pausing here as, one of his many points is fairly key.  I wrote, on Sept. 21, that the the screen would probably be "less fragile" than an earlier front-lit one.

  Kyle Wagner was the one who had accidentally dropped something onto his Glowlight, causing a "light tunnel" to form and he blamed himself but warned that people should not drop things on it, and his column was followed by Nate Hoffelder's story on his key-drop tests.

  At the Amazon announcements, I asked a Kindle Team member about the strength of the screen, because I was concerned the Paperwhite might have the same problem, and the Kindle rep said they had, in fact, done several tests on this, dropping even a brass object on it, without bad effect  (no warranty on that, of course).  We're talking relative strength.  That was reassuring -- but I was talking to what I thought was a knowledgeable salesman with a technological bent.

Sidenote and Update:
I later discovered it was Amazon's Director of Product Management  at Lab 126, Laurent Sellier.  No wonder he was so immediately responsive about the drop-on-screen tests.
  [End of Side note and update]

  Wagner, who'd dropped a remote control on his Nook Glowlight and probably read about Nate's series of dropped-keys tests (from 4 ft), has this to say on that topic:
' We tossed a set of keys onto the screen a few times from about three feet  (don’t tell Amazon), and didn’t wind up with any light pillars shooting out of the display.  So it’s sturdy.'
Be sure to read Wagner's full review as it's VERY detailed.

  Other Reviews
 Chicago Sun-Times' Andy Ihnatko - "Industry-best e-reader gets better"
  [Although he refers to a "backlight" (as many still do), he knows it's front-lighted but continues to refer to "backlighting" throughout his story.]

  [Ihnatko says the unit is  "noteworthy" because Amazon]

 " added the illumination to the Kindle in a smarter way... its true function is to make the apparent contrast of the display even greater...the Paperwhite’s background truly looks as white as a sheet of paper.

 "... At the end of five hours of brain still thought it was paper.  My eyes had none of the complaints that often come at the end of a long session staring at a conventionally backlit tablet or notebook screen.

: ... The backlighting doesn’t seem to affect the device’s battery life in any way that was obvious during a week of use."

  [Ihnatko mentions that the 3G model lets you download books and content when away from WiFi but he probably doesn't know about an important feature that most reviewers won't run across:

    With the 3G model, you get 24/7 Wikipedia on Free 3G -- that's from anywhere that an AT&T phone works, and this feature also works outside the U.S. when you're on vacation.]

Read his full review.  Fun last line.

Endadget's Brian Heater really likes the added contrast and adds,

  "The Nook Simple Touch, on the other hand, loses contrast when bumped up to the GlowLight version, offering fairly uneven text throughout...

... On the whole...the light distribution is far, far more even than on the GlowLight."

  Engadget's photo is a bit dark but gives an idea of that.  Here's the full article.

Slashgear's Cory Gunther - "For those worried about this new light and capacitive touch technology to hinder the reading experience, it’s safe to say that isn’t the case.  Reading is simply awesome and we’ve loved our limited time with the new Paperwhite — and you will too.

"... the concave back on the NOOK is still something we favor

"... [Amazon has] even added a few awesome additions to make things even better. We have time to read, x-ray, and tools for readers all available with ease. X-Ray lets you instantly find any and all details of any character, place, or moment in a book. Amazon explains this as letting you explore the “bones of the book” with a detailed breakdown, and so far we love it.  Seeing and jumping to exact points in a 400 page read with ease is an awesome new feature for those diehards...

.".. We also have instant translations by simply highlighting a section for easy translation.

 "...So far I’ve read a little daily for the past week and a half and haven’t seen the battery meter drop one bit — so take it as you will..."   Full article here.

TIME's Harry McCracken - "The Screen Makes It the Best E-Reader Yet"

"... The Nook with GlowLight’s light-up screen is good.  But the one on the Kindle Paperwhite?  It’s spectacular — the best thing to happen to e-readers since the original 2007 Kindle came along.

"For one thing, it’s the first e-reader with illumination that’s designed to stay on all the time, not just when it’s absolutely necessary. It turns on every time you press the Paperwhite’s power button. In dark rooms, it makes the display readable when the previous Kindle would have suffered a blackout. But it also helps in brighter environs and even outside in direct sunlight, largely eliminating the unappetizing greyish look of E Ink."   Full article here.

TechCrunch's John Biggs - "The Kindle Paperwhite Is A Reader’s Dream"

"...To be fair, the Paperwhite does have an absolutely beautiful screen when backlit and it looks almost perfectly white while the Nook still has a tinge of grey.

"My recommendation, as well, is to pick up the 3G version, as it makes it easier to grab books on the go than the Wi-Fi-only model...

"...I’m wildly impressed with the simplicity and beauty of this device.  If ever there was anything similar to the fabled Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this is it."   Full article here.

CNet (group review) -

"...for the moment, the Kindle Paperwhite has jumped to the head of the e-reader pack.  It may not be perfect, but it's definitely the Kindle a lot of people have been waiting for."

  CNET's David Carnoy - An Update November 30 to add this one by Carnoy, as I missed it in the original blog article (and saw it referenced today on the Kindle forums), but it's the most detailed I've seen insofar as features are concerned, indicating he had already used the device in depth (this is unusual in mainstream reviews) by Sept. 12.  It's very well written too, which is why I looked, this late, at who had written it.

  Titled "Kindle Paperwhite shines," his bottom line is that "With an excellent built-in light and Amazon's best-in-class e-book selection, the Kindle Paperwhite rises to the top of the e-reader pack."
  Carnoy describes, in detail, reading features that many others miss and he points out some that are missing from this model although they were included in previous e-Ink models.  The pros and cons of hardware and software elements are given good context.
  Caution, I normally have extra pop-up blockers on (tech sites talk about Amazon ads, but these are really In Your Face, so I had not known most are greeted with these huge ads, which I saw, going in via a tablet w/o sufficient pop-up protection.  I really like ads to be more subtle instead of the 'BUY HERE' type.  What happened to CNET?

That should give a pretty good idea of what the reception is like.  If I see any unusual ones, I may add more later, but there have been so many rave reviews since this was first posted, that I felt the above would do unless there was something new being said.  If you've received a Paperwhite and would like to add your thoughts, pro or con, to the reports, that'd be helpful.

UPDATE2 and 3 - The Light Panel - Some have mentioned that the bottom-most slice or row has uneven lighting that's noticeable when the room light is very low.  That's where the four lower-power LEDs are, underneath the bezel, where they're the light source for the fiber optic sheet of the display.

  The light travels about 1/2 inch, as it is, before it becomes evenly diffused, and you'll see some darker portions at that lowest space.  This is not very noticeable in daylight but is seeable in the dark and is to be expected (but not mentioned in the early marketing materials, and so people had wondered if it's normal).

  Amazon explains that their design uses "nanoscale optical diffractive patterns" to enable 'fine-grain control" over the direction of the diffused light.

  Here's a very good video of this bottom area, with explanation, by phototristan, shot in a darkened room.

Updated to include the portion showing the same Paperwhitein normal room lighting before he turned the lights off.

  The patents involved with this are an interesting read (for some).  Considering the light guide layer is above the touch screen (front-lighting it), it's impressive that the screen is as responsive as it is.

      UPDATE 3a
Some reported pale discolorations in very dark rooms.  Prismatic in look, they have seemed to disappeared, for many (but some will want pure-white, even in the dark), or are not noticeable after a few days.   For questions on any Kindle purchased, one can contact Amazon Kindle Support who are very responsive.

I noticed some muted or pastel color areas if I looked for them, in a room without any light at all, where you normally cannot read an e-Ink Kindle at all, but they have virtually disappeared on my own Paperwhite, and in a darkened room I'm happy to be able to read the Kindle without attaching a light.  [End of Reports plus Update 2 and 3]

The upshot
That includes (1) mainstream reviews when the Kindle Paperwhite was released and (2) some updates I made to the U.S. Paperwhite reports, so that you don't read only external reviews or product marketing information on any Kindles of interest.  I hope that's been useful.

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire 2 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, WiFi+3G - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free slow web
Kindle DX - $379 $299 Discontinued
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - ~£89 Refurb'd
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, UK
Kindle Fire 2, UK
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB, UK
Canada - Kindlestore, CDN-$
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - $89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $139
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi+3G - $199

OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

France Boutique Kindle
Deutschland - Kindle Store
Italia - Kindle Store
Spain - Tienda Kindle
Brazil - Amazon Brazil
China - Amazon China
Japan - Amazon Japan

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. Brittany, thanks for the feedback on yours. Always great to hear how people are doing with what they decided on.


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