Kindle vs Kindle - back to basics

Published November 30, 2012

I wrote some initial impressions about the Kindle Paperwhite when it first arrived, and looking back, I think I was very generous. It was a disappointment but I tried to temper the frustrations with the knowledge that there were benefits for me (3G and touchscreen), and it was supposedly a cutting edge product - they knew it wasn’t perfect.

Unfortunately, after a month using the device most lunchtimes, I have given up. This week, I deregistered the Kindle, and went back to my previous version - a simpler, but more reliable product.

Here are my main reasons why:

  • The battery life is just awful. I was super impressed with the battery life on my first Kindle, but then realised that, although it is an electronic device, it’s trying to replace the book. Having to charge it up once every month or so was  incredible, but seemed about right. If you did let it run low, it would start warning you but let you keep reading, just bringing up the low-battery message if you hadn’t turned a page in a while. I have already charged the Paperwhite up three times, and when I was reading one lunchtime, it came up with one abrupt warning and then two minutes later shut off with no return.
  • The touchscreen is more annoying than I thought it would be. I like the graphical interface, and seeing the covers of the book is really very useful. But when I’m reading, I keep brushing against the screen, turning the page and losing my place. For this, I think a physical button to move around is more useful.
  • I was looking forward to the 3G for syncing between devices easier, but actually, it takes ages to connect. By the time it’s found the location to which it should be syncing, I have checked the app on my phone, had that sync to the right place, then entered the location into the Go To section of the Kindle and got there that way.
  • I actually don’t like the feel of it. The rubber back is weird on my hands, and it leaves awful smudge marks. I’m used to messing up touchscreen devices with my fingerprints, but this is a whole new type of sticky print.

It’s not been all doom and gloom, and there are a couple of things I will miss. The on-screen keyboard is one of them. It wasn’t until I went to re-enter the wifi password on the old Kindle that I quite remembered how awful it is to navigate with just a few buttons. It’s a small price to pay, though, considering how rarely I actually need to type anything anyway.

The other good point is highlighting. It’s not exactly difficult to do with the keys, but it can be a bit clunky. With the touchscreen, you just drag your finger over the relevant text and tap the highlight button. Done. It’s not quite as easy as on the iPhone app, where you drag your finger over the text and it’s highlighted - but I find myself doing that inadvertently and highlighting all kinds of random half-sentences.

I’m disappointed that the Paperwhite didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m more disappointed that it wasn’t even good enough to compromise and live with, despite the drawbacks. It very much felt like I was back being an early adopter again, and whilst Amazon did admit the lighting was a new development project and should be treated as such, the rest should not have been a step backwards.

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