Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shopping (and Reading): Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

I recently decided that I absolutely had to have an Amazon Kindle. I already have a Kobo and I make Amazon book orders with some regularity so it's not as if I needed it; although that argument could be made for any device these days even though we find life increasingly difficult to go with out them. In the ended I rationalized the purchase in this manner: at 139$ it was less expensive than a dress at Banana Republic, which I have a tendency to buy without a moments hesitation and considering how much I read, the price per use would be worth every penny.

I have been increasingly disgruntled with the Kobo. I bought my first Kobo a few years ago and I had no end of trouble with downloading content (books that wouldn't transfer) and software updates. One software update crippled my Kobo, forcing me to exchange it for a new one at Chapters. I was grateful for their willingness to exchange the device but it was worth noting that they already had a number of returns for the exact same reason. Apart from the very slow on/off response, I lived in harmony with my Kobo for a while after that (refusing to update the software unless I absolutely had to) until my company gifted everyone in my department with a new Kobo Touch. At that point, I was in a good place with my Kobo Classic but I decided to move on and embrace new technology. It was an improvement to use WiFi connectivity to download books rather than having to download via the kobo application and then use a USB cable to transfer content to the Kobo itself. There are usability issues however; the touch screen is so sensitive that every move I make while reading in bed seems to trigger a page turn, sometimes numerous pages. Accessing the ToC and other menus while within a book is not without frustration. First world problems, right?

The aspect that really made my decision to try the Kindle was the Kobo store. Seriously, it's horrendous. There's no such thing as a wish list or 'save for later'. You can only buy one book at a time, meaning that a promo code for 40% off is only good for one book purchase and lately you can't even apply a promo code to a best seller so you may as well forget about a discount altogether. The store inventory is simply flooded with erotica. If the navigation and categorization was better I wouldn't complain but when I search in Fiction & Literature and and end up sorting through pages and pages of 50 Shades wannabes, I get annoyed. I know that sounds like a minor detail, but I just can't get past a bad interface (it's the reason I dumped Netflix). Kindle has the advantage over Kobo, considering you can buy content on the device or from the Amazon site. In my opinion, Amazon is one of the best sites out there for navigation and browsability; a definite boon for Kindle to be able to piggy back on that success.

My Kindle arrived on Monday, one day after I purchased it. Set up was non-existent; it was already linked to my amazon account. Book purchase and transfer is both easy and instant. The protective case I bought is a perfect fit; functional and attractive (I chose Honey, which ended up being very nice). You simply open/close the lid to turn the device on/off and it takes mere seconds to load. Marc gifted me (through Amazon, so damn easy!) with a set of the first four Game of Thrones books; needless to say I'm psyched to dig in. Even better, the Paperwhite version illuminates the screen so that you no longer have to keep a light on to read at night, which means you don't have to disturb the person you sleep next to. I was psyched last night when I settled into bed to read in the dark. I will say that the Paperwhite screen is not as easy on the eyes as the Kobo. I can already tell that my eyes will fatigue quicker with the Kindle as the glow of the screen is a bit more intense and less natural than the Kobo screen. For all my complaints about the Kobo, I think they did a great job with the look & feel (i.e. contrast) of the screen. I think I will hold onto both the Kindle and Kobo and alternate usage based on book price, availability, etc. It's totally normal to be giddy over a book reader, right?

Amazon website

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