I will fully admit that I have made way too many quarantine impulse purchases. Like way too many. I do not need two Nintendo Switches (one was the Lite, which I bought first because I didn’t know I’d be obsessed with Animal Crossing). I also don’t need this brand new M1 MacBook Pro on which I am currently writing this (although I don’t regret it at all, this thing is incredible and runs even better than my 16 inch MacBook Pro – don’t judge me, just learn from my mistakes and save some money by getting the cheaper 13 inch M1 Pro or Air if you’re in the market). I’m seriously coming out of this pandemic with a lot of new tech and I don’t know how I feel about that.
But one of my most recent semi-impulse purchases that I definitely don’t really need is a Kindle Paperwhite. Honestly, I have been eyeing this thing for quite a while. But I always managed to talk myself out of it. Because I also have an iPad and an iPhone (definitely not obsessed with Apple products over here), both of which not only have the iBooks app which I really like, they also run the Kindle app and can read all of the Kindle books.
So why did I get it?
Long story short, I am old. Okay, not really. But ask anyone in their thirties and they will tell you they can definitely feel their age. And years of living in books has not been kind to my eyes, especially since I read more and more ebooks (as I live in fear of an earthquake burying me under all of my books).
Basically, iPad reading in bed wasn’t doing my any favors. It was affecting my sleep and literally making my eyes hurt. Like all the time. Not to mention I work in front of a computer all day and blog in my free time – also in front of said computer – so the screen time wasn’t good. But I liked reading on my iPad or phone in bed because of that one time I dropped The Lord of the Rings on my face and gave myself a fat lip (not kidding). Also, the my current lighting situation isn’t that conducive to reading in bed.
Enter… the Kindle Paperwhite.
In case you don’t know, the whole thing with the Paperwhite is that it has an e-ink screen, which, based on my research is kind of like a digital etch-a-sketch (don’t quote me on that). The important thing is that it doesn’t have crazy contrast, pretty much looks like paper, and doesn’t have that pesky blue light that doesn’t make your brain thing it’s daytime all the time. Seriously, people, your phone is ruining your sleep cycle. But if there was a way for me to read on a small, light device that didn’t make my eyes hurt, I was curious.
So, when I got a coupon one day to get it for $60, instead of the normal retail price of $129, I decided to go for it.
Obviously, the screen is a huge pro with the Paperwhite. It really does resemble paper and my eyes don’t get that feeling that what I’m staring at is way too bright. I can read on it for a good long while without my eyes watering. Which is a win! And kind of the point of me trying this out.
But the biggest thing the Kindle has going for it is that it leaves me with fewer distractions. I honestly didn’t consider this going in, but it honestly ended up being the thing I love most about the Kindle. Whenever I read on my phone or my iPad, I have tons of other apps at my fingertips. If I got a text message or another notification, it would pop up on the screen. Which is super distracting. The Kindle doesn’t have that problem, which is really nice. I can put my phone face down somewhere on silent and just read.
Now, these are some features I really like that are also available on iBooks and/or the Kindle app, but I just want to mention them:
First, you can use Libby to borrow ebooks through your local library and reading them on your Kindle. Which is awesome, since my library is kind of gross and I never actually go there. I also have access to the university library at the university where I work, and they have a great collection of anti-racism books, which I’ve been making my way through.
I do also like that you can make highlights and notes, and also look up unfamiliar words. Kindle (the app and the actual Kindle) has the benefit of being able to share said notes and highlights to Goodreads if you so choose. That’s not really what I use it for, but it’s a thing if you’re interested (or want to know how people share their highlights and notes to Goodreads all the time).
The Kindle also allows you to shop for ebooks and use Goodreads, though you can also do this on a phone or tablet, just through separate apps.
All that said, there are a few things I think the Kindle app actually does better than the Paperwhite. These things obviously aren’t total dealbreakers since I didn’t return my Kindle and still use it. But they are things that occasionally irritate me.
First, this thing is SLOW. Like, really slow. Not just “slightly older smartphone” slow, like Nokia snake phone from 2002 slow. This thing has basically zero processing speed, which means trying to do anything takes a lot longer than most of us are used to. I am very bad at actually getting rid of my old gadgets and I can’t think of a single one I still own that even comes close to the snail-like speed of the Kindle. And it doesn’t really need a lot of power, but it took me a while to get used to the fact that turning pages takes a full second or two.
Which brings me to con number two: you can’t scroll. One of the things I love most about reading ebooks is that I can scroll, which limits my eye movements and helps me read a lot faster. That can’t be done with the Kindle (though you can scroll on most books on the Kindle app). The nature of the e-ink technology means scrolling isn’t a possibility, you have to turn the pages. Honestly, mildly irritating, but I’ll live.
Now this is a very small complaint, but I do find it a little inconvenient that the Paperwhite is in black and white. I have a somewhat photographic memory, and seeing the colors on the ebook covers is helpful to me. I also like using Kindle Unlimited to read comics, which I still have to do on the Kindle app on my iPad. Again, you don’t need color for 99% of the things you can use the Paperwhite for, but sometimes I wish it was there. (I’ve heard color e-ink is coming, but I’m sure it’ll be really pricy and probably not worth it given it’s other limitations.)
Not Pros or Cons, but worth noting
There are a few different versions of the Kindle Paperwhite available. The deal I found was only available for the 8 GB, ad-supported, black model. So that’s what I got. And, in case you are wondering, that is exactly what I’d get again if I had to choose. Eight gigabytes is more than enough space for all of the books I’d like to read and I read a lot. So it’s not worth upgrading. Also, the ads are surprisingly not annoying at all. So I probably wouldn’t pay more to go without knowing what I know now (though I definitely wanted to when I first saw that).
It is pretty small, and has giant bezels (the area around the screen). The screen size itself is slightly shorter and and a little wider than my iPhone 12 Pro. I’d say it also weighs about the same as my phone does. It’s smaller than I was anticipating, but I actually do like that since it’s easy to hold and carry around (it fits in the pocket of my sweatpants – win!)
Is it worth it?
Short answer: no. I really don’t think this thing is worth the normal price of $129 (or more depending on the model you get). It feels very cheap for something you’d imagine at that price point. The painfully slow processor, the plastic back, and the giant bezels don’t scream “I’m worth over $100!” to me.
However, if you can manage to get it for a great deal like I did, then maybe it is worth it. I do really appreciate the screen that doesn’t cause me pain when reading and also having a separate device that limits distractions. I’m not totally convinced I’d buy it all over again, but I can’t say I wouldn’t do it for $60.
Personally, I definitely wouldn’t recommend getting this instead of an actual tablet. There are a ton of tablets out there that are around the same price or cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite. However, if you have a tablet, like me, and want something exclusively for reading or you’re very concerned about your eyes, maybe look into it and just wait for a great deal. And there’s no reason to go for anything other than the cheapest model with this one.
Do you have a Kindle or another e-reader? If you don’t, do you see yourself ever getting one?