Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets might have been grabbing headlines of late, but for the book-loving crowd, the Kindle has always been an e-book reader rather than an Android tablet. And that group of worthies cheered when Amazon unveiled a new version of the Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite, last year. Its display had a paper-like whiteness to it, unlike its predecessors, which had a more greyish tinge to them, and unlike them, it was readable in the dark, thanks to a front-lit display.
Although available in select markets for a while, the Kindle Paperwhite became available for order from India only recently. One can order it from the Amazon website via credit card, for approximately Rs 11,800 (the amount will fluctuate, depending on the exchange rate, and the mode of delivery you opt for), including about Rs 2,000 of import duties, part of which get reimbursed at a later date. Incidentally, this is the Wi-Fi only version — the 3G version cannot be ordered from India. And before you ask, no, you cannot purchase a Kindle Paperwhite off the counter in India yet, although you can purchase the basic, non-touchscreen Kindle from the Croma retail chain.
The first thing that struck us about the Kindle Paperwhite was just how compact and light it is. It features a six-inch touchscreen e-ink display, is a mere 9.1mm thin (thinner than a new iPad) and tips the scales at just a tad over 200 gms. Yes, it is plastic but is comfortingly solid and will slip into an overcoat pocket or a handbag quite easily. The design is elegant — there are no buttons beneath the six-inch touchscreen display on the front, a USB charging port and a display/power on/off slider button are located below the device. And that is pretty much it — no speakers, no audio jacks, nothing.
That is because the Kindle Paperwhite is designed for pretty much one purpose —reading. The 212 ppi screen density might not sound much when compared to retina displays but is superb for an e-ink greyscale display (no colours, sorry), with crisp, readable fonts, be it bright sunlight or utter darkness. The front-lighting of the device works — it does not hit the eyes like LCD displays, is more subtle, and can be adjusted. The touch experience is decent enough, and books can be browsed and purchased from the well-stocked Amazon Kindle store (where prices are now a lot closer to paper editions). Reading is simple — just tap on a book to open it, and flick your finger on the screen to turn a page. You can also pinch to zoom in and out to tweak font size.
The device comes with 2 GB storage, of which about 1.25 GB is available to you enough to hold more than a thousand regular paperbacks, and all your purchases will be stored online anyway (you can remove them from your device and download them whenever you wish plus no extra charge or storage limits). So Wi-Fi permitting, you have a bookstore in your pocket, from which you can order free samples of books, purchase titles, and can read them whenever and wherever you wish. You can bookmark pages, share content over social networks, check out word meanings, even do some very basic Web browsing on the experimental browser and not worry about recharging the device — one charge will see you through close to a month.
Yes, the paper brigade will say that it does not have the feel and smell of paper. But the Kindle Paperwhite delivers something that’s just as important, or perhaps more so: the words. If you are looking for a bookstore-cum-bookrack that fits easily in your pocket, no better option exists. Kindle Paperwhite: 6-inch touchscreen e-ink display, Paperwhite display with built-in light, Wi-Fi, 2GB storage, experimental storage, free storage for all Amazon content,
Price: Rs 12,800 (approx)