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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good with room for possible UI improvements, 12 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi (Electronics)
I recently upgraded from a 3rd generation E-Ink Kindle to this 6th generation that features the "All-New Paperwhite" display.

The display was very good on 3rd generation devices, it's even better now with its 212 dpi density, which roughly translates to a minimal distance of 40 cm for 20/20 acuity people before they can tell two consecutive pixels apart. On my previous unit, the density was 167 and the corresponding distance about 50 cm. The contrast is also slightly better, and there is an additional light that can further improve the contrast, or allow for reading at night without turning the light on.

For those who wonder, this light cannot be completely turned off, however it can be lowered to an almost undetectable level and doesn't seem to consume much battery - it is too early for me to estimate how much hours or days of reading it can last. It is strange that the user cannot switch it completely off, as in normal light conditions this is unnecessary.

The case is slightly more compact, especially in height thanks to the disappearing of the ugly keyboard, and its frond panel is made of nobler-looking plastic than the "graphite-like" plastic. It is also more prone to being smeared unfortunately, and you will soon see bits of fingerprints here and there.

There is only one button on the bottom side to wake up the device, or to put it back to sleep. This button is somewhat hard to press and you'll need both hands to hold the device and press the button, whereas it was possible to do that with only one hand on the previous model. Not a big deal though I found that easier for example to switch it while taking breakfast. The button should have been placed on the front instead, that would have been much more user-friendly.

The idle screen pictures are more pleasant than the previous model (or then I got tired of them after so long). That may sound ridiculous, but it actually plays a bit towards the overall impression that the new Paperwhite is more classy, more modern than its predecessors.

No button to turn the pages anymore, this is done by touching the screen on either half to view the next / previous page, or by swiping. This is quite easy, the display is as sensitive as a smartphone's and doesn't attract as much fingerprint. Still, it's easy to accidentally touch the screen, and maybe it would have been better to reduce the area assigned to this functionality. Displaying a new page is much faster than the 3rd generation, which is good news indeed.

Getting the definition of a word, entering numbers, selecting text and some other operations have become easier and more natural thanks to the touch screen. Entering text is on par with the awkward keyboard of the previous series, it's as good as it gets without a cumbersome keyboard and anyway is usually not a frequent operation.

This gets me to the general organisation of the GUI menu, which has unfortunately not been completely thought through.

Touching the top area of the screen brings the main menu, which allows to get to the home screen (book selection mainly, and half the screen for ads, for the unfortunate ones who opted in), to the previous screen, to the light settings, the online shop, the search feature, the goodreads, and other items in a secondary submenu (which curiously also contains the online shop...).

Below the main menu is a toolbar to set the font, go to a particular location, open the X-Ray (when available), to share something on social networks (now Facebook and Twitter), or set a bookmark.

I found those different actions to behave somewhat inconsistently. For example, the font item opens a well-behaved pop-up that the user can close with the usual "X" button on the top right corner. But other pop-ups like the light settings or the dictionary don't have this close button and the user has to touch outside the window, in the text, in order to close it. And finally, the "goodreads" window doesn't allow the user to come back to the text at all (the back button is disabled, no close button, ...), no, the user has to open the menu again, click on the home button and then find the book in the list before continuing the reading.

Some options should also be more directly accessible too. For example, the WI-FI on/off switch is now hidden in the secondary menu, under the settings entry, so 4 "clicks" away. It would have more appropriately replaced this infamous "goodreads" button, or the online shop one since it's already present in the secondary menu and shouldn't be used as often (maybe Amazon wishes it to be).

More weirdness that probably ought to be addressed by a fix. That being said, WI-FI doesn't seem to consume as much power as it was in the 3rd generation, and on the other hand, being connected is not mandatory to read books unless synchronization, access to Wikipedia or the social networks is desired. So perhaps the user won't need to toggle WI-FI too often, and won't suffer too much from the further distance of this option. I mainly resent the too obvious weighting on shopping features over user comfort and common sense here.

The dictionary opens when the user touches any word for a longer time (if too short, this will just turn the page), and shows the definition with optional tabs to Wikipedia and X-Ray if available. The X-Ray feature seems fantastic for long and deep series like "A Song of Ice and Fire", which counts so many characters. However, I couldn't access it due to some unfortunate inconsistency in how Amazon manages that features across book flavours: if you buy that series one book at a time you get the X-Ray information, but if you buy the 5-volume set you don't.

I couldn't see the advertised page numbers either, I'm not sure whether the store page indicates when this feature is enabled for a book or not (it's clearly indicated for the X-Ray feature).

No more experimental features like the browser or the mp3 player anymore. Honestly, I don't think they brought much nor that anyone will miss them. But since this model doesn't have any speaker, there won't be text-to-speech either. I didn't realize that until I tried to find how to enable it, but this was only out of curiosity. It might be a deal stopper for other people, though.

In conclusion, overall I'm very pleased with this device. Upgrading was worth it, mainly for the display and speed improvements, and also for the generally easier touch interface. Yet I'm wondering why some obviously bad choices were made regarding the user interface and the position of the only physical button.
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