Things I’ve noticed about the Kindle Paperwhite

First of all, it’s ter­rif­ic.

I was sur­prised to find that the front­light can nev­er be turned com­plete­ly off while the Kin­dle is awake.

Also regard­ing the front­light, I’m pleas­ant­ly sur­prised that, when it’s set at a mod­est lev­el in a dim­ly-lit room, it has the appear­ance of not being lit at all, but mere­ly of being more “white” than it is and as a result reflect­ing more ambi­ent light, almost mag­i­cal­ly so. I didn’t expect to want to leave the light on all the time, but for this rea­son, I do.

When set too high, or when in a too-dark room, there is an appear­ance of uneven­ness with the light­ing, but it’s not ter­ri­bly dis­tract­ing.

What is a bit dis­tract­ing is how sur­re­al it can look when some­thing (like your thumb or head) is cast­ing a shad­ow on the sur­face in cer­tain light­ing; the area around the shad­ow looks most­ly illu­mi­nat­ed by the ambi­ent light, and the area under the shad­ow has an odd blue glow to it, since the frontlight’s effect is more appar­ent there.

Hav­ing fonts oth­er than Cae­cil­ia is nice, although I can’t imag­ine any­body want­i­ng to read for any length of time in Futu­ra or Hel­veti­ca. Baskerville is of course clas­sic for type­set­ting books, but because of its del­i­cate let­ter­forms and small x-height doesn’t real­ly suit the (rel­a­tive­ly) low-con­trast and (rel­a­tive­ly) low-res­o­lu­tion Kin­dle. There doesn’t seem to be an ide­al “small” font size for Baskerville, at least not for my eyes. For these rea­sons I’ve so far stuck with Palati­no, a font that I don’t real­ly like very much, but which is less “artificial”-feeling than Cae­cil­ia, any­way.

The new UI ele­ments (and the font in which they’re set, some Futu­ra-like geo­met­ric I can’t iden­ti­fy) are real­ly attrac­tive. You can tell a lot of time was spent here and it gives the device a lot more per­son­al­i­ty and fin­ish.

As expect­ed, I’m frus­trat­ed by the lack of a hard­ware page-turn but­ton, par­tic­u­lar­ly while read­ing in bed, where (with the face of the Kin­dle point­ed slight­ly down­ward) my thumb becomes a cru­cial sup­port point, and is there­fore not free to tap the screen to turn pages. In oth­er inter­ac­tions I’m also forced to use two hands quite a bit.

It was worth the upgrade even if only for the front­light, and despite its small and few draw­backs, the over­all improve­ment (over the Kin­dle 3, I should men­tion) make it a no-brain­er.