When Michael Cronan was asked to name Amazon’s new e-reader, the branding consultant suggested Kindle. Kindle, as we know, means “to light a fire” and Cronan felt it would be an appropriate metaphor for reading and intellectual excitement. Since the original Kindle was released in November 2007, six generations of the Amazon e-reader have followed. While Amazon has not released official sales figures, according to Forrester Research, as of mid-2010, sales estimates for the Kindle were around four million.
Yes, it’s safe to say that six generations and millions of sales prove that Amazon remains the undisputed leader in the e-reader category. However, will the sixth gen Kindle, the new Kindle Paperwhite live up to the product’s “to light a fire” metaphor?
It was only announced on the Amazon website on September 3 and won’t be released until October, 2013, so it’s a little premature to dissect the technical powers – or even lack of them – of the Paperwhite, right? Not according to the wave of excitement the yet-to-be-released product has already ignited in gadgetry media.
It’s “zippier and better than the original Paperwhite” CNet insists, pinning the new Paperwhite’s superiority on being the first product to feature E-Ink’s Pearl 2 display, which offers better contrast. CNet’s also quick to associate the new Amazon e-reader’s greatness to its 1GHz processor, which is 25% faster than the 800MHz processor that the original Paperwhite comprises of. The latest model is also a hair lighter than the original Paperwhite, weighing 7.3 ounces instead of 7.5. But will we really notice such a marginal difference in weight?
Meanwhile Bloomberg Businessweek Technology emphasises how the new Kindle is showing how Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is, “Link by link, constructing a wall around his digital reading ecosystem that manages to be both alluring to readers and virtually insurmountable for competitors.” The Kindle-loving Bloomberg reporter is especially excited about the Paperwhite’s Vocabulary Builder feature, which stores all the vocab words that readers look up while reading and then enables them to quiz themselves with flash cards.
So let’s not beat around the bush, what exactly is all the fuss about what makes the new Kindle Paperwhite allegedly better than ever?
One of the Kindle’s biggest assets is that reader’s can read without straining their eyes. With higher contrast and better reflectivity, means that as Amazon states, “White are white and blacks are blacks, so the pages are virtually indistinguishable from a physical book.” What’s more, with next generation built-in light that guides light towards the surface of the display, readers won’t get any eye strain.
With a 25% faster processor, pages turn faster than ever and with the new Kindle Flip Page, ‘skim readers’ can be in their element, scanning chapters, skipping to the end or browsing pages without losing their place.
Another key feature that is new to the latest Kindle is the Smart New Lookup. This pioneering trait integrates a full dictionary along with Wikipedia so that user’s can access information and definitions without leaving their page. Although it has to be said that resorting to Wikipedia for information is a a little on the dubious side of credible.
There’s tonnes more we could say about Amazon’s sixth generation of Kindle, such as maintaining its eight weeks of battery life and having built-in Wi-Fi but what we really to know is the price and availability.
The new Kindle Paperwhite is £109. Pre-ordering started on 4 September at www.amazon.co.uk and shipping in the UK will start 9 October.