The Kindle Paperwhite 2 is now available for pre-order. It ships September 30th, 2013.
First, let’s look at what Kindle Paperwhite 2 brings to the table. Then, let’s ponder why Amazon announced it without confetti and cupcakes.
Kindle Paperwhite 2 – Death by Incremental Improvement
Here are the ways in which Kindle Paperwhite 2 incrementally improves over the Kindle Paperwhite –
- Improved Screen Contrast. Continuing with its ‘don’t kill them with happiness’ tradition of only improving contrast by a bit, eInk and Amazon have improved screen contrast by a little bit. Whites are whiter and blacks are blacker.
- Faster Page Turns. 25% Faster. Yes, we know it’s hard to make out. It really is faster.
- Improved Built-In Light. Guides light towards the surface of the display (whatever that means).
- 212 pixels per inch screen density.
- Improved Font Technology. Not sure what this means. The Font technology improves every generation and still don’t know what that means in actuality.
- 25% Faster Processor. 25% faster – notice the trend. At this rate, in 2015 we’ll have Kindle Paperwhite 4 which will be twice as fast as Kindle Paperwhite 1. Amazon must know something those speed doubling, tripling, and quadrupling engineers at Apple and Samsung don’t know.
- 19% tighter touch grid (seriously, can this not be explained in English). Apparently, this means touches are more accurately measured. It also means someone lost their job for not getting to ‘25% tighter’ touch gridness.
- ******* Improvements that fly under the radar (and some really deserve to)
- Page Flip Feature – Lets you skip around in the book without losing your place. Reminds me of when we had these archaic things called books and you had to actually fold the edge of a page to avoid losing your place. The horror! Note: Only Amazon could take something that should have been there right from 2007 and introduced it as a new feature.
- Improved Smart Look Up Feature – Dictionary and Wikipedia and X-Ray right on the page itself. Don’t have to leave the book.
- Vocabulary Builder – Words looked up in the dictionary are added to Vocabulary Builder. It only took them 5-6 years to figure out this would be useful. Better late than never.
- Read footnotes without leaving the page. Cool!
- [Coming Soon] Share with Friends on GoodReads. There aren’t really any social book networks left that Amazon doesn’t partially or fully own. So you might as well start sharing with them your hopes and aspirations and dreams.
- [Coming Soon] Kindle FreeTime. Track time spent reading for your kids, and limit their reading time (you wouldn’t want them left unable to communicate with their Reality TV watching and GTA playing classmates, would you?)
- [Coming Soon] Kindle MatchBook. Get the Kindle edition for past, present, and future book purchases at Amazon of SOME Books for $0 to $3. This is a VERY cool feature.
- [Coming Soon] Book Discovery – Find your next read using Good Reads and all their ‘zero wage slaves’ … sorry … social network enthusiasts.
It’s a lot of incremental ‘25% better’ improvements that add up to a Kindle Paperwhite V1.5. I don’t see any reason for Kindle Paperwhite owners to upgrade. However, for those with Kindle Touch or Kindle 2 or Kindle 3, it might be worth upgrading to Kindle Paperwhite 2. They would get noticeably better contrast and the in-built light is very useful.
Perhaps Amazon should switch to doing new Kindle versions every 2 years. They really can’t seem to advance the technology or the software enough to justify yearly Kindle releases.
Kindle Paperwhite 2 – Still not a Tablet, Still Better, Still Worse
Here are the ways in which Kindle Paperwhite 2 is better for reading than Tablets (unless, of course, you are LCD compatible and find no discernible difference between eInk and LCD) –
- With the Kindle Paperwhite 2’s eInk screen you can read in bright sunlight. This is impossible with nearly all LCD screen devices.
- The eInk screen is also easier on the eyes. Again, we get into lots of areas of grey with LCD compatibles. Some people are LCD compatible and find that reading on LCD screens for long stretches doesn’t tire their eyes. For other people, eInk works much better.
- You can focus on reading without Star Wars or Angry Birds or Angry Birds Star Wars 2 (wth) stealing you away. This might come as a surprise – A device that allows nothing other than reading, leads to more reading.
- The light and compact size makes Kindle Paperwhite easier to hold while reading, easier to store, and easier to carry and pack.
- The battery lasts for weeks, not hours. To be more precise – a Tablet might last you 8 to 10 hours, enough to read a book. A Kindle will last you 30 hours or more. Enough to read 3-4 books.
- No one is going to try and steal it. Perhaps some thieves are dumb enough to think it’s a super valuable device. Hopefully, most will know it’s not an expensive Tablet and aren’t fond of standing by libraries trying to convince people to buy their aunt’s Kindle for $25.
As you can see, there are some clear advantages the Kindle Paperwhite 2 has over Tablets. Of course, there are also downsides.
Here are Kindle Paperwhite 2 disadvantages (when compared to Tablets) –
- You can only read books on it. You can’t take photos, it won’t respond if you talk to it (a mixed blessing), you can’t play games on it, and watching movies on it is impossible.
- People might think you’re a book nerd. Depending on your perspective, this might be good or bad.
- The screen size, at approximately 6″, is smaller than tablets. This means less text fits on the screen. It also means that the screen size isn’t suited for PDFs and newspapers and magazines. No amount of wishful thinking will change that (I’m looking at you Mr. Grad Student who’s going about cursing ‘Kindle Paperwhite 2’s lack of PDF skills’ everywhere on the Pipes and Tubes of the Internet).
- Tablets come with a plethora of apps which extend what the Tablet can become. Kindle Paperwhite 2 comes with an extremely limited set of apps. There’s not really that much you can do on it other than read and play a few simple games. Things like Vocabulary Builder Apps would just show up a year or two after launch for most Tablets. On the Kindle Paperwhite 2 it took 6 years for the feature to be added (Amazon added it themselves).
- It’s sort-of expensive if you don’t read much. It’s $119. If you read a book a month then a Tablet is good enough.
Anyways, enough discussing boring things like technical features and lights that direct light towards the screen (apparently we’re breaking the laws of Physics now).
Why was Kindle Paperwhite 2 announced without any fanfare?
We didn’t have Jeff Bezos prancing around like Steve Ballmer and proclaiming – Kindle Paperwhite 2 is the best reading device … for any price.
We didn’t have some ‘special’ press conference where ‘Journalists’ can be fed Eggs Benedict and shown some so-cool-it’s-frozen band live, to try and nudge them into favorable reviews. Perhaps you don’t need to do that if you own newspapers outright.
Kindle Paperwhite 2 just arrived. Someone (a journalist actually doing their job?) found Kindle Paperwhite 2 details. Soon after, instead of confirming or denying the existence of the ‘25% Better in Everything, Revolutionary in Nothing’ Kindle Paperwhite 2, Amazon just made the Kindle Paperwhite 2 available for sale.
Long gone are the days when the entire news cycle would be about the new ‘Kindle’. Now people only care about wearable devices that make you look like a stalker (Guaranteed weird stares, or your money back). Amazon seems to have focused itself on things like Kindle Fire Tablets and perhaps Kindle Phones and Kindle Watches.
There are three main possibilities –
- Amazon has relegated ‘Kindle eInk Devices’ to the ‘we also make these, but we don’t really care too much’ category. Perhaps Kindle Paperwhite 2 is so far down the pecking order that arranging a Kindle Paperwhite 2 ‘25% is the New Magical’ Press Conference was simply out of the question.
- Amazon had planned to hold a big festival with Feist singing ‘1, 2, 3, 4 – 25% I love you more’ and journalists scarfing down truffles. When the Kindle Paperwhite 2 was leaked, they simply flew their French Chef back to Montpellier and decided – It’s spoilt now. It was so beautiful, but it’s spoilt. Next year, we’ll book Morrissey and Vampire Weekend and do everything properly.
- Amazon was going to announce Kindle Paperwhite 2 alongside Kindle Fire HD 2 and Kindle Toothbrush 0.5 and Kindle TV 0.25. Now it has to be announced all by itself since the Paperwhite 2 cat is out of the bag.
The first and the third seem most likely. Unfortunately, the first seems the most reasonable assumption.
Alas, Kindle Paperwhite 2 is now Cinderella without a Fairy Godmother (or, for that matter, without a dashing Prince). Amazon, which talked of ‘replacing paper’ and ‘building a reading device without compromises’, seems more interested in Tablets and Phones and other devices that people with non-reading attuned attention spans can love and cherish. Who cares about people who would read and use their imaginations when we can cater to people who want to throw pigs at Han Solo (or Han Solo at pigs, does it matter?).