Kindle Book Reader

Kindle Book ReaderI read 6 books on my recent 9 week bicycle trip; that was a lot of weight and space to pack away and peddle uphill, plus finding more books along the way was a problem.

This summer (2013) there is another trip in the offing, and I needed a different option for carrying reading material. In the past, I read two books on my smartphone & tablet, but was not overly thrilled by the experience so continued to read hardcover and paperback books. I am 67 years old so have many years of ‘holding a physical book’ in my background; enter the Kindle Paperwhite into my life.

The Kindle weighs 7.3 ounces: it weighs a little less than one normal size paperback book. The Kindle is 4.5″ x 6.63″ x 0.25″; it takes up significantly less space than one paperback book. The battery charges with a mini-USB cable which is the same as my smartphone; multiple charging systems are not required. The Paperwhite version has a self contained light; a separate book light is not required. The Paperwhite version has an extended battery life; minimal charging is required. Other than the on/off button all controls come from a touch screen. On the surface, the Kindle Paperwhite seems to fit my needs very well.

Reading: I have enjoyed reading the Kindle Paperwhite more than I thought I would; there was less transition from physical book to Kindle than I anticipated. The screen is plenty bright and easily adjustable from high to low; I keep it set in the middle. The non-glare screen makes reading pleasant and easy on the eye regardless of the reading screen angle. The font size is easily adjustable; larger sizes for those needing it and smaller sizes for less page turning. There is an easily accessible dictionary for those ‘unknown’ words you run across. The Kindle has a ‘Goto’ function that easily allows me to find any chapter, section, or page. Holding it at the correct distance for reading is easy, and pages are turned forward/backward by touching my thumbs to lightly on either side of the screen.

Pictures: Obviously, the pictures that come with a Kindle book are shown in black and white. The picture quality seems to rival those in most good paperback books which is generally less than the larger hardcover editions. For me, this is good enough; if I were purchasing a book for the pictures then I would probably buy the hardcover book, rather than a Kindle or paperback version.

Handling: I tend to hold the Kindle with my fingers on the back and my thumb resting along the sides of the front. Fortunately, there is a 0.5″ bezel on the sides of the reading screen which provides sufficient space for my thumbs so that they do not obscure the screen. The back of the Kindle has a slightly rubberized feeling to help with grip, but in my case, I would have preferred more. It is a lot easier holding the Kindle at the correct reading position because there is no need to physically hold the book open.

Extras: The Kindle comes with WiFi for connection to Amazon, vocabulary builder for helping to improve word and spelling understanding, highlighting special passages and sharing them on social networks, parental controls for those with children, passcodes to control usage, airplane mode to turn off the WiFi network. Books can be read directly off the Kindle or from the Amazon Cloud. There are other items contained in the Kindle that can be accessed when the top tool bar is activated.

Battery Life: I have been reading 1-2 hours per day, and the battery in mine lasts a little over a week. This is sufficient for my purposes.

Charging: The Kindle comes with a USB to mini-USB charging cable, but no charger. In my case, I have a pile of USB chargers left over from all sorts of devices and have been using a 2 amp charger from a Samsung tablet which works very well.

Cons: You might develop sticker shock if you typically purchase physical books from a used bookstore or participate in a book exchange program. There are a lot of free books through Amazon and Amazon Prime and some very low cost books, unfortunately, not one the books on my ‘list’ has fallen into those categories. Also, you will not end up with a physical book to pass along to friends. Electronics can, and do, fail due to a number of factors: manufacturing defects, rough handling, and age, just to mention a few. Theft results in the loss of a $100+ device versus a $10 paperback. Charging requires electricity: physical books last forever.

Overall: I am excited about the Kindle and have enjoyed using it; hopefully my opinion will not change after the bicycle trip. Trying it out at home has convinced me that I will take it along on my trip barring something going amiss in the next few months.

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