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So Long, Paper

Is the new Kindle Paperwhite 3G a good travel companion? Two airports, two bumpy flights and two cities later, here’s what we felt.

Is the new Kindle Paperwhite 3G a good travel companion? Two airports, two bumpy flights and two cities later, here’s what we felt.

I would like to do more reading than what I get to do these days. So when I got the opportunity to review the new Kindle Paperwhite, I was looking forward to check out the sixth generation of the ebook reader and the second in the Paperwhite series.

The opportunity presented itself in the form of a three-day official trip to Chennai. Due to the nature of the trip, I was sure there would not be much time to read once I was there. But nothing could stop me from reading at the airport and while flying. So that meant at least eight hours of reading, at two new airports and two rather old aircrafts in between.

I am in the taxi en route to the airport. I decide to download some reading material for the flight on the Paperwhite. This version has 3G, so I am not tethered to a WiFi network for updates. I decide to first sync a few books that are already there in my Kindle account. I buy Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi, a book I have been dying to read. I also find the cover of the Columbia Journalism Review (“Evgeny vs the Internet”) interesting and decide to subscribe to the magazine. It helps that the first month is free, after which I can decide whether I want to continue with the subscription. The entire process takes me under five minutes, the 3G is quite fast on this version.

At the airport, I try and log in to the free WiFi. I could not experience a faster download, probably because the airport WiFi was being used by hundreds of passengers. It is not much of a difference in speeds and I am not really spending money as the 3G does not entail usage cost. Interestingly, the device automatically switches off the 3G when it latches on to a wireless network.

As I try to log in to the Goodreads site, it is time to board the flight. The Paperwhite — like its earlier version — is not much larger than a thin paperback and can easily go inside my coat pocket.

In the flight, I cozy up with the CJR cover story on Evgeny Morozov. Of all the Kindle devices so far, this one has one of the fastest page flips. But this also means that if your thumb inadvertently touches the bottom right corner, you are on to the next page. I have always found it slightly awkward to read periodicals on the Kindle. One article flows into another and often you mistake this for a new chapter, when it turns out to be a completely new piece. But this also means you can finish a magazine from cover to cover without being bothered about anything else, just the kind of experience avid readers love.

India After Gandhi starts with a rather long prologue peppered with footnotes. Clicking any superscript number on the text opens the footnote pop-up in a jiffy. It is convenient, and much faster than clicking on a link on a website.

The one day that I spend in Chennai does not afford me much time to read lengthy pieces. But I do use the device to check The Indian Express stories once in a while — after all, this is Chennai where you cannot get a copy of the paper.

On my way back, on a very turbulent evening flight, I actually read much more than I have in ages. In two hours, I am four chapters into Guha’s latest. Having seen the actual size of the book, I am quite certain that this is a better way to read any book that is more than 300 pages long.

Back in Delhi, I am on my way back home and using 3G. I select a line from the book and tweet it. Yes, this is a good added feature, but perhaps this is not the device for multiple tweets from a single book. You can easily manage a tweet per book. Plus, there is the fact that the tweet makes sense only for people on the Amazon ecosystem, for the link that goes with it is synced to the Amazon site.

At home, I use the Goodreads feature to log in to Facebook to create a shelf of the books I have read on the Kindle. It also shows other people on my list who are using this service. Surprisingly, there were quite a few of them and with books that I would like to read, when I get the time. This seems like a better feature than the actual share option.

Overall, the Kindle Paperwhite has now become a device for the share-it-now generation. It is still the closest digital experience to the actual book and is at times a better experience, especially when you are on the move. A must-have for people who like to read wherever they are.

Price: Rs 13,999 (The version without 3G is Rs 3,000 less)

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