For the most part the new kindle announcement is good news. The new Kindle Paperwhite has a much better screen and continues to focus on reading as its main purpose.
But there are
four six areas where I think the new Kindle Paperwhite took a step back.
1) Storage Capacity – The new Paperwhite (the eink Kindle) has half the storage of the Kindle with Keyboard or the Kindle Touch. I think that 2 GB is enough for storing the current books you are reading, but not for an entire library. And many people want to store their entire library on a kindle. Amazon estimates that the new Paperwhites will store 1100 books. I currently have over 3000 books in my kindle library. On the other hand I try to keep the books on my kindle down to about 40-50. So it is not a huge deal for me. Also the kindle software does not like full storage. So if you kindle is slow, try taking off books that you are not currently reading.
2) No more Text to Speech – This is a feature that I do not use. But text to speech was very useful for some people. My Mom uses it a lot to listen to books she is reading while she is cleaning or cooking. I have used it a couple times when I was right in the middle of an important scene and I had to go to the store or pick someone up in the car. I know several writers that used it to listen to their work to help pick up mistakes or areas that need more work.
Text to Speech was created to help people with visual disabilities to read. Amazon got hit pretty hard by disability groups that said that the kindle was not friendly enough for the blind to use so I think they just removed the feature. That is speculation, but I think reasonable speculation.
3) No more Audio – Removing the Text to Speech also means that the did not need to include any audio jack or speakers. That allowed Amazon to keep the size small, thin and gave space to expand the battery capacity. But it means that it also removes support for audiobooks and music. I did not listen to music while I read, and the music support was very minimal. And the audiobook software was so buggy that I have stopped listening to audiobooks on the kindle. But again it is a lost feature that they could have improved instead of removing.
By removing audio, Amazon also hindered the best new feature, the Whispersync for Voice. You can still sync audiobooks and kindle books using an iPhone or Android phone and your Paperwhite or Kindle 4. But you have to buy a Kindle Fire if you want to use one device to sync together the audiobook and kindle book.
Removing the audio I am sure is what allowed the Paperwhite to get slightly thinner, lighter and smaller. (It is not much smaller, but it is smaller than the Kindle Touch.)
4) Buttons – I may be in a minority but I prefer buttons to change the page. When you use the touch screen only for page turns you have to touch the screen that you are reading, which brings finger prints and the possibility of scratching or cracking the kindle screen. Kindle Screens are not fragile. But I have now broken 4 kindle screens.
Buttons also allow for easier to use waterproof cases. I love my Guardian floating, waterproof case. I have made it work for the K2, K3 and K4 kindles. But it will not work on a touch screen kindle. The new screen is a different technology than the current Kindle Touch and that should make it easier to make a waterproof case. But I still prefer buttons.
5) Ad Supported – This is not really an issue for the Paperwhite. Because the purchaser can decide to buy the ad supported or the non-ad-supported Kindle Paperwhite. However, on the Kindle Fires, there is no option. Everyone gets the ad-supported version. On the Fire, your lock screen is now an ad location. While I think you should buy the ad-supported versions, I also think that Amazon should make the feature optional.
6) 3G Cost – This is minor (I know I am beyond the titled 4 now), but I realized that the premium for the 3G has gone up. Initially it was a $50 premium with the Kindle 3. Then it dropped to a $40 premium with the Kindle Touch. Now it has gone up to a $60 premium with the Paperwhite. I do not begrudge Amazon making a profit. And I have seen enough evidence, that they really do basically break even on the Kindles. So my guess is that AT&T is behind the increase in cost. But $179 is quite a bit more than the $139 that I can get a Kindle with Keyboard with 3G. And the Kindle with Keyboard does not have the restrictions on 3G use. The Paperwhite can only download books with its 3G. The Kindle with Keyboard can use the (very limited) browser and check email.
What I do like is that the changes keep the focus on reading. I, and many others, have been concerned ever since the introduction of the Kindle Fire that Amazon would drop their eink line and move to Tablets as their only reading device. Eink is still significantly better for reading than LCD and the new screens are much better than previous eink screens.