Kindle Paperwhite 2013–My thoughts

pw_tnSo my wife told me to order the new Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday. I figured they would fix the issues with the screen and I could sell mine for a good price since, lets be honest, this latest version isn’t much of an upgrade. I went to read the reviews and the first one-star review I read gave me pause. He is experiencing the same screen issues I saw with the first-gen Paperwhite. The same issue that had me send my Paperwhite back several times. But it was only one guy, the other one-star complaints were bordering on ridiculous.

But then I scratched my head and I asked myself… what hardware differences exist between this model and last years? … Supposedly a faster processor – this wouldn’t matter to readers as we don’t have apps on this thing.. so whether or not this is true? Doesn’t really matter.

Secondly, they changed the case. There is now a large Amazon logo on the back. Some folks complained but Amazon explained that the name Amazon is more familiar worldwide than Kindle – which adorned the back of the first-gen Paperwhite. I’m not really one to care about stuff that is going to be hidden in a case anyway. I’ll call this a wash.

Finally, they redesigned the light guides so there are less uneven spots like what last years model had. This is the hardware aspect that interests me the most. I was promised even lighting in the first-gen model, and it took me a lot of returns to get one that most closely delivered on that promise.

So what changes will matter most to readers? Software. There are some new features, such as the device remembering when you look up a word. It tosses the word into a deck of on-screen cards so you can expand your vocabulary. This could be of some use to me since I tend to use the same twenty-six words over and over again. It’s true. This article was written with only twenty-six words. Count them.  .. okay, don’t. I lied about that. But it could come in handy. Who doesn’t like appearing well edju-ma-cated?

Then there is upcoming Goodreads integration. If anyone is patient enough to write a book review on the Kindle, they are a better person than I. The integration though seems to have more to do with what your friends are reading and recommending. Similar to what we saw with Barnes & Noble’s NOOKfriends software.

Another new feature is Page Flip. An option that lets you bounce between different areas of the book, like those maps in Game of Thrones without leaving the page you’re on. Improved footnote handling is also advertised. Now the callouts are handled on the current screen, without bouncing you to another part of the book.

There are a couple of other little things both hardware and software wise that seem less notable. But the biggest changes are software.. and it sort of irritates me that existing owners aren’t given the opportunity to purchase a software upgrade. I see nothing in that new software feature set that requires a faster processor.

I’m sure at least a few of you would consider a $20-$30 upgrade to the new software if you were interested in the new features. Especially considering $20-$30 is more than Amazon is making on the hardware they are selling. We hear all the time that Kindle’s are a loss leader; it’s the books and apps that they make money on. Why not make a chunk of change on the OS too?

I guess the whole point of this was to think my decision to buy out loud. I really like my Kindle Paperwhite 2012 but it does have just the tiniest bit of uneven lighting. It’s very minor. But I am very interested in some of the software features, particularly the upcoming Goodreads integration. And Page Flip will come in handy when reading Game of Thrones, so will X-Ray for that matter – but that’s not a new feature.

So yes, I think the Paperwhite 2013 is worth a shot. But you can bet that I’ll be getting a perfect model this time. No compromise. The Paperwhite 2012 is almost perfect, the new software isn’t compelling enough to accept ‘almost perfect’ again.

Wish me luck. This could be the last eInk eReader I buy for a very long time.

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