Kindle Paperwhite 2 Review

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I know, I’ve been on hiatus for months but writing workshop and certain cases of plagiarism did drain some of my enthusiasm. I’m getting the groove back, don’t worry. Yes, feel free to blame Dragon Age and Mass Effect trilogy for this too.

But I am working on a science fiction romance (while I was restructuring back my Malaysian Urban Fantasy novel, on contrary of what people say, Malaysian folk myths are extensive, I might just get an anthropology degree with this amount of work). I’ve been busy writing and rewriting and editing that I don’t really devote my writing hours on reviews. The science fiction work is in my pseudonym. I am not interested in writing a ‘Malaysianesque’ scifi, so you guys don’t really need to get all hot and bothered about this.

If you don’t follow me on twitter, you wouldn’t know that I received a Kindle Paperwhite (with a catch and merely weeks before the announcement for Kindle Paperwhite 3 but there’s not much differences except for slightly higher PPI). Unlike my previous experience with Kindle 4, somehow I tempered my excitement and I manage to get to know the Kindle better before I start reviewing it.

Specs
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Pros

  • Kindle Paperwhite looks and feels like a buttonless Kindle 4. It was noticeably lighter than the fourth generation Kindle Touch. I remember the first time someone handed me their KT for comparison, it really feels like I’m holding a slab of glass.
  • Black color made it feel sleek and expensive. I just hope it doesn’t scratch or rub off easily like the silver case in the older gen.
  • E-ink is great in general for reading under sunlight. Which is good if you’re an outdoorsy type but I’m living in a tropical country and now its El Nino. Nobody should stay in the sun longer than they need to be.
  • Fortunately, the ereader is great for indoors with bad lighting and for night reading. I notice that I sleep a lot easier with the front lit reader than with back lit tablet.
  • Additional fonts (Baskerville/Caecilia/Caecilia Condensed/Futura/Helvetica/Palatino) for the font-sensitive. This is where high PPI can be useful as it allows the screen to render these fonts with sharper darker text.
  • Darker lines which is great for black and white manga (remember to read it from right to left.. which is great for left handers)
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  • and comics…screenshot_2015_08_10T03_44_46+0800

and then he became this hunk… hyaaan…

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  • Touch sensitive. This is the part that I like. It was way easier to type on the Kindle than any glossy touchscreen. I didn’t need to hold the keys longer than necessary.
  • Less visible ghosting and fast refresh rate. The only way I could find significant ghosting was when I was browsing on the experimental browser.
  • Fast charging even when the battery was depleted at 50%. Which is great considering…
  • Kindle Freetime as the new user-friendly parental control feature for kids. I thought the feature was pretty neat even though I didn’t exactly use it for kids but it was a cool feature to activate especially with Word Wise on.

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  • And gamification! I adore these~~screenshot_2015_08_10T03_34_00+0800

Cons

  • Officially, Kindle are not available in Malaysia. Third-person vendor don’t really offer warranty or easy replacement. Kindle generally could last for years if kept in good condition and you don’t really need to replace it that frequently but if anything happen to your device, you’re on your own.
  • You need VPN and American-address account and credit card to buy books on Amazon. A lot of publishers region-restricted a lot of their ebooks to Malaysians. Most of the time it isn’t because of Amazon themselves and a lot of digital ebook market do have regional restrictions.
  • Kindle Paperwhite can come in 2GB and 4GB version. Fortunately, I have the later version but the actual space that was allocated to you was around 3GB. I don’t really like transferring my books into the cloud. It wasn’t exactly click-drag-drop like Dropbox or OneDrive.
  • Which means, if you need additional storage so much, you’ll fare better with ereaders that came with SD slot especially if you like reading larger PDFs (manga, textbooks, picture-heavy books).
  • PDF viewing on a 6 inch screen aren’t really that impressive. I find its harder to navigate when the screen struggle to render and scroll.
  • Battery drain faster than unlit ereaders. I really could last a month on single charge because the device would only use its power when changing pages. With a lit ereader, the device is still working even when if you’re not actually reading. Fortunately, it will shut by itself after a few minutes.
  • Touchscreen interface means you’ll be swiping a lot. Don’t hold your device with one hand while riding a train or something, I won’t be responsible if you drop it.
  • Buttons > Touchscreen. There’s a lot of reasons why I still use phones with buttons in this age of touchscreen phones. I know gestures seems futuristic but I appreciate precision.
  • Not very left-handed friendly. You need to eyeball the page turn area and accidental page turns are expected. I’m not left-handed but I do use my left hand to read when my right hand became tired.
  • Dust-magnet and it hates oily fingers (I’m still looking for decals but shipping is just as atrocious as with local decals resellers)
  • Experimental browser can be problematic. But I found the solution for certain issues that bugs me.
  • Since the device wouldn’t read epub (whatever Apple…), you need Calibre to handle most of file conversions so that they’re compatible with your device.
  • Kindle Freetime need Wifi to switch from the kid-friendly mode to the regular reader mode.screenshot_2015_08_10T03_40_01+0800
  • And it can only sync ebooks from Amazon cloud. This also includes the achievements 😦
  • Goodreads-sync can be a hassle. I can’t really control what types of update from my Kindle to the site and I haven’t explored much of Goodreads via Kindle but I find its easier to navigate on the actual site.
  • I don’t really like that the Kindle would immediately sync your reading progress. I want better control on my reading progress and I can’t do it from the reader.

Overall, I do like Kindle Paperwhite but I would be just as happy with a regular Kindle. There’s no drastic change from the previous and current versions and it is the best reader in the market. If you find that you need one, Kindle is always a cheap alternative compared to other China-made ereaders.

and the first few things I learn from my previous experience as a Kindle owner;

  1. Do not unload all your digital library into the ereader. You want to read these books, not endlessly swiping to find which books that caught your interest. Its a single-purpose device for reading. Not your digital bookshelf.
  2. Take care of your USB cable. It was your lifeline.
  3. Stock up on Amazon gift card!!!!!
  4. No. You aren’t betraying your physical books by reading ebooks. And for certain books, it was more feasible to read in actual physical copies than in ebook form.
  5. And seriously, if you miss the smell of books so much, just grab a random book and sniff it and then get back to reading. In my humble opinion, badly-written dead trees books always smell nice too.
  6. No. You’re not stuck with ‘Amazon ecosystem’. Even if anything an ebook apocalypse do happen to Amazon, there’s always other options. Amazon isn’t a bookstore and it thrive on other marketplace to profit and survive unlike a lot other ebook stores.
  7. If you have time, do organize your Amazon cloud manager, so it won’t be a headache later.

EDIT:

I didn’t realize I was reviewing the ereader while it was on version 5.6.2.1, basically I’ve been reading on gimped ereader for months, lol. The update file is too large for my Kindle to update on its own so I have to update version 5.6.5 via USB transfer.

I found that Amazon did made the PDF experience bearable but ghosting is still prevalent with image heavy book. If you’re reading books in PDF format, I do think it does reading a tad easier but not as perfect as on a tablet.

There’s some subtle additional features but most of all was the addition of a new typeface.

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Library Review: ForgottenBooks.org

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A couple of days ago, I was given a subscription of the site and was invited by Forgotten Books (based in Hong Kong) to review their collection. Frankly, I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of this site.

I had previous experiences with subscribed digital libraries (Elsevier, PubMed, Lancet etc) via UKM Gemilang and frankly this site really made me want to go back to university and just fall back on the bed and read all day long.

First of all, was the collection of the books. They boast about their 1,000,000 free books and I know, this is internet and you can find almost everything but one of the things I notice is that their books consisted of a wealth of non-fiction work – in EVERYTHING!

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Sure,  a lot of fiction in this site are classics available on Gutenberg or The Archive. But they doesn’t even hold the flame to this site’s collection of non-fiction works in EVERYTHING. 

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I’ve spent several hours on the site just browsing and searching random terms before I had to go to my grandmother house for Eid and it have everything even if some of it was older edition but there are a lot of things I wanted. From Greek and Norse mythology reads, to books on rabbits, to music sheets to cookbooks to criminology books to nursing books, medical books, biological books, mathematics, wicca etc. I was one of those girls who haunt libraries for books and spent hours in it browsing and picking tonnes of random books to read. How can these be free when I have a hard time finding them before?

This digital library also have some compiled journals and dissertations which are perfect for academical setting. I could tell you the hours I’ve been inside this stuffy (occasional overbearing hot and ice cold with broken toilet) campus library for months trying to find volumes of compiled chemistry journals books. And the site have it all

I could spend half a page describing all the finds I had through the catalogues and it is safe to say, if you love reading all types of books and a writer, ‘Forgotten Books’ have everything even banned books.

Of course, its not flawed. Its named Forgotten Books for a reason. A lot of these books are essentially very high quality copyrighted scanned books and some are really old. You hardly see popular books and I didn’t really need this site for them.

Although the app for Android and iPad are not available yet but all of the books are PDFs which can be read on most ereaders. I have downloaded several books for Kindle and I was amazed by the clarity of it.

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You can adjust the contrast on the pdf and frankly the its very good read.

And you could still read on the site themselves with their own online reader.

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I did do heavy reading on non-fiction (recently its veterinary medicine books) on most daily basis. But mostly I just skim over and rarely even review them on this site (try checking for ‘Reference’ in the tag cloud).

Other than books, the site also offer additional features like image search on the books which are way better than Google as it came with the exact book’s reference. If you are a university student, you should know that these citations can mean life and death of your thesis.

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They also provide word data obtained from their collection which can be useful for librarians or infographers or statistician.

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I am pleased to find great collection of academical books which I normally find on university libraries which is one of the biggest perk as a university student. I’m quite disappointed that I didn’t have this site and its resources while I was actually studying in university (but it took me a lot of time of thinking but I’m thinking of going back to school to try another degree as I’ve already been taking university classes on Coursera and love learning).

Of course, this site aren’t all free. Once you’ve registered, you’re entitled to a free book per day but if you subscribed to the site monthly or yearly, you’ll get an even more bargain and advantage than online newspaper membership. Plus, even the cheapest option $2.99 (RM9) is even cheaper than Kindle deals. Honestly, this site is a fraction of what university libraries across the country spent on subscribing. If you’re a medical or literature student, this site is a definite life saviour.

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The site work on its own download credits for each of the books they offered. They also offered rollover so that you could accumulate the downloadable limit amount each month. I do think 10-20 is good enough for individual usage especially on certain books you could only find on this site.

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I hardly find any flaw in the site which seems fairly new but working completely as a digital library. The direction to the sites are straightforward and easy to surf through although there were some features unavailable on the site (Besides Kindle, I have access to Android, Apple and Windows 8 but I couldn’t review all of its Apps services) but so far the site is more accessible and more user-friendly than a bunch of digital libraries and galley sites I’ve encountered.

If you’re like me, who have been through university libraries of failed links of ebook sites, this site will make your endless googling life a lot easier. As it is quite affordable for individuals like me (the $5 per month subscription for 100 downloadable rare books, anyone??), it wouldn’t be hard pressed for university libraries and university students to consider this.

So far, I’ve recommended the sites to doctors, students, book clubs and writing groups about the ease of its service in researching and also reading materials. There are plenty of resources useful in this site.  As I am an active reader of a lot of mythological folklore and also of science and medicine and also random topics depending on my mood, I do feel the site cater a person of multiple of interest in mind – like me – obviously.

If you are looking for an alternative site for subscribing non-fiction reading material without all the frills, this site is perfect for you.

Disclaimer : Every screencaps with its content are linked and belonged to the ForgottenBooks.org. Every word in this post are my own personal and honest opinion.

Food Institute of Malaysia’s Library review *no pics for now*

Instead of random book store reviews, I’m making a posts on library too. Too bad that I made this blog a bit too late since I had gone to a lot of libraries before this. Oh well, another reason to go to visit all of them again 🙂

I’m not sure people are aware of this, me and my sister sign up for a short course ie certificate in a local IPTS which was Food Institute of Malaysia for Pastry and Bakery which is half a year study. Its a side certificate to gain some experience (which is what majority of the jobs these days entails besides fluency in Mandarin *cough*). Its been two month and so far, I’m enjoying my weeks in the place since I get to taste and make stuff that I dont really interested (Malaysian Kuih Muih) and make bread-making and learn pastry skills from experienced chefs. Despite the limited non-university facilities, its actually a great place to study about basic in food preparation and my dad is psyched because he get to eat nice stuff… lols

One of the things I do in educational facilities of any sort was stalk their libraries. I didn’t bring my camera so unfortunately I can’t show you the awesomeness of this library.

Since FIM is fairly a new college (established on 1998 which is still new than UKM’s 1970 and I’ve known about them ever since I moved back to PJ in 2002) so the library wasn’t stock fully like university’s library (UUM, UKM and UM that I’ve been) but for stuff like food and recipes, this library is like heaven to food lovers.

Bookxcess and Big Bad Wolf sale was the only place that I see an abundance of English recipe books at cheap price. FIM’s library (or resource centre as it called) is the obly place I’ve been that have SHELVES FULL of every kinds of major and basic cook books for free (if you’re a student, you get to borrow TWO books for a week than usual university’s 2 weeks). I mean, really, have you seen books on Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Italian, French, Spanish, English cook books in universities libraries? If the university doesn’t have diploma or degree in food service, I doubt they have shelves full of them, I know, since in UKM KL, we have degrees in nutrition and diet and there’s only one shelf of recipe books which is not that awesome as this library.

The first time I went into the library in the first week, I didn’t have my matric card yet until this week, so while I rave about the books before in my twitter, I can’t actually borrow them (later I realize they make library cards like school ones instead of university’s computerized system ).

Today, I was like in a candy store. Cook books everywhere on types of food. Multiple books to choose. I want to borrow the Japanese book my sister grabbed until I saw the baking books behind the main shelves and these are the two books I checked out.

Which is just awesome!!!

I think I missed my calling when I applied for university after matriculation. Because all of these are way better and easier than having to memorize and analyse body fluids of every kind from animals to human and memorize hundreds of chemical structures.

Besides huge stacks of recipe books, there are smaller stacks for basic biochemistry (pfft.. *flick lint*), food nutrition, business, motivational section, novels and dictionaries. There were also student assignments at the end of the library which you can read and reference for your own assignment.

But the main point are the thick slabs of cook books. My house is filled with stacks of cookbooks too but this is like another dimension of foodies’ bookgasm.

Honestly, instead of paying hundreds of bucks on cookbooks, just come here and embrace the awesomeness of the food library. If you aren’t a student, you can ask the FIM if you can browse the library (which I think majority of library in malaysia allow visitors), and dont ask me since I am a student so its not really an issue. If you are a student and never been into the library, you are missing a lot. Not everything you get on internet is reliable you know.

Besides, I go nerdgasm briefly reading books dedicated on CHEESE and MUSHROOMS!!!! Seriously, I saw these things in book stores but didn’t have the heart to spend hundred ringgit on those books. But reading a book dedicated on hundreds of CHEEEEESE is awesome!!! In a library which everything is borrow-able. Its like… nyan…. *giddy!!!!*

FIM is located in SS 7 (right nearby Kelana Jaya’s Giant Hypermarket , Paradigm Mall and Brothers) and frankly, despite being in a place that doesn’t look like colleges, its a good place to study culinary in a long term or short term (like me). They do cater older students too.

I will bring a camera to show you how awesome the place it. I hope the librarian don’t mind me promoting their place since I hardly see any pictures of the place in internet.

But again and again, if you love and love cooking food, food libraries is superbly awesome!

Ehem… sorry PDAL… its not that I belittle your awesome medical library and smallish food recipe section but honestly, its all about specification.

Honestly.. how can you NOT be uber-excited?! Cheese… duh