Kindle Paperwhite (2021 Version)

I am a diehard ebook fan. And I have stuck mainly to Kindles because that is where my ebooks are located, and there is a lock into a platform once you have thousands of books on that platform. I purchased the very first Kindle in 2007. And then I upgraded in 2009. And I upgraded again and again, owning, or at least using, almost every kindle model that has been released. But over the past few years, I have stuck with older kindles because there have not been compelling reasons to upgrade.

Previous Models and Context

In 2015, the Kindle Oasis came out. In addition to the very lightweight and the new offset design, the Oasis was the first kindle that returned to the page turn buttons after the release of the Kindle Keyboard in 2010. I like page turn buttons. When you do not have a page turn button, you have to move your finger to the screen and get fingerprints on it. Pressing a screen is less precise than a button, especially when you backward pages. In 2018, I purchased a Kindle Oasis 2 when there was a sale because the Kindle Oasis 3 had just been released. The Kindle Oasis 2 kept the offset design, the page turn buttons but increased the screen size (and weight) and was now waterproof. I had been looking for a waterproof kindle since 2010 when I had a floating waterproof case for my Kindle, and I loved it. The problem with Amazon’s waterproof Kindles design is that water, especially seawater, can change the page. On the Kindle Oasis, you can turn off the touch screen and only change pages with the buttons, but that is not an option for the waterproof Paperwhites.

The other problem with waterproof kindles is that they are not floating, unlike my waterproof case. One of my favorite things to do is float in the ocean (or a pool) and read. But if you are floating in the ocean and a wave breaks over you, not only will that wave likely turn your page, it may knock the kindle right out of your hand. I tried all sorts of hacks to make my kindle float. The most effective was to get foam tape and cover the back of the Kindle Oasis in foam tape, which gave it enough buoyancy to keep it at or near the surface. But I always thought the Kindle Oasis 2 was too heavy and the edges too sharp, and I never got used to it. When my mother-in-law needed a new kindle, I gave her my Oasis 2 and went back to my Oasis 1. The Oasis 1 is feather-light and small enough to fit into many of my pockets. But six years later, the battery is shot, and I need to recharge it every day or two.

If you have an old kindle, you can trade in the kindle to Amazon, and they will refurbish or dispose of it properly and give you a minimum of a $5 credit and 20% off of a new kindle. I tend to collect broken kindles and then send them in when people I know need a new kindle to get the discount. But those trade-in credits only last for so long, and I had one that was about to expire. So I picked up the new Kindle Paperwhite (2021), Kids’ Edition when it was on sale before Thanksgiving. I have used it for nearly a month, and my longer-term impressions are nearly the same as my short-term impressions.

Size and Weight

The new Kindle Paperwhite has a 6.8-inch screen, and that 0.8 inches may not seem like a lot, but based on the additional width and height, at the font size I mostly use, there are about five extra lines per screen. The Paperwhite is heavier than I think it should be, 205 to 208 grams depending on the model. That is up from 182 to 191 grams for the 2018 Paperwhite and 194 grams for the 2019 Oasis. Those are all significantly heavier than the 131 grams of the 2015 Kindle Oasis without the battery case. But the Kindle Paperwhite has comfortably rounded edges, which means that weight, even while noticeable, does not hurt to hold. That being said, I do find myself reading in a recliner, resting the kindle on my stomach or the arm’s chair.

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Thoughts Kindle Oasis (2nd Generation)

I recently took advantage of the 25% off coupon when you trade in a kindle and bought a Kindle Oasis (2nd Generation) on behalf of a friend. Because the coupon was about to expire and my friend was out of the country, and because she is gracious, I have spent the last six weeks using both the new Kindle Oasis and my previous Kindle Oasis. In the end, I am very mixed about whether I would recommend the 1st or 2nd generation Oasis. Overall, I like both, but I think I would like elements of each to be combined.

Update: Even though this is almost a year old, I bought my own Kindle Oasis 2 a couple of months ago when the Kindle Oasis 3 was released, and Amazon was clearing stock with a sale. I chose to get the sale price instead of the minor updates of the Kindle Oasis 3. But my impressions about the Oasis 2 are still roughly the same. I love the larger screen and the waterproofing. I use my Oasis 1 to carry around with me because the Oasis 2 will not fit in any of my pockets. It is a luxury to keep and use two kindles. But I am still split on the benefits of both.

Screen and Weight

The Kindle Oasis 2 the first time in years that Amazon has released anything other than a six-inch screen. That extra inch of screen space matters. Here are two pictures of the text of the Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander with the same size font to illustrate the difference that the extra screen space makes. At this font size, there are approximately six additional lines of text with the larger screen of the Kindle Oasis 2.

IMG 1936

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Audible on Apple Watch

Just over a week ago, Audible released its first Apple Watch app. Considering the Apple Watch has now been out about 3.5 years now, Audible has not rushed an app to market. In many ways, I do not think the Apple Watch has been ready for an Audible app until the last generation or two of Apple Watches and software.

The app was quietly released and I did not see it until it had been out for two days. I am a heavy Audible user. (I buy 30+ audiobooks a year and have a library over around 700 audiobooks. I have been a continuous member of Audible since 2004 or 2005.) I honestly was not sure that Audible needed an Apple Watch app because I have been pretty happy with my iPhone app.

Last year, Amazon released the Kindle Oasis with a Bluetooth wireless connection and an Audible app. But while I tried it, I primarily still listen to the iPhone because that is the device that I always have with me.

But the Apple Watch is different. When I am awake, I have the Apple Watch with me, even more than my iPhone. About six months ago I bought a used pair of AirPods, which has been the best purchase I have made for a long time. The AirPods are now always in my pocket. They instantly connect to my iPhone or Apple Watch. I almost always only keep one ear in at a time because I am a stay at home Dad and do not want to isolate myself. Alternating ears, I have never completely drained the battery of the AirPods.

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Kindle Now Does Audiobooks (again)

I started the blog that became in 2009. The first kindle came out in 2007. I bought the original kindle about 6 months after it initially came out. And then sold my original kindle and bought the second kindle. And then the third (Kindle Keyboard). And then the Paperwhite (but I used the Kindle Touch enough to know I didn’t like it and intentionally skipped that one.)

The initial kindle did not have speakers. Those came with the second generation. That second generation kindle had a digital voice that would read to you. The third generation had audible integration and you could have narrated books read to you. Then the Paperwhite removed the speakers and anyone that was listening to audiobooks was probably doing it on your smart phone.

Since 2012, no new Kindle has had speakers or capacity to listen to audiobooks (except the Fire Tablets, which are not dedicated ebook readers.) In 2016 an audio adapter was introduced which via dongle you could have Text to Speech. But with the most recent Kindle Oasis release Amazon has unlocked the bluetooth that has been in the original Kindle Oasis and the Kindle Basic which allow you to connect a bluetooth speaker or headphones to your kindle and listen to audiobooks again.

The basic function on my updated Kindle Oasis (1st generation) is similar to the function five years ago on the Kindle Keyboard (3rd generation Kindle.) It does not read along, but just has play, stop, forward or back and basic chapter navigation. I can alternate between reading the print and listening to the audiobook, but I cannot read along as you can on the iPhone or a tablet.

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New Kindle Oasis Announced

Amazon has announced the 2nd Generation Kindle Oasis. There has a couple of very nice new features.

Larger Screen: Since the original Kindle in 2007, Kindle screens have been six inches (except for one large format device). The new Kindle Oasis has a 7 inch screen, which is supposed to have 30% more text than a 6 inch screen.

Waterproof: I have been waiting for a waterproof kindle for a while. In 2009 I picked up a waterproof case and loved it. It was floating and I took my kindle in the ocean to read. It was my dream vacation activity. Eventually the case broke and I upgraded to a new kindle. In 2015, I picked up a WaterFi Kindle, which was an after market Paperwhite that added $100 to the price of the Paperwhite and nearly 50% additional weight. This Oasis is now waterproof, a boon to bathtub and beach readers everywhere. (IPX2, which is 2 meters of water for 60 minutes.)

More Storage for Audiobooks: The Oasis has either 8GB or 32GB of storage for books. A 32GB Paperwhite has been available in Japan for a while because of their focus on Magna comics. So this isn’t a surprise. What I was surprised about was that the storage is also for Audiobooks from Audible. There is not a speaker on the Oasis, but there is a bluetooth connection for either a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. This I would use.

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Kindle Oasis Review

In January I make the classic, and dumb, mistake of leaving my Kindle Paperwhite in an airline seatback pocket. And that was the last time I saw my Paperwhite. For a couple months I used an old Kindle 2 or my iPhone. But as my birthday was coming up I decided to get a used Kindle Oasis. It is the most expensive Kindle and my thoughts on its release (one year ago yesterday), was that “œsmaller and lighter is good, but the Paperwhite was not heavy or large. Brighter screens are good, but the Paperwhite is not dark.”

After using the Kindle Oasis for a few weeks, I really like it. And I still am not sure that I can fully justify the extra cost.

Kindle Oasis Amazon Stock photo

I really like having real buttons to change a page. You can actually use it one handed without having to use the second hand to change pages or stretching your fingers across the screen. Buttons are probably the thing I like most about the Kindle Oasis. But there is no way to disable page turns on the screen. I understand why you can’t disable the touch screen because it is essential for highlighting, looking up words, changing settings, etc. But there is no reason why Amazon should not have an option to turn off the page turning by screen.

The Kindle Oasis, without the cover really is light. By my scale it is 140 grams, compared to my iPhone 6S (with thin case) at 191 grams or my Kindle 2 which was 300 grams. With the battery case the Kindle Oasis is 249 grams. But by itself, it really feels almost weightless. I really do think that any lighter would be too light.

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New Prime Benefit – Prime Reading

Amazon has added a new benefit for Amazon Prime members. Prime Reading is a light version of Kindle Unlimited. Prime members can now read up to 10 books, magazines, short stories or children’s books at once. Prime Reading only has just over 1000 book too choose from (compared to 1.4 million books in Kindle Unlimited). … Read more

Kindle Unlimited Take Two

screenshot_71During the Amazon Prime Day sale last week I decided to take another run at Kindle Unlimited. There was a six month subscription to Kindle Unlimited for $45, which seemed like a fairly good deal.

In the week that I have used it again, I have decided that there are two related main problems with Kindle Unlimited and one good point. (My previous thoughts on Kindle Unlimited)

The Bad

Amazon is lousy at usability. Whether it is the Kindle Fire, their website or their apps, Amazon really needs to invest in designers. Amazon is successful because of low prices, free shipping and the ability to get pretty much anything. But for things like Kindle Unlimited, where the usage is really based on the ability to find the material you want to consume, Amazon’s lack of focus on usability is a serious issue. The biggest problem with the usability is actually finding the books you want to read. Kindle Unlimited is mostly self published books. There is plenty of content that is worth reading if you can find it. But there is a lot of work required to find good books. (Same problem with Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music)

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New Kindle Available for Pre-Order

Amazon released information about new kindle this morning (available for pre-order with delivery in early July). The new kindle replaces the Kindle Basic Touch (lowest end) Kindle. It keeps the same $80 price, but adds several good features and upgrades. The best new feature is Bluetooth audio. Amazon removed text to speech nearly 5 years … Read more