Customer Review

Reviewed in Canada on February 17, 2019
I only recently got into an ereader and I'll start with some things I wish I'd known ahead of time. Scroll to the end for Paperwhite-specific comments.

Borrowing from libraries - The Kindle does not support Overdrive in Canada. Overdrive is a platform that allows you to borrow books from public libraries and read them on your ereader. This feature works only for US libraries, and not in Canada. It's a very nice feature to have, because you'd be able to read some very good books without having to buy them. However, keep in mind that there IS a waitlist for ebooks as well! Libraries have licenses for fixed numbers of ebooks that they can lend out. If they don't have a copy for you, you can get on the waitlist. I've seen books with a 6 month waitlist. Once you do get your ebook, you have 21 days (may vary between different libraries) to read it before it will be returned automatically. If this is an important feature for you, get a Kobo brand ebook instead - those work in Canada.

Book compatibility - I have a number of ebooks that I bought from Google Play. I had planned to move them to the Kindle but met with some insurmountable obstacles. First of all, the common EPUB format is incompatible with Kindle. Of course, there're online tools to convert them into MOBI format for Kindle, but most of my books are protected by DRM and thus cannot be converted. From the other end, books you buy from the Kindle store are in the MOBI or PDF format - and of course they're DRM protected as well. What this means at the end of the day? DRM-protected ebooks you bought from other stores cannot be transferred to the Kindle, and anything you buy from the Kindle store is limited to the Kindle ecosystem. If you already have a sizeable collection of DRM-protected ebooks, go with a Kobo instead - it'll allow you to transfer your books. I do not like the Kindle's closed ecosystem one bit.

Audible - Apparently you need an audible.COM (not .CA) account and a bluetooth headset/speaker to use this feature. I think a smartphone is much better suited for audiobooks, it's an unnecessary feature on a ereader.

So this is all sounding really negative now, but I'm still giving the Kindle 4 stars. Why?

The Kindle app and content delivery system - If you have an unprotected ebook (i.e. one that you can LEGALLY get from the Gutenberg Project), it's EXTREMELY EASY to transfer to your kindle. You don't even need a computer to do this. Just email the file to your Kindle's email address and it will be pushed to your device. I'm a university student with access to lots of academic research PDF files, so I can just send them to my Kindle and read away. The files you sent are also available to download and read on any device with the Kindle app installed. That's right, if you install the Kindle app on your phone or tablet, all the files you sent to your Kindle can be accessed there too. And now, get this, your reading progress on MOBI ebooks will be synced throughout all your devices! This of course also applies to books you bought in the Kindle store. However, note that this does not work on files that are not in the MOBI format - so no PDFs, DOCs, HTMLs, etc.

Software stability, hardware consistency, support - In the time I spent with the kindle, I never experienced any system crashes or freezes. It has been very smooth to operate. Backlight distribution is as good as it gets for an ereader, it just feels like a very polished product. Before this, I had purchased a Kobo Forma from a local electronics store. In the few brief days I spent with the Forma, I had seen it crash and freeze, and there was a terrible light band on the edge of the screen. I took it in for an exchange twice - opened 3 Formas and all of them had that issue. I finally had to get a refund and bought the Kindle paperwhite instead. As for product support, I urge you to search on reddit for user experiences with the Kindle vs. the competition.

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A few more points that are specific to the Paperwhite.

Terrible power button placement - Could there be a worse place to put the power button than on the bottom? I naturally put my pinky right about where the power button is, and have accidentally put the Kindle to sleep more times I can could count. Why couldn't they put the power button up top.

Battery life - Not spectacular so far. 4 days of use and I have about 38% battery remaining. Know that this is still GREAT for the device's size, but the advertisements said "weeks" of battery life and that really put my expectations up there. I turn on airplane mode as much as I can, and only disable it when I need to get a new book or receive documents. I like to take advantage of the e-ink screen and read under a natural light source instead of using the backlight, so it only comes on for about an hour every night. Battery life should get better over time - I never got the full advertised battery life on my phone or iPad until about a week after I first charged them too.

Size - At first, I thought I'd be bothered by the 6" screen. It's tiny in the age of phablets, 4k monitors, and whatnot. However, the portability really grew on me. I can put the Kindle in my pocket and take it out to read if I had a spare moment. Text size can be adjusted to a comfortable level for reading on a small screen like this, but comics and graphical novels really take a hit. In a way, this is also good because it helps me focus on reading books and not get distracted - which is why I bought an ereader in the first place. I find that the smaller screen also helps me break large chunks of text down, which helps me focus even better.

Misc. - I love that it's water resistant. I usually run the Kindle under the tap once every few days to get rid of all the smudges and all. Try not to dry-wipe the screen too much, it looks like it's plastic and may scratch easily. Dry-wiping can drag dust particles across the screen and create micro-abrasions - something I've experienced on another device I had. The flush screen design means that dust cannot get trapped in the edges.

All in all, I think this is the BEST entry-level ereader. It beats the similarly-priced Kobo Clara in display pixel density and in its water resistance. I still can't get over the lack of Overdrive support for Canada, and the closed ecosystem, and the god-awful power button placement. However, this price and value proposition is hard to beat. I never chose to get the Oasis because it's twice the price, and the screen is only an inch bigger, but much less portable (I don't think it'll fit into any pockets), and not very grippy.

If this review helped you make an informed buying decision, kindly vote it as helpful - it'll motivate me to keep the detailed reviews coming!
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