Updated to include pictures of Fire/Paperwhite screens shot and a print edition book.
** Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this review are based solely on my personal experience and observations. No outside influences have played a part in this review. This a also the first dedicated e-reader I’ve returned for any reason **
I love my Kindle Paperwhite (KPW) but I’m going to return it. Now you’re wondering why I would return a product I love. It’s really very simple: KPW isn’t the lighted e-reader for me. Frankly I don’t believe any of the lighted e-readers on the market would work for me but I haven’t given all of them a test drive so I can’t legitimately say that’s a true statement. I’ve wanted a lighted e-reader for a while now. When traveling it means not having to pack an external light source (yay!). And I don’t always read in ideal lighting conditions.
This is a lengthy post but I believe well worth your reading time. At the end of this post you’ll find pictures of the Kindles I’ve referred to here for comparison purposes.
A little history: My entire work day is spent in front of a computer, all 11 hours of it. And I read for an additional 2-3 hours daily. On the days that I’m not working I’m reading, using my Kindle Fire or laptop. I can devote hours of leisure time, sometimes in a single sitting, to reading. Consequently a large chunk of my week is devoted to staring at some sort of screen, lighted or not.
I’ve owned all generations of Kindle e-readers and I own a first generation Kindle Fire. Plus I own a Nook. So yes I’m dedicated e-reader. I prefer e-readers to print edition books.
First the things I truly love about KPW:
- It’s lighted. Yes I know I’m returning it for that very reason but if you stick with me you’ll under my reasoning.
- I love seeing the covers of my books. I don’t mind a list view but I’m a very visual person so having book covers is a nice feature.
- Time-to-read. I love this new feature. While I can easily gauge how far I have to go within a chapter and book using the bar on the bottom of the Kindle e-reader screens I like the reading stats provided by time-to-read. I’ll really miss this feature when I return my KPW.
Maybe someday when Amazon releases software updates for their other e-readers they’ll include book covers and time-to-read.
And now why I’m returning my KPW: my eyes are very sensitive to light conditions. I’m the person wearing sunglasses when no one else is. Not all light conditions work for me. Some light systems give me migraines and ‘sandpaper’ eyes. I’ve spent the past week playing with my KPW in various light conditions with various KPW light settings. On day two I thought I had things figured out. As the week progressed I continued to be plagued with low-grade headaches and eye strain. Finally came the great experiment – I traded reading on my KPW for reading on my Kindle keyboard. Within the hour no headaches, no eye strain. So back the other way just to make sure it was what I thought. Reading with the KPW was the culprit. And here’s the one unfortunate thing about KWP – you can’t turn the light completely off. Even on its lowest setting it’s still ‘on’.
Lying in bed last night composing this post my head I realized why the light system used by KPW bothers me. Literally the light bulb turned on (yes I intended that). It’s the color spectrum used by the KPW’s light not how system is set up. KPW’s light system is set up to direct light away from the reader unlike most/all other like tech devices(?). I can’t be sure why this exact color spectrum was chosen because I’m not a lighting expert but I can make a very uneducated guess based on marketing alone. There could be lots of science behind the decision that I’m now aware of. But using a ‘cool’ based light provides a crisper, cleaner, clearer contrast when looking at black text on a ‘white’ page. Much like a print edition book. Though I don’t believe I’ve ever read a print edition book where text was printed a true ‘white’ page. The KPW looks beautiful when the light system is set to 24 (highest setting) I’ll give it that. The contrast is incredible. And for me it ends there.
How did I come to conclude that ‘cool’ versus ‘warm’ lighting was the cause of my problems? Something I remembered when we were experimenting with light bulbs in our reading lamps a couple of years ago. We needed to replace burned out light bulbs. There are gazillion light bulb choices on the market. As we were wandering the aisle trying to make a decision I spied ‘cool’ based light bulbs. I figured they would be better for reading as they’d provide a brighter light then the traditional soft lighting. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Based on my logic we bought a package and installed them in our reading lights. Within a half hour of installation we both had roaring headaches. The beautiful, brighter light was too bright. We couldn’t trade out bulbs fast enough.
Another experiment last year with my Kindle Fire has led me once again to the ‘cool’ versus ‘warm’ light conclusion. I didn’t buy my Fire with the intention of doing any long term reading on it simply because of its light display. Too much like my laptop’s and not comfortable for long periods of time. But the days at the gym when I have read on my Fire I turn to the background to a gorgeous soft cream color with black text. I realized last night that reading for an hour on my Fire is much more eye friendly than reading even 15 minutes on my KPW at any light setting.
So the perfect lighted e-reader for me would be a cream colored background (think Kindle Fire) with ‘warm’ based light. If Amazon ever goes that route I’ll be first in line, again. I still want a lighted e-reader just not the current KPW.
Kindle Fire screen shot taken with phone camera
As you can tell from the picture the ‘page’ isn’t white when compared to the chapter number
It really is a cream color which doesn’t show very good in this particular picture
Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Paperwhite side x side
Screen color comparison picture
Picture shows a Kindle Fire screen on left with a cream colored screen and KPW on the right with it’s white screen.
Granted the KPW is turned to the highest setting to show off the contrast between the screen and the text. But even the print edition book’s pages aren’t ‘white’. They are closer to the cream color of the Fire’s background. When you turn down the light on the KWP the pages ‘gray’ out appearing much like the other Kindle e-readers backgrounds.