Adding Pages to Impressions of the Kindle Paperwhite 3G
Months after an upgrade, sharing notes of what works, and what could work better with the Kindle Paperwhite
Having been some weeks since settling down for the weekend reading, I found myself in a familiar cafe with lunch and Kindle Paperwhite in hand. As I finished reading the blog feeds downloaded earlier, the Kindle was placed on the table and some mild reflection occurred. There is a different mental space the Kindle has allowed. The upgrade to the Paperwhite 3G has added some things, and not-quite added others. I’m impressed at times, reading should be an internal affair; and others times wonder if this is a platform deliberately neutered so it doesn’t give too much of the promise of “information about everything at your fingertips.”
The Kindle Paperwhite 3G (PW3G) was an upgrade enabling a bit less time with an iPhone in hand, and a bit more time with letting the weekends be a time of keeping head and eyes up. This is almost a perfect solution for these low-connectivity moments especially when paired with the Apple Watch 3 cellular and AirPods.
Most of the workflow with the PW3G is the same as the Paperwhite had before. Throughout the week, various travels around websites either make it to a links collection such as this one shared via Avanceé, or bookmarked within Evernote for reading on various devices during these weekend moments. Also, there’s the use of Kindle4RSSfor a few sites which are harder to get to durning the week because of their depth. A manual sending of those feeds to a compiled “book” is usually done before leaving for the cafe. This workflow leads to a “news reading” period and then a “book reading” period once at the cafe. And then when its done, the PW3G gets stored in the car or by the door for the next session. It’s placement is intentional to continue the acknowledgement of getting my eyes and mind away from the “work at hand.”
Having the PW3G in hand whether doing the weekday slow-down or a weekend travel has impressed a better sense of informational balance. There’s some acknowledgement of not needing to read all of the news all of the time, and then knowing what it isn’t telling you. Some feeds just don’t get read in full. Which isn’t ok — the 3G is only usable for Amazon and Wikipedia. I find some of those feeds just offering a piece of a thought then linked to the rest. Yet there’s almost no moment of getting to those fuller pieces. When linked to other sites, the PW3G needs to be on WiFi. That’s a bummer. 3G for looking up definitions and downloading/purchasing books seems to be too much neutering of the capabilities of such a device.
There is still that aspect of reading deeper. The amount of samples I’m pushing thru are gives something of a better appreciation for deeper reading. I’m rarely reading more than two or three books at a time (one of those really being a Bible/devotional). Yet, there are 6–10 samples on deck at any given point. Samples are a test of whether to read more. I do wish to have given some more time to reading consistently, but that’s a discipline given to flow rather than to the task. I’ve still got to find a better means of pulling out highlights for offline archiving, yet the ease in notes and highlights aren’t as compromised by the low-frame rate of eInk as it would seem.
About those compromises: If Medium reads and Evernote webclips were easily readable from the PW3G that would likely solve a good bit of the stagger in these reading moments. Yes, Whispersync to send articles to the device works, but its a kludge. Given that these are more or less services with programming interfaces (APIs) which should speak easily to a device that’s a programming interface delivery device, this shouldn’t be impossible. Medium doing something like having a daily digest sent to your connected Kindle account, with an ability to highlight and clap pieces (but not comment) seems like an easy win. Syncing an Evernote notebook, which would show up as a book of its own, updated when those clips are added to, but limited in terms of how many pages (perhaps), feels like the right evolution of the Kindle as a read-contemplative platform. I get that it might challenge the storefront nature of the Kindle bookstore; however, this is the kind of compromise which diminishes the Kindle in this age of larger smartphones.
Footnotes or Appendices
There are a few venues, again still weekend-based, where I like the PW3G as the large-screen option rather than the iPhone 7 Plus. Perhaps this is an acknowledgment of driving my own pacing towards information. Perhaps, its a boundary keeping me from exploring some thoughts and opinions more. Both and more? There is no social media to be concerned about. There’s no audio (there can be, but I don’t). There’s the content, and maybe what its linked to. And maybe a reminder — spoken to the watch or logged in the phone if its nearby — to something to explore more, later. The pacing is different enough to notice its necessity. That keeps this device around despite its compromises on completeness of being a reader.
Amazon doesn’t really need to make a new one. Sure, they can improve the screen quality and refresh rate. They could enable ‘Article Mode’ by default on the browser, and maybe even time/size limit some pages so there’s no over-extension of the 3G availability. Services like Medium and Evernote could play nicely with Kindle, and be a fuller vision themselves of what they portend to do towards changing and challenging their industries. A lot of this can happen. It might not. The Kindle is both compromised and perfect on purpose. What it allows branches differently if allowed. And if computing does continue down this path of connected-but-invisible, perhaps this is the right social signal of what it means to have information at your fingertips, but control of it in your hands.