|By Aditya Banerjee||
|May 10, 2014 03:55 AM EDT||
Amazon has been on a relentless journey since the Kindle launch in 2007, steadily making improvements to the product range to arrive at the perfect e-book reader. In the current era of pervasive LCD screens, the e-ink screens in the Kindle readers make for a paper like reading experience (albeit grayscale). This is the USP for dedicated e-book readers in the current tablet and smartphone era. The Kindle devices (apart from the large screen Kindle DX) have stuck to 6” screens that seem to be the ideal size, resembling your typical paperbacks. The devices started off with physical keyboards in the pre-iPhone era, and gradually evolved to a more compact form factor letting go of the keyboard in the Kindle Touch and 4th generation Kindle.
The Kindle Paperwhite is the culmination of Amazon’s pursuit over the years, combining the essentials of an e-book reader with an attractive price point. Introduced in 2012 and upgraded last year, the Kindle Paperwhite is a near perfect e-book reader. The Pearl e-ink screen is of the de facto standard 6” size, with a 200+ dpi resolution resulting in print like readability and is the best of the current Kindle readers. There is also a special LED and fibre optics based backlight that can be adjusted to enable reading in poor lighting situations. In fact you can either turn off the light completely or turn it up to get rid of glare in most situations. While the first generation device had some complaints due to the non-uniform lighting in some devices, the second generation device has addressed this issue. Then there is also the touchscreen that makes for speedy navigation and organization of your collection. There are however no physical page turning buttons unlike the other Kindles, and this remains a bone of contention for some users. The touchscreen itself is not capacitive, but IR based due to which it can be activated by inadvertent contact with objects. It also supports multi touch (only 2 points though), and this can be used to adjust font size.
The device as a whole is quite lightweight (a little over 200 g which is around 50% heavier than a typical smartphone) and feels quite good in hand even though it is made of plastic with rounded edges. This also means that in case you doze off while reading on the bed, you are less likely to end up with injuries than your metallic tablets like the iPads. The Kindle Paperwhite has just one hardware button that functions as the power button. Apart from this the micro-USB port is the only discontinuity in the body. The device comes with just a USB cable in the box, and Amazon assumes that you have sufficient adapters at home to take care of the charging. Any standard USB adapter should do the trick for charging, and this is something that you will not need to do very often. Unlike smartphones with their daily and tablets with their near weekly charging requirements, the Kindle Paperwhite follows in its predecessor’s footsteps and gives a battery life of a month or more depending on usage. It’s been about 2 months since I bought my Kindle Paperwhite and have charged it twice thus far while having read over a dozen books.
The on device storage is just 2 GB with 1.25 GB usable for storing books. While that seems paltry by smartphone and tablet standards, e-books are typically text only and require very little storage space and the device should be able to comfortably accommodate hundreds of books, if not over a thousand. The Kindle Paperwhite also comes in 2 variants – Wi-Fi only and 3G, with a 20-30% premium for the latter. The 3G model is useful if you want to get hold of books on the go, but there are limits on the amount of data you can use per month since it comes with the connection built in (effectively Amazon subsidized) and you do not need to put in any SIM to use the network.
Getting content on the device is quite simple – just purchase your books from the Kindle bookstore. You can also side-load your own books into the device by connecting it to your PC, and add online articles and documents through mail.
The Kindle Paperwhite user interface is pretty simple to use and there is a brief walkthrough of the features on your first power up. The home screen can be configured to display the covers of your book library or just a title list. The interaction is mostly gesture based with the screen split into 3 tap zones while reading – the top brings up the menu, the right 2/3 for page turning and left 1/3 for turning back. You can also swipe up-down\left-right to progress through lists. You can also organize your library into collections, which is particularly useful for large libraries. The top menu serves as a navigation system with a home and back button, a button to adjust the backlight, open up the Kindle Store and other menu items including font settings. There is also an experimental browser that you can use for web browsing in a pinch, along with social media integration to share snippets from the content you are reading.
The X-ray feature is also quite useful, particularly when you are reading books that have lots of characters and places. X-ray gives you snippets on the characters as they appear in the book along with visualization of areas where they feature. The second generation Paperwhite also has GoodReads integration for additional information on books, page flip that allows you to literally flip through the book without moving away from the page you are reading. You can also look up definitions of words and phrases in the built in dictionary and refer to Wikipedia as well. The touchscreen is quite handy for this purpose, and can also be used to highlight portions of the text.
The software on the whole is quite non-intrusive and fades into the background once you get reading and turning the pages which is precisely the reason for getting an e-book reader.
Amazon Kindle Store
The Kindle Paperwhite and other Kindle devices are but one side of the Amazon value proposition. The real reason why Amazon is producing the Kindle devices and selling them at a nominal profit is to rope you into their ecosystem which in this case is the Kindle bookstore. In fact, Amazon does not mind you using a different device like your smartphone or tablet as long as you are buying content from their bookstore. This is the reason they have got a Kindle App for every major platform including iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The devices and apps also sync your reading progress through the cloud, so you can continue reading from where you left off as long as you are signed in to your Amazon account.
Amazon has tuned the Kindle Store experience to minimize the amount of time you need to wait to start reading the book of your choice. Not only can you buy books directly from the Kindle Paperwhite when connected to a network, but you can also buy from the Amazon website and have it delivered to the device of your choice. In case you are unsure of the book content, you can also sample the first few pages for free. While this may not be a perfect substitute for flipping through a book in a physical store, the overall experience is a comprehensive improvement. Just the way Amazon revolutionized e-commerce, the Kindle Store lets you sample, buy and then start reading the book of your choice in the matter of a few minutes without stepping outside of what you were doing.
The Kindle US Store has been around for a while, but the Indian version launched only last year with e-books priced very aggressively – well below paperback editions. Many a times you will find bestsellers and popular books including new releases available at a fraction of paperback costs. The range is also extensive, and includes a good variety of Indian authors in addition to the typical international catalogue. There are also a range of photo heavy books available along with comics and graphic novels. These are however consumed best on large colour screen tablets due to their fixed layout. To round off the content availability, you can also subscribe to blogs, newspapers and magazines.
Amazon has completely transformed the way we purchase and read books over the years. It started off as one of the first successful online stores selling books, and then made e-books mainstream through the Kindle e-ink readers and the Kindle Store. Granted that a dedicated e-book reader may not be for everyone, especially when it is priced around Rs 10,000. This is the reason that Amazon also has the regular Kindle priced at a little over half of the Kindle Paperwhite for budget conscious readers. That device sacrifices the touchscreen and backlight along with some software features. In case you are looking for a general purpose device that also serves as a reader, Amazon has got you covered with the Kindle Fire devices that start just above the Kindle Paperwhite’s price.
That said, the Kindle Paperwhite in tandem with the massive collection in form of the Kindle Store makes for a very attractive value proposition. The device has an excellent backlit, sharp, paper-like screen with a multi-week battery life in a compact and lightweight form populated by the best bookstore in the world. If you have the budget, the Kindle Paperwhite is the best reading experience you can buy this year.
Note: An earlier version of this article appeared in On the Rox magazine
Filed under: Thoughts Tagged: amazon, Books, Kindle, Paperwhite, Review
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Sep. 5, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,628
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Sep. 5, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 257
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Sep. 5, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 680
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Sep. 5, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 175
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, will discuss how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the data to create additional revenue streams, such as improved warranties or premium features. Or slash...
Sep. 5, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 145
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
Sep. 5, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 205
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...
Sep. 5, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 178
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Sep. 5, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 365
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
Sep. 5, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,081
Containers are not new, but renewed commitments to performance, flexibility, and agility have propelled them to the top of the agenda today. By working without the need for virtualization and its overhead, containers are seen as the perfect way to deploy apps and services across multiple clouds. Containers can handle anything from file types to operating systems and services, including microservices. What are microservices? Unlike what the name implies, microservices are not necessarily small, but are focused on specific tasks. The ability for developers to deploy multiple containers – thous...
Sep. 5, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 257
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Sep. 5, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 316
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Sep. 5, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 781
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Sep. 5, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 335
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
Sep. 5, 2015 07:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,667
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Sep. 5, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 527
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on demos and comprehensive walkthroughs.
Sep. 5, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 466
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Sep. 5, 2015 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,740
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
Sep. 5, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 306
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sep. 5, 2015 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,015
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be.
Sep. 5, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 275