Getting the ultimate e-book experience4 min read . Updated: 29 Jan 2013, 07:56 PM IST
The new Kindle keeps the best qualities of its predecessors while fixing the few shortcomings left
If you wolf down books and enjoy reading, it is hard not to fall in love with the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G e-book reader within the first 15 minutes. Just as digital cameras replaced film, laptops and PCs replaced typewriters, MP3s replaced vinyl record discs, paper will eventually go the way of papyrus. If you like books, it is merely a matter of deciding whether you’re going to conquer this mountain now, or keep skirting it for a few more years.
A lack of bookish look and feel aside, a single-minded e-reader like the Paperwhite 3G offers a number of advantages over paper. This model, for example, allows you to carry most of your reading—some 1,100 books and even a pile of offline Web articles and other documents that you can whisk on to it, over the air in seconds—with you, everywhere you go (see Beyond Books). And unlike a tablet that offers a maximum of 10 hours’ battery life, the Paperwhite offers eight weeks of juice. So you can easily afford to leave the charger at home even on a month’s vacation.
The high-contrast, no-glare, black and white, 6-inch capacitive touch screen with a 212 ppi (pixels per inch) resolution is a delight to read on. The beauty of it is that it lets you read without blinking, squinting or straining your eyes—be it dazzling sunlight or pitch dark. The Paperwhite’s built-in screen lighting comprises four low-power LEDs with user-adjustable brightness levels embedded at the lower margin of the display to ensure this. Since the e-ink-based matte display is not backlit (as in the case of tablets or laptops), you can go on reading for hours at a stretch, just as you would a regular paper-based book, without straining your eyes.
A touch screen means that you move more electrons than muscles to flip pages. A two-finger pinch gesture allows you to adjust the point size as per your convenience. Navigation is simple and the menus and interface intuitive. You merely have to press and hold to select a word to look it up in the built-in dictionary, or highlight a word or passage that you want to mark, add a note to, or share with others. You can also look up Wikipedia, or even translate words and phrases right there, without leaving the page.
The all-black matte, soft-touch back and side casing looks sleek and feels nice. The device is solidly built and the form factor is very comfortable to hold in one hand. At 222g, the Paperwhite 3G weighs about 50g more than the entry-level Kindle 4. Compare this to the weight of the Nokia Lumia 920 (185g) smartphone or the Apple iPad 3 (662g) and you realize why the e-reader is so portable.
Free global 3G on the Paperwhite means that not only can you buy and instantly download tomes from the online Amazon book store (which offers over a million books) and refer to Wikipedia, you can also do some basic Web browsing free of cost in over 100 countries. No SIM card, no monthly charges—pre or post. It is another matter that the experimental browser on the Paperwhite is nothing to write home about; it is clumsy, clunky, jumpy and rudimentary.
It gets the job done though; you can also check your Web mail via 3G on the device in 61 countries as you trundle from airport to hotel without spending a paise. Sadly, while India is officially on Amazon’s 3G browsing shortlist, the Paperwhite’s connectivity here seems restricted to just the book store. Also, unlike its predecessors, the latest Kindle avatar lacks the ability to handle audiobooks.
The ad strip that appears at the bottom of the home page is non-intrusive. Ditto for the ads that appear as screen savers. You can of course spend an extra $20 (around ₹ 1,075) to get rid of them altogether.
The Paperwhite 3G+Wi-Fi is not officially available in India, but you can buy it on eBay for upwards of ₹ 19,000 (including shipping); you can also get it in the US for $179 (under ₹ 10,000) and ship it yourself. In comparison, Croma is officially selling the Kindle 4 (Wi-Fi only) for ₹ 6,999.
Some tips and tricks to help you take your Kindle experience to the next level
A Kindle is not just for reading books. You can also use it to read all your work documents, manage your appointments calendar, clip text for reading later, or even save articles from sites like Wikipedia.
u Send to Kindle for PC is a free program that allows you to send your personal documents to your Kindle—including Kindle-reading applications on other devices.
u The Klip.me “Send to Kindle" is a nice browser extension for Kindle owners who wish to read Web stories (especially longer ones) on their e-ink devices. Available for Chrome and Safari browser, it offers a quick way of sending Web content to Kindle. A bookmarklet version of Klip.me is available for Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari and IE9 browsers.
u The Google Chrome browser too has a Send to Kindle extension. The extensions have been optimized for the Google Reader, Wikipedia, Quora, Hacker News, Metafilter and Stack Exchange network of Q&A websites. Firefox has similar extensions too.
u 3G Kindle owners can fetch up-to-date newsfeeds with Kindlefeeder (http://kindlefeeder.com), an Amazon service that lets you aggregate your favourite feeds and have them delivered to your Kindle in a convenient, easy-to-navigate e-book.
u Want to carry your Google calendar of events (including weather forecasts for the next three days) on your Kindle? Download and install Klip.me Calendar to Kindle . This will sync all the events on your Google Calendar to your Kindle.