The Kindle Paperwhite is okay, but certainly not ideal

imagesWell, I’ve been using this thing for two weeks now, I think. And it’s pretty good. Gets the most points for the navigation. It’s fairly easy to go back and forth. When you tap a footnote, it doesn’t zoom you over to some other section of the book–the footnote just opens up on top of your document. You can open the table of contents and flick forward or backward to check out what’s around, without ever having to sacrifice your current page.

I like the reading light a lot. It lights up well and evenly and it’s easy to adjust levels. They say you can’t ever turn it completely off, but when you put it to the lowest level, it’s pretty off. However, I’ve found that even when there is some ambient light, it’s often more comfortable to have the reading light on at least a little bit, so there’s more contrast (it helps to alleviate the classic e-reader problem, which is that, since the background is grey and the text is black, it sometimes wearies the eyes.)

I did, however, have to manually recreate my collections, which was awful. It easy took a few hours to do what (by using Calibre) I’d been able to do in a few minutes on the Kobo.

Furthermore, I’ve already experienced major technical glitches. For one thing, I noticed that my battery life was abysmal. I was having to charge it every two or three days. Now, new Kindles often have poor battery life because they’re indexing all the books you put on, so that they’ll be searchable. However, that usually takes a few days, not a few weeks. I eventually realized that the indexing had gotten stuck, so I deleted the index and forced the Kindle to reindex. It continued to get stuck. Most of the time, I managed to get the indexing going again by restarting the Kindle, but eventually it halted entirely.

Finally, I got fed up and decided to just do a factory reset and–from now on–only keep a few books on the Kindle. This is radically different from how I’ve normally done things (normally I like to have a larger number of options as to what to read next), but the alternative was to just accept extremely poor battery life.

However, the latest Kindle update includes the ability to store your collections in the cloud. This has, to a certain extent, made it a bit easier to keep fewer books in the local memory. Using the Kindle device I can (laboriously) arrange all my books into collections and browse through the titles in the cloud. It’s only when I am thinking about actually reading them that I need to tap on them and download them to the mirrored collection in my device’s local memory. And, hopefully, these cloud collections won’t disappear each time I upgrade devices or do a factory re-set.

Tori Spellings’ memoir bricked by Kobo Glo

My sadly-unusable e-Reader

And I have NO regrets. Fine use of a day. Even if it did brick my Kobo Glo. What a piece of crap.

In my search for the perfect eReader, I’ve owned a huge number of them: a Kindle DX, a Kindle 4, a Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, a Sony PRS-500, and, most recently, a Kobo Glo–basically one for each year that I’ve been using e-readers. None of them have been particularly satisfactory.

It would not be hard to make a perfect e-reader. All you’d need is the following elements:

  1. Six inch screen – So it can fit in my pocket
  2. Physical buttons for turning to the next page – Because when 95% of your interaction with a device is to do just one thing, then it makes sense for there to be a button to it–reaching over to tap the screen is more work and movement than just resting your finger on the “next page” button and flicking over to the next one.
  3. Lit-up screen – Because the greyish screen of an e-ink reader is particularly unsuitable for reading in low-light conditions
  4. Somewhat-durable – Because I am carrying it in my pocket
  5. The ability to manage collections using Calibre – Because it is hard to manually go through a library of 500+ books on a clunky eReader screen and try to manually sort them into categories

But no e-reader has all these elements. Of them, the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight probably comes closest, but the physical buttons on that machine are so unresponsive that it actually hurts my thumb to push them. And the screen developed a tiny and extremely annoying defect on my very first day of ownership, so I saw the writing on the wall and returned it.

My regular old $69 Kindle 4 has all of these features except for the backlit screen.

For awhile, I’d resigned myself to the Kobo Glo. The only thing it lacked was the physical buttons. (Although its interface was punishing–the Glo had no back button, or even back functionality, so that if you followed a link to somewhere in a book, then you were stuck there. It was impossible to get back to where you’d come from) It was extremely annoying, but I even finally accustomed myself to the touch-screen interface. But today, after just five months of ownership, the screen froze and it would do nothing. I called Kobo (since it was still within the warranty period), but they insisted that I’d damaged it and refused to replace it.

I’ve since tried to return to my Kindle, but now I’ve become accustomed to the backlit screen.

Ay mi. I think that next I’ll try the Kindle Paperwhite.