Sometimes, the simplest gadgets can be the most useful. Why is the humble digital music player still popular (like the iPod shuffle, Creative’s designs, and others) when smartphones can play music files? What makes it marketable to this day? Often, it’s because since it has only a single purpose—unlike other gadgets that have so many features—and the people who design or create them are able to pour all their effort into making it the best for that one purpose. Sometimes we just need a gadget that does one important thing. After all, as impressive as an iPad is, it’s a bit cumbersome to take along when jogging.
Less can be more!
Maybe it’s just me liking the simple things, but I think that having one thing that does one job well instead of one multi-purpose thing that cuts corners to make room for other features is another. For example, I personally enjoy using e-readers to read my pdfs, online fax, and documents instead of the backlit screens of tablets. The latter can really make your eyes hurt after a while. The chief advantage of Amazon’s Kindle line is that it allows its users to read books and documents swiftly, clearly, and without having to deal with screen glare or headaches. Now, their focus on the Kindle (the world’s most well-known and most relied-upon e-reader) bears fruit again with the release of the Kindle Paperwhite Display.
One of the chief complaints involving the last Kindle generation was its lack of backlighting. Somewhat contradictory to the purpose of the e-ink that made Kindle so popular, maybe, but most users feel that they just need a little more contast or a bit more light to read by in dark locations. Some people like to read at night or in bed without having to switch a nightlight on. The Paperwhite addresses this without resorting to the eye-straining backlight of the LED screens popular in most gadgets today.
Similar to Barnes and Nobles’ Nook with Glow, it retains frontlighting, which gives readers the ability to see the text in the dark without disturbing anyone else around them. The subtle lighting will also keep headaches at bay after long hours of staring at a screen.
What changed, what stays the same
The Paperwhite has a pixelated display like before, but there is a substantial increase in the volume of pixels (62% in fact). Comparing the old Kindle (3rd Generation) to this new Paperwhite display Kindle, the text looks incredibly sharp with great contrast, which makes for even easier reading. The device itself retains the lightness and thinness that makes Kindles so handy to carry around, being only 9.1mm thick. It also changes the level of the display at the touch of a finger—yes, this means that the new Kindle is a touchscreen, like the Kindle Touch.
Another handy feature (especially for people who have the nasty habit of saying “one more chapter, and then I’ll go to bed” before finding themselves still awake at daybreak) is that it gives you a hint of how long it takes before you get to the next chapter. This makes for very efficient reading, and a heightened reading experience, which is what the Kindle (simple e-reader as it is) specializes in and elevates.
I love my Kindle. I don’t just get Kindle books for it–Baen Webscriptions sells science fitoicn e-books that the Kindle can display (plus they have a bunch of free ones you can download) and Fictionwise even has a document I loaded onto my Kindle that has links to a lot of the free Gutenberg project e-books so I can download them whenever I want.If you want books you can share, the Baen Webscription e-books have no DRM so you can pass your copy on to a friend when you’re done with it.I used the Kindle to annotate a manuscript (I mailed the Word Doc to my free.kindle.com address and got the converted file back in minutes, and loaded it on the Kindle via the USB cord as a simple drag-and-drop operation, though I could have had it loaded on the Kindle via the wireless for 10 cents) for a friend and being able to search and write notes in the margins was really handy.I get the New York Times Latest News blog–it’s about 2$ a month, and a lot more convenient than trying to use the Kindle’s web browser (or even my Mac’s web browser) to get the same amount of news off the net.Being able to download samples takes a lot of the nailbiting out of such Amazon books as I do buy for it.I live in New Market–if you’re interested we could arrange to meet someplace and you could try out the Kindle for yourself. Though Amazon has a 30 day return policy, so the risk in ordering one is fairly minimal.
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