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by Jiří {x2} Činčura

Kindle 5 Paperwhite review

17 Oct 2012 Amazon Kindle

It has been few days with my Kindle 5 Paperwhite. I was curious about the new frontlight. I have to say I was happy with Kindle 4 Touch, as well with previous versions. But Amazon again came with something I had to see and try. And this one seemed pretty interesting (well as with the touch few years back ;)).

First and foremost, I like Kindles. I read a lot thanks to Kindles. And I’m not going to describe all the cons we all know and were cons with Kindle 4 Touch or even Kindle 3 Keyboard. All applies here too. I’ll describe only changes – good or bad - that I feel, as an advanced user, moving from Kindle 4 Touch.

First it’s the turn on experience. In previous one, you pushed the button on bottom and that was it. Now you have to press the button and swipe the screen. One more step. I don’t know whether there was massive number of users turning on Kindle in i.e. backpack and messing up with books, but never ever that happened to me. So I see this as a weird change.

Talking about more steps, new Kindle misses the home button previous one had. Now it’s completely, absolutely, touch only. Not sure about it. I used the button because it was there, but I was not relying on it that much. Now if you want to i.e. go from book to home screen (to do something else) you have to touch the top 1/6th (guessing) and touch home icon. Yes, it’s a more steps, but I’m not doing that that often. And actually often while also checking time on Kindle (to see whether I have time for something else, like an another book etc.), so the top bar is visible. Let’s see how it turns out.

There’s also slightly new design of the UI (nothing fancy) and new view for home screen. It’s called Cover View and basically shows book covers of your books. Though great idea, i.e. on iPhone it’s very good, it’s somehow somewhat half baked here. By default you see only 3 books (collections included) in one (top) row and the bottom row is filled with recommended books (similar selection to one you see on various places on Amazon’s site). And you cannot turn it off. Well you can. Turn on parental control and turn off the store (you can still buy books through website from computer). Half baked, in my opinion. Hope it’ll be changed with next firmware.

On the other hand, what’s pretty damn good is the feature learning your reading speed and with this knowledge showing you time to next chapter (or similar mark). Great idea.

The frontlight is good. Though as Scott Hanselman already pointed, it’s not same across the whole surface, works good in dark room. You don’t need any other light. And outside or in a room where there’s enough light, it doesn’t bother. You can leave it on.

Because Kindle is also about reading, it’s good you have now wider selection of fonts. You can use Baskerville, Caecilia, Caecilia Condensed, Futura, Helvetica and Palatino. I personally need on Kindle, probably because the screen is more like a book than a computer/tablet display, serif fonts. Caecilia is default, but compared to Baskerville and Palatino not that nice (my opinion). I tried Baskerville, but I think it’s too thin and precise for Kindle’s screen. Palatino looks best (again, for me).

The fonts are related to screen. I’m sure the new one is better, simply because it’s another generation, so there was/is probably some improvement, but I was fine with previous one too. (I don’t want to judge based even on feelings, because I’m afraid I’ll be skewed to say it’s better because of simple fact, it’s a new toy. :))

Size is little bit smaller compared to previous one. Scott Hanselman said he has a problem comfortably holding it. I had same problem with Kindle 4 Touch, but once I find the trick to grab it, it’s not a problem. And same applies to the new one – not a problem.

Overall the system seems to be little bit faster, but I didn’t done any scientific measurements, just feel. New fonts, reading speed and frontlight are I think key new features. Maybe the first two will be available to previous Kindles with firmware update, who knows. Do I still like it? Yes. Do I regret buying? No. Any questions? Feel free to ask in comments.