Review Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader solved several issues for me and overcame an iPad shortcoming. If only that didn’t also make me guilty of adding another device to my already infested computer life.
As I slide into middle age, I wear reading glasses more often. I came to them quite late in life and have an iPad that allows me to read e-books with enlarged text, so it took a while to get used to using my specs normally. But using a tablet creates the modern problem of being distracted: at night, I can fall asleep before reading much of a book. Another problem is that the strong light from a tablet is not appreciated by the other person in bed.
My solution to both of these problems is the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition from Amazon.
If you’ve used a Kindle before, you’ll be very familiar with the Paperwhite 2021 experience. It’s a slim unit that doesn’t have much except its black and white e-ink display that flickers a bit as you swipe to turn the pages. The device is intertwined with Amazon’s eBook store, but tolerates DRM-free books from elsewhere if you learn a trick or two.
Amazon’s new Kindle Signature Edition.
Click to enlarge.
The new Paperwhite adds USB-C and, in the Signature Edition, wireless charging. The user interface has also been updated, including a setup routine that shows how to guide users through their first 15 minutes with a device and sync it with their digital worlds.
At night it shines – literally and in a well-toned way that makes the text readable in the dark but won’t disturb anyone nearby, whether in bed or on the plane (if either of us flies again). It renders the text and illustrations quite well – I could read comics on it, but I wouldn’t choose to.
Overall, the device is quick and nice, but not without small flaws.
I find the Paperwhite a bit too small and it doesn’t offer landscape mode to provide an alternative grip. Increasing the size of the text to the point where I can read it without specs means that little text is arriving on the virtual page – allowing enough page turns to make the setup for good reading look like it is. accompanied by a continuous burst.
Menus can be difficult to find and are not intuitively nested. It would also be nice if the USB-C port could accommodate headphones, so that Amazon’s excellent sync between e-books and audiobooks could be implemented. That would make sense, given that the Paperwhite comes with 32GB of memory.
But overall it’s a delight.
Now for a confession
The Paperwhite has found its place as the fourth computer that I use at different times of the day.
I use my phone in the morning to keep in touch with the world and listen to the news on the radio, then switch to my tablet to use a newspaper reader app. Then come several hours of writing this stuff on a PC, before returning to my phone to play before dinner, then often using my tablet to research a recipe for dinner. After dinner, I’m back on the phone to solve my daily word puzzle, before getting on the Kindle to read.
It is, I confess fortunately, quite decadent.
That the Kindle has increased the number of computers I use each day to four seems significant. But it also made me feel rather guilty that the $ 190 Paperwhite Signature Edition has become a part of my life when a little discipline and my $ 329 iPad should really be enough.
Apple recently added a feature called Focus to iOS that promises to set up time windows during which only certain apps will run. I have tried using it to create a bedtime regime on my iPad that allows e-reading apps but prevents me from using a browser, email client, or social media. Unfortunately, Focus could not specify the use of these applications.
This is how the Paperwhite cemented its role as the fourth computer in my life, and my use of the iPad fell.
I think my well-being has improved too. I’ve been browsing some novels recently and can’t wait to do more, rather than browsing even more news and social media. With the exception, of course, of The register. ®