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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Big Bad Wolf Fire Sale 2015: 2 – 9 February @MIECC

 

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For some reason, my blog traffic ballooned during BBW season every year…. and I’ve been talking about it since my second year university. days…  oh well.

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Firefly inside the Komuter and me going to a Firesale

 

Yes, I was there yesterday. Apparently, everyone like my old blog post on how to get to MIECC on foot… and one person actually followed me there. Except its morning, and the door to the center was locked.

And I’m not amused….

Its the normal Big Bad Wolf sale…. -____-

Which means, stacks of same books in one table.

I rant a lot about this yesterday and I know you read my blog, Big Bad Wolf people but have you seen bookstores that put out ALL their stock on one table? As in 100 copies of the same book in one table? I know the venue got bigger since 2012 but seriously? If you have people manning the table, you don’t need to stick mountains of same books in a limited space…. and don’t stuck all single random copies books under the table.

I guess, I’m still pissed that I didn’t get a single scifi book… or Mass Effect books.. sigh

Multiple copies of Halo, Star Trek and Star Wars doesn’t make them the representative of Scifi genre. At least I hardly see Tolkien books hoarding the tables this time..

And I guess its an improvement to see there’s extra side table for literature and SFF section but… I’m amazed that the Romance section dominated the Fiction section…. I saw some paranormal romance in that area too but most of them was chic lits and contemporaries… must be overprinted stuff.

I miss out on last year’s aftermath/fire sale because Suria was in town but I went to the later Box Sale and the fantasy/scifi section was a treasure trove. But on 2013, I got nice random stuff during the Firesale. It was a joy to scan each titles to find them.

Sigh… I guess I have to make do with mostly fantasy books. At least they’re cheap and I get nice lunch afterwards because I don’t splurge too much.

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And I think I’ve contributed to mainstreaming of this sale…… this is the first time I saw a huge morning crowd during a firesale and I’ve been to a almost every BBW’s firesale… Holiday huh?

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p/s: My sister got a Preview pass for this December’s Big Bad Wolf Sale… heh, now to get another one for the driver.

p/p/s: book blog are getting abandoned… lmao.

Randomness : Mass Effect and The Cult of Shenko

Content warning : Game-related post and filled with Mass Effect spoilers, pictures and unfiltered fangirlism. Feel free to skip this very book-unrelated post.

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These few weeks have been a marathon of multiple Mass Effect playthrough. I intended it to be a diversion from being obsessed with Dragon Age Inquisition but I’ve gone into the rabbit hole that was Bioware.

Damn it. The story was perfectly complex and superior than Dragon Age series. The science and medicine was very realistic to me who regularly brutalize novels whenever they got bad science. I identify with countless of FemShepard playthrough and ultimately, I ship Shepard and Alenko. Ship them really really hard.

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I think it got personal for me when I used my name for her (Shiera Shepard) and there was an Asari consort with the name Sha’ira. An American game that use and correctly pronounced my fairly rare name. It was predestined.

I’ve played a combination of Vanguard/Infiltrator and several Shepard’s personal history combination that made this game virtually addictive. There’s always something new with each play-through and the game was fast paced and I’ve replayed them half a dozen time already and I’m still not bored with it.

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I know there was a general preference for MaleShepard but I do identify well with FemaleShepard. I was quite surprised that the voice actress acted in so many video games and children’s show.

Now back to the real fangirlism content.

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Its weird but Kaidan Alenko is the guy who do make love with his eyes. How can you do that in video games?

In all honesty, I don’t find him sexually attractive at all (and I do remember the actor who voiced him and acted in Once Upon A Time) but he really do love my Shepard and I still haven’t had the heart to disappoint him.

And it was rewarding.

Like seriously.

Heart pounding and all that subtle mushiness and intensity that made my monitor steam…

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Side note: The romance element in Mass Effect trilogy was pathetically minimal when compared to Dragon Age or average romance novels. The ‘controversial’ smutty scene was more vanilla than the Harlequin novels I’ve read. But weirdly enough, these games are classified over 18. But it was refreshing to see no blood bath like in DA2.

Now, with an established romance, you’re guaranteed a continuation in the next installment right?

Eh…. nope.

Spoilers. 

Shepard and the Normandy died in the beginning of ME2.

Yep.

Dead as a door nail.

But this is science fiction and miracle do happen. Billions of credits and two years later, Shepard lives on to fight another day for her sponsor which was a terrorist group. Naturally.

While it was fun playing emotionally-repressed Shepard in ME, curiously enough she became this supreme badass goddess in ME2…

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…and she is a goddess who don’t need a man.

Shepard woke up from being dead only to be ordered to save the humanity again. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the love of her life remained unconvinced that it was the same Shepard and he moved on.

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Last hug and then he was all “Screw you! You’re with Cerberus! I can’t trust you anymore!”

Yep. Those dialogues options need some serious adjustment involving shouting match, biotic battles and crying. But wait…

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You broke my heart in pieces…. and here I am still wishing you’re here with me… sigh

 

Has he really moved on?

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Safe to say, in ME3, the answer is dead no. It happened in the five minute introduction of ME3 and the guy is bleeding all the love for this woman when she wasn’t looking. While he was giving her all these looks, clearly he’s becoming an overly attached ex-boyfriend. And then he began to exude angst… again…

But it was when he hinted that he wanted her to meet with his mother that it was a point of no return for me.

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Yep. And this isn’t a lock-in romance scene. Nope.

But all those long hours filled with gaming drama, I can certainly say it was genuinely rewarding to a person who appreciate complex storytelling…

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For me, Mass Effect is a story of one emotionally scarred and complex woman who achieved the impossible. She fought hard for the one she loves and the one she cares about. She sacrificed so much and have many regrets in her life and yet, she work hard to save the one that matters to her. She was the avatar of the war against the God Machines and the people who threatened the ones she vowed to protect. And she fought hard for what she believes in.

And that made her more remarkable than Warden or Hawke.

I genuinely like the complexity between these two characters. Its like rooting for a couple in a novel series.

In the beginning, Kaidan was merely her subordinate who fell in love and idolize her from the start even before you press “New Game”. Then he began to identify his conflicted feelings with his superior officer for love and then he reacted badly to it. I wouldn’t say that he was a stereotypical sensitive guy. He was often thoughtful and he can be pretty ruthless and hard-headed. He struggled with his duty and his feelings. Shepard even noted that he represent the head while Ashley represent the heart of Normandy. I don’t feel that he was boring. Slightly annoying but he mirrored Shepard’s intensity. Shepard can be too much for a person to handle and I do think he contrasted that much.

And then after the trauma of losing the one he love, he began to concentrate on his work, he rose in rank and eventually became fully actualized as an officer (and technically, her superior officer) and a Spectre. Besides, a Vanguard/Infiltrator Shepard always work well with the Sentinel. It was crazy to sacrifice him.

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Then again, even without Kaidan. I can safely say. I genuinely love Shepard. She wasn’t a character I normally would want to write but as a gamer, she’s perfection and the best character I’ve played in my entire 20+ years of gaming.