I’ll echo many of John Gruber’s thoughts on the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s solid — by far the best Kindle I’ve ever used. But it could be even better.
Namely, the unevenly lit bottom is annoying. It reminds me of the bottom of a billboard that’s being lit up. It’s less annoying depending on the brightness setting you use, but it’s impossible not to notice because the rest of the display is so wonderfully and evenly lit.
Also, this is something I hadn’t really thought about consciously but I totally agree with subconsciously:
But page-turning is a bit of a setback. It’s good that you can use the touchscreen to turn pages, but why not include dedicated page-turning buttons as well? The e-ink Kindles are designed to do one thing really well: display long-form text. Page-turning is at the heart of the Kindle reading experience. An active Kindle reader is going to go to the next page hundreds — in some cases, I’m sure, even thousands — of times every week. There should not just be buttons for page-turning, but great buttons. Buttons exquisitely designed and engineered to be perfectly placed and delightfully clickable. The problem with using the touchscreen to turn pages is that you have to move your thumb, from the bezel to the display and then back to the bezel after tapping, each time. With page-turning buttons on the bezel, like on the old pre-touchscreen Kindles, you never had to move your thumbs while reading. Not having to move your thumbs is one way a dedicated e-reader could hold an advantage over tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire — a missed opportunity here. It’s a little thing, but as always, it’s the details that matter.
Using the Kindle Paperwhite, it seems clear that Amazon wanted to remove all physical buttons. Very Apple-like, right? Not really. My thumb is constantly moving from the bezel to the screen to turn pages. It’s a small gesture, but it’s unnecessary friction. Sure, traditional books (you know, the actual paper variety) require more work for page-turns, but if you can improve something with technology, why not do it (especially if you were already doing it)?
And yes, Apple’s iBooks app requires you to touch the screen to turn pages as well, but at least they give you a lovely page-turning animation to harken back to the good old days. More importantly, the iPhone/iPad isn’t designed to be a pure eBook reader. The Kindle Paperwhite is.
I also miss the “home” button found on the last generation Kindle Touch. Fewer buttons isn’t always better. It should be all about the reading experience, not some minimalism pissing match.
Also, be sure to read Gruber’s thoughts about typography on the device.
Look, the Paperwhite is great. If you’re a big reader, I highly recommend it. But there’s no question that it could be and probably should be even better.