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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