What is a kindle? What do various different kindles offer? What is the difference between a Fire Kindle and Paperwhite ?
Sharing a very informative review by John Ryan in Amazon which will answer all these questions.
What Devices are available?
As of July 2015, Amazon have the following Kindle devices on sale:-
- Kindle 6″
- Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (212 dpi – launched October 2013)
- New Kindle Paperwhite 7th Gen (300 dpi – launched July 2015)
- Kindle Voyger
- Kindle Fire – 6″ or 7″ colour tablet computers at around
This is a review of the Kindle Paperwhite launched July 2015. Essentially. the same as the previous Kindle Paperwhite but with a fantastic upgraded (300 dpi) screen, more memory and storage it’s a terrific reading device. This review aims to describe both this product, and compare it with the other Kindle devices available to help you choose the best one for you.
It’s broken up into sections so you can skip the less interesting bits. If you’re in a hurry I’ve included a summary at the start, and a Frequently Asked Questions section at the end.
Summary – What can you do with it?
- Read a book. It can store 1,000s of books – take an entire library away with you on holiday.
- Buy a book. You can browse the Amazon kindle store, and buy books over a WIFI connection
- Borrow a book. Using the Kindle Owners Library you can borrow one of 60,000 books (if you have Amazon Prime Membership)
- Share your books. Using Amazon Family Library to link two Amazon accounts and four children and share your books with the entire family
- Highlight a section. Using the touch screen, you can highlight a particulary interesting few lines. If several people highlight the same section, that’s also indicated.
- Record a bookmark. To come back to it later
- Read a book on your Kindle, continue on your smartphone or tablet computer, and it will jump to your last known position
- Look up a word, and record them in the vocabulary builder
- Track a characters appearance throughout a book using the “X Ray” feature.
- Read for weeks without needing to recharge – typically 4-6 weeks
- Share you books (Multiple Kindles on the same account, or “family sharing”)
- Access every book you’ve ever owned “on the cloud” – available for download within seconds over WIFI or 3G..
So you’re faced with a few devices, plus additional options. Which to buy? Here’s a quick summary in order of cost.
*** The entry level Kindle ***
An entry level black and white (e-ink) book reader, it has a 6 inch touch screen with enough storage to hold thousands of books, and a battery which should last around 4 weeks.
A terrific device to read books, and a worthy contender. For the technically minded, it has a 1Ghz processor and 4Gb of memory with an E-ink display. Essentially this means it’s (a) Black and White (b) Fantastic to read even in bright sunlight (c) Requires very little power – hence the battery lasts for weeks instead of hours.
*** New Kindle Paperwhite ***
Launched in 2015, this is really an upgrade adding a super-sharp display with 300 pixels per inch – the same as the top of the range Voyage. The high resolution screen does provide a crisp text which is pleasing to the eye, but battery life is reduced from 8 weeks of the “original Paperwhite” to 6 weeks – but still a very long time.
Compared to the existing (2013) Paperwhite it also includes double the memory which means it’s faster and slicker than before, and a new “Bookerly” font plus better presentation of fonts on screen.
If you have an existing Paperwhite it’s probably not worth upgrading. However, if you own a prior device, you’ll notice the huge leap in screen quality, contrast and performance.
*** The Voyage ***
Far more expensive that Paperwhite, this is thinner and 26g lighter. It has more of a “quality” feel with the screen flush with the e-reader body which makes it look more like a tablet, and keeps direct from getting caught in the edges. The back has a “soft touch” plastic finish which feels lovely in the hand, and it has new “Page Press” buttons on the side to turn the pages. When the buttons are pressed there’s a gentle vibration for feedback (nice touch). It has 4Gb of storage (same as the Paperwhite), and a similar battery which should last around 6 weeks on a single charge.
Although it has the same sharp (300 dpi) screen as the Paperwhite, the backlight includes an ambient light sensor so it automatically adjusts to different lighting conditions. This means if you read it the dark it will automatically adjust the brightness so it doesn’t look too bright. In addition, you’ll find when you switch off the room light your eyes naturally become accustomed to the darkness. To compensate, the Voyage automatically softens the light slightly. A lovely example of attention to detail in this premium device.
*** Kindle Fire Tablet Computer ***
The “Kindle Fire” range is a very different beast to the rest of the Kindle range. Similar to the Apple iPad mini, it has a high resolution screen, a fast processor and lots of memory with a colour screen and a much shorter battery life – hours rather than weeks. Although you can read books on a “Fire” using the Amazon Kindle App, you’ll find the Kindle with it’s sharp black and white screen far more like reading a physical book. You’ll find it produces less eye strain, and whereas a tablet computer is better suited to surfing the web, watching videos and reading eMails, the Kindle is a dedicated “book reader” device.
Unlike a Kindle, the Fire produces light at the blue end of the spectrum which means it may make it harder for you to sleep. The Paperwhite and Voyage also ave the advantage of a soft white back-light which is far more suited to reading in bed, and it won’t for example, wake your partner if reading in the dark.
Finally, unlike the rest of the Kindle range, the Fire is almost useless in bright sunlight so while it’s fine for everyday use, it’s less useful on holiday. The Kindle range of devices are perfect to take away on holiday as they can carry thousands of books, and are a pleasure to read even in bright sunlight.
What other options do I have?
Having decided upon the model (Kindle, Paperwhite, Voyage or Fire), the next decision is around:-
- Special Offers – ie. adverts
- 3G or WIFI connection
Personally I have no issue with adverts on a Kindle. They only appear on screen when the screen saver is on, and are not at all distracting.
The 3G option is a more difficult question. This effectively means you can use your kindle to buy or download books “over-the-air” instead of at home or near a WIFI hotspot. Personally I went for the WIFI model as the saving is considerable, but it’s a personal choice. Of course if you won’t have WIFI at home, then you’ll need the 3G option.
One point worth mentioning however, is if you have a modern smartphone, you can always create a “Personal Hotspot” or local WIFI signal that your Kindle (or indeed any other WIFI device) can connect to. Got to Settings —> Personal Hotspot on your mobile to set one up, and you can connect your WIFI only Kindle while you’re out and about.
If you love books but your on a budget, the original Kindle with WIFI and special offers is a great option. You’ll still be able to carry thousands of book around with you, but you’ll lose out on the soft white back-light and super crisp display of the Papwerwhite.
The Kindle Paperwhite is your next best option and is a terrific device for reading with a superb 300 dpi super-sharp screen. Finally, there’s the top of the range Voyage with the “page press” buttons and ambient light sensor which automatically adjusts the brightness.
If you’re in the market for a “Tablet Computer” then the Kindle Fire range is worth considering, but you’ll get a better “book reading” experience on the Kindle. Myself I have both a Paperwhite and an iPad Air 2. I was skeptical at first, but the Kindle is a perfect device for reading with one hand (on the train), and the back-light and long battery life a huge bonus.
Frequently Asked Questions?
Q: What file format will a Kindle read?
A: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively in addition to HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion
Q: What? It doesn’t support EPUB format?
A: No – but you can convert your EPUB books using a freely available program called “Calibre”. Simple search for “You Tube um0teoAR6zw” and you’ll see a video explaining how to do this. Simples.
Q: If I lose my Kindle, do I lose my books as well?
A: No. All books are available on your Amazon account to download on a new device.
Q: Can I save my place in the book?
A: Yes. It will automatically save your place, and if you resume on other device it will prompt you to jump to that position.
Q: I often need reading glasses – can I adjust the font size?
A: Yes. There’s a range of fonts, and sizes to suit all tastes
Q: Can I share books with my partner or children?
A: Yes. You can now share your books using “Amazon Family Library” to link two Amazon accounts and four children and share your books with the entire family
Q. Can I use a Kindle to read in bed?
A. Yes. But only on the Paperwhite and Voyage models. It’s a pleasure to read in the dark with a soft white light. For the base Kindle model you’ll need the light on
Q. Are there any free books available?
A. Yes! Over 40,000 classic titles are available for free (out of copyright), and they can be legally downloaded. If you have a “Amazon Prime” membership you can also borrow a book from the Kindle Owners Library which includes around 60,000 books.
Q: How long does the battery last?
A: Depending upon model, you should get between 4 and 6 weeks between charges on around 30 minutes of reading per day. I’ve certainly found I’ve gone for weeks without charging the device
Q: How long does it take to charge?
A: From absolutely flat, around 4 hours
Q: How many books will the Kindle hold?
A: Literally thousands. You can also download every book you’ve ever owned from your Amazon account – so the list is quite literally unlimited.
Q: Do I need anything else?
A: You’ll need a smartphone charger or laptop with a USB socket as the Kindle range doesn’t come with a charger (but the Fire does). Amazon also offer an additional charger to buy if you need it. Some people also buy a “cover”, but I think this is not really needed. It adds to the weight, and is not really needed. It will protect your Kindle from a drop however, and protect the screen if it’s left knocking around in a bag.
So Kindle is a must for all mankind…