It’s been about a week since I have settled in with my new Kindle Paperwhite—much thanks and love to my sister Tammy for giving it to me! I have already posted a thorough review of the features. But now that I have settled in with it, how are things going? Are there are final thoughts I want to add now that I have had more time to read and enjoy?
Yes, actually. There are a few little bugs which annoy me about my almost-perfect little reader, and a few hidden treasures I have found as I have explored further. Here they are, in no particular order.
Feature: Footnotes Done Right
On the Kobo Glo, footnotes were a bit of a hassle. You could tap them like a hyperlink and go to the footnote, then hit the back button to return to your spot. But if the footnote took more than one screen to display, it was easy to get lost and have trouble going back to where you were. The Kindle does footnotes right: a quick tap, and they appear as a pop-up which you can read, and then close and resume your reading. I am reading a beautifully formatted annotated classic right now, and it’s a pleasure. I could never have read a book like this on the Kobo!
Bug: Power Button Annoyances
I read on the bus, and have lately been finding myself too easily distracted by the apps on my phone and by the queasiness I sometimes feel when reading on such a tiny screen while in motion. The Kindle seems more comfortable to read on, and I love that I can easily sync my progress across devices (I sometimes read on my iPad during my lunch break).
The problem? The power button on the Kindle is located on the bottom, and this has been creating an issue for me when I read on the bus. If I am lucky enough to get a seat, my backpack comes off and goes on my lap. This means that if I don’t hold the Kindle very carefully, my bag will bump up against it and whack the power button, putting it into sleep mode mid-read. If they had put it on the top side instead, I wouldn’t have to be so careful.
Feature: On-Board Store
Given how weird Kobo is about formats (a kepub loaded onto your device from the store never looks the same as a side-loaded plain old epub) I never shopped from them. The Kindle has no such issues, and a book from the store looks the same as a book from my Calibre library.
I had forgotten how nice it was to have the store right there on my reader! I recently finished a great book about the presidents and wanted to ;earn more. I went over to the store and merrily downloaded samples, then added a few to my wishlist right from the sample. And it was all so straightforward! The Kobo has special words for everything—your books are your ‘purchase history,’ your current reads are your ‘library’ and so on. The Kindle store? Wishlists, samples, books, the end. Very streamlined. I approve.
Bug: Vocabulary Builder
This was a great idea in theory, but in execution, it has caused me more annoyances then anything else. I wish I had the ability to turn it on only for selected languages. I would love to use it for my French books, but don’t like having words I look up for my English reading mixed in. And I find it annoying to have to go in there from time to time to clear up words I accidentally highlight.
I think they should offer a conformation step, the same way they do for highliting—when you highlight, it prompts you to highlight, share, or add an annotation. The dictionary should offer you an option to look up, translate or add to the vocabulary builder. It should not add every word to the vocabulary builder by default.
Feature: Tap Zones
The tap zones on the Kindle are much more reliable than those on the Kobo. On the Kobo, it did not seem to reliably call up a menu when I tapped where it should, and it was fiddly to get the controls active when I wanted them.
The Kindle’s clearly delineated tap zones make this a pleasure. It’s easy to turn the page, go back a page or call up a menu. Props to the Kindle!
Bug: Dictionary Snafus
I had this problem with a prior Kindle I owned, and it remains unfixed—not every Amazon-purchased dictionary will work with the built-in dictionary lookup feature. For instance, my French-English translation dictionary only allows itself to be set as an English dictionary, making it useless when reading French books. I have been relying on the built-in translate feature instead. But that feature requires a live internet connection, which I don’t always have…
I think Amazon needs to make it clearer in the Kindle store, regarding which dictionaries work with which language. Or they need to put in an override where you can manually set a language for it, even if the Kindle thinks it should be something else.
Feature: Sleep Cover
I have no idea what the cover on the Kindle is called—my sister included it when she sent the Kindle my way, but it doesn’t say on it what it’s called. But it’s a sleep cover just like the one I had for my Kobo, and it works beautifully.
Overall, I remain very happy. And I sold my Kobo Glo successfully too—for less than I had hoped for, but still—so I am happy with my current setup. Success all around! I look forward to reading on my new Kindle for a long time.
I’ve got a Kindle 3 that I’m keeping because I find its text-to-speech useful enough I’d miss it absence on the Paperwhite. Uses for TTS include out walking, when your eyes need to be looking around and riding a bus, where bouncing around can make reading tiring. I also found it a life-saver when I was so sick a couple of years back, all I could manage to do was lie in bed in the dark. I felt too rotten to download an audiobook, so I listened to a text book I already had
If Amazon is listening, my wish list is for a pocket-sized ePaper Kindle. Current models don’t fit in anything smaller than a coat pocket. And ruggedizing it and making it waterproof would make it an excellent choice for parents with kids too. Simplify the UI for kids too.
Those who think that our ancestors were such tech-illiterates that technology played no role in their long-ago romances, might enjoy Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes.
It’s about a romance between two telegraph operators. They even used terse abbreviations like today’s texting and the narrow bandwidth of such discussions also led to misunderstandings just like today. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Check the orientation option. It’s on the menu available when you have a book open.
Some eink Kindles offered the choice of all four orientations. I’ve just got Fires now but I always used upside down portrait if I needed to charge while I was reading. If that’s a Paperwhite option it might work for you.
I love my Paperwhite! It was my 5th Kindle, and it was the first one where I felt like there was nothing (except the missing-on-purpose TTS feature) in the design that needed improvement. There are some software changes I would like:
Make it an option to show a header with the book title all the time, not just when first opening the book
Restore the next/previous chapter with up and down page swipe function (I hear the newer Paperwhite has this)
Make highlighting and annotations for personal documents available on the web; I like to proofread manuscripts on my Kindle, but getting at my notes is cumbersome now!
I liked the “sleep cover.” I didn’t get it when I got the Kindle PW but I bought it later on sale. Somehow having the book “wake up” when I open the cover makes it much more more futuristic.