Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kindle "Paperwhite"? Wow

Thanks to TKC for alerting me to the Verge's rumor page about a supposed new Kindle with "Paperwhite" display. Apparently much whiter than previous E-ink models.

The screen's French says:

  • First screen paper-white
  • Marked contrast
  • High resolution
  • Integrated light
  • 8 weeks of battery life
  • (Even with the light on)

Len of TKC says that 1: he doubts it's real. 2: he doubts it's a good idea.

Regular readers will have an inkling (no pun intended) that I disagree on both counts. Nobody would make that up if it wasn't real. And quantum jumps in technology do happen occasionally even if they are not the norm, just look at the iPad 3, that was a 4X jump in resolution!

And more importantly, in my sweet, personal way, I have never been in the large camp which loves the e-ink Kindles' medium-grey background. In fact, I hate it. I've bought every Kindle ever published, almost, and I have had precious little use for them, only because of that little factor: that durned murky background. This is very emotional and subjective, but to me it feels like I have found the perfect girlfriend in all aspects, except in one: every hour she slaps me hard in the face for no reason...

In other words, for me the dark screen has simply been a deal-breaker, it's a single little thing which makes it practically unusable for me, and I've been heart-broken about it, because otherwise I love the Kindle. Its size and weight, and non-backlit screen makes it potentially a powerful alternative to tablets (which I also love) for long reading.

It's actually only recently that I asked Len if the Nook Touch with Glowlight had actually a lighter screen even with the light turned off, and he had to tell me no, it's the same as always. That almost killed the little flame of hope I had of seeing a non-backlit Kindle with a substantially improved contrast on the screen.

In less than a week, we'll know. The new Kindles will be announced on 6 Sep.
I am curious about, if it's true, how many regular e-ink Kindle readers will look at it (in real life) and continue to love their old grey screen, and how many will say: "well, what do you know, near-white really is better for reading than medium grey. My love for it was really projected love for the Kindle in general." (Just like people's love of paperbooks is in large part projected love for reading and stories.)
(By the way, make no mistake, the old E-ink background is not light grey, it is medium grey. This is easily confirmed in Photoshop in photos. And that is pretty durn dark for something you want to read off. Even if you flood lots of light on it, that light also lights up the surroundings, so the page never stands out.)

The higher resolution also sounds good. I have an iRiver Story HD ereader with high resolution screen (XGA, 768x1024px), and it is really beautiful. (Sadly the device itself suffers from poor design, interface-wise.) Because of the sixteen shades of grey on the E-ink Kindle screen, you don't really notice that the resolution is actually pretty low, 800x600px. But when you see higher resolution, it makes a difference.

I'm trying not to get too excited about this, because you never know how things work out, but the high rez and the big jump in contrast makes this sound like the kind of screen I have been dreaming of for reading for years. Fingers crossed all over.

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