Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Kindle was Stolen so I Bought a New One

"I've got kids that enjoy stealing. I've got kids that don't think about stealing one way or the other, and I've got kids that just tolerate stealing because they know they've got nothing else to do. But nobody--and I mean nobody--has ever been hungry for it like this boy. If he had a bloody gash across his throat and a physiker was trying to sew it up, Lamora would steal the needle and thread and die laughing."

The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006) by Scott Lynch

Yeap, my precious Kindle Paperwhite was stolen from under my nose on the 18th of February, 2014. I remember that date because I have just returned from a twelve-day holiday in Northern Laos with Cheryl the day before, and it happened on the overnight bus I rode from Penang to Malacca. I must have fallen asleep when I was reading We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (one of the best books I've read about parenting ever and I think that all parenting books should be written in the style of a psychological thriller). My hands were still clasping my Kindle on my lap when my consciousness slid away into the night.

When I woke up in the Melaka Sentral bus station, I realised that I no longer have the device on me. I searched all around and under my seat to no avail. Some opportunistic thieving excuse of a human being must have taken it when my guard was down, and he could have gotten off at any of the stops preceding mine. Kindles are uncommon in Malaysia and most people don't even know what species of gadget it is when they see me reading from it. As a matter of fact, does not even ship the device to Malaysia so I had to purchase mine from a local third-party reseller. So while I lament the loss of my beautiful state-of-the-art e-book reader, somewhere out there, a thief must be thinking that he or she had just stolen the world's shittiest tablet PC.

With a sigh, I unregistered my missing Kindle from my Amazon account to prevent anyone from buying any books with my remaining gift card balance (about 130 USD at the time, which was no paltry sum), even though I was pretty damn sure he or she is close to illiterate. I was also pissed because I was forced to read the last third of We Need to Talk About Kevin using my smartphone's Kindle app. Grrr.

Okay. Deep breaths.

Last month on the 12th of March, I ordered a replacement from a second generation Kindle Paperwhite (the so-called "Paperwhite 2") with ads as screensavers to reduce the cost and no 3G (only Wi-Fi enabled). It was a package deal that comes with a "stylish case". The total came up to RM640. Since I live in Kuching, I expected that it would arrive at my doorstep on March 14 earliest but to my surprise, my mailman brought it to me on the very next day! The Kindle Malaysia team must have sent it off the moment I made payment!

What disappointed me was the "stylish case" it came with. Unlike the case that my previous Kindle shipped with, this new case was way too small to accommodate the device. I had to brute-force it in but even then, the edges of the Kindle stuck out like a burger patty with too-small buns. I suspect that it's a case that's designed to house a different product.

So I wrote to Kindle Malaysia and complained, and they kindly offered to take back the old case and send me an Amazon original leather cover if I would top up what I what I paid with RM110. The "premium case" is selling at RM219 apiece on their site so after subtracting what I paid for the shitty case, I was essentially getting a RM39 discount.

My Kindle Paperwhite 2 Premium Leather Cover
The Amazon original leather cover I eventually got,
made from premium natural leather harvested from premium natural cows.

I paid a total of RM750. If you convert the prices listed on Amazon's page to ringgit for the products I got, it should all cost RM521 at the current exchange rate - so that's RM229 more. I guess that's just one of the extra costs of living in Malaysia since Amazon refuses to ship to their amazing e-book reader here. I suspect that they think we are all illiterate based on everything they have heard our nation's leaders said on the world stage.

Anyway, the case was perfect and is totally worth the higher price. It is secured using a magnetic clasp so there's no fidgeting with snappy elastic bands like the one on my old case. The best part is that it also automatically wakes or sleeps the device whenever I open or close it - so I don't need to fiddle with the tiny on/off button with my sausage fingers.

In case you were wondering, I specifically asked for the pink case (or fuchsia if you are a woman and care about such trivial differences in hue). I like my stuff to be distinctive and brightly coloured so I can find it at a glance and people would always remember what's mine. And besides, I think only a guy who is insecure about his own manhood and sexuality would be afraid of being seen carrying or wearing something pink.

My Kindle Paperwhite 2
The device fits snugly into the case.

Wait, have I even talked about the new features that are loaded with the Paperwhite 2? Here's a list:

  • A higher contrast E Ink Carta display technology. Basically, the blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter.
  • Improved LED array in the frontlight, reducing the blooming or "blotchiness" at the bottom of the screen that plagued the illumination of the older Paperwhite.
  • 25% faster processor (1 GHz) that allows for faster page turns. I can totally vouch for this -the hiccups evident in the older Paperwhite is noticeably reduced.
  • Better response to touch input, but I don't really feel that. In fact, Paperwhite 2 seems to have a clumsier response to my touches than its predecessors. While the old Paperwhite lags behind my typing speed, it catches up accurately. The Paperwhite 2 would skip some of the letters I tap on, necessitating that I type slower.
  • The new Page Flip feature that allows the user to skip ahead or back in the text in a pop-up window and go back to the previous page - which is great so when I am reading The Winds of Winter later (heh, wishful thinking), I can summon Page Flip and flip back to the beginning at any time to look at the maps to figure out, for example, where Meeren is in relation to which backwater Daenerys goes to next instead of returning to Westeros. In case you are interested, you can summon Page Flip by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen.
  • Goodreads integration! Goodreads is a "social cataloguing" website that book nerds use to show off to other book nerds just how many books they are consuming. It's how they decide who is the nerd king. I started an account there just because of this feature the came bundled with my Paperwhite 2.

Anyway, all of the above just makes an already excellent device even better. The original Paperwhite was already a near faultless reading experience so no reinvention of the wheel is called for here. However, after being a Kindle owner for near a year, I do think that there is one aspect that the good folks from Amazon can work on: Better integration of diagrams and pictures! It isn't a problem when you are reading a novel with simple illustrations but when I was reading textbooks such as the Principles of Evolutionary Medicine, I found that I could not enlarge the charts and table in it - and that is frustrating. I would totally buy more textbooks for my Kindle and study more if this is fixed.

Aside from that, I love my new Kindle Paperwhite 2 so much that I want to gay marry it.

k0k s3n w4i


Rewarp said...

Sorry to hear of the thievery. Sad to say, that's why I always put my electronic devices into my backpack and bearhug it if I feel the need to sleep on buses.

If I have USD 1000 lying around, I would be getting this 13.3" epaper reader from Sony.

Those PDFs are a real nuisance. Thankfully, some journals are beginning to publish ebook versions of their papers.

Ideally though, a really light tablet would be preferable so I don't have to lug around so many devices.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Rewarp: Sony's offering is sort of a "digital paper" rather than an e-reader. It can only read PDF's and doesn't seem to support .azw, .azw3, .txt, .mobi - which the Kindle reads including PDF files. Sure, I can convert files to supportable formats for the Sony reader but that is needlessly irritating to do to almost every book I want to read. Kindle's MAIN attraction to me is its access of the entire Amazon library (I can buy a book at the tap of my finger and have it in seconds) and how painlessly I can read whatever I want at any time. Unless the Sony device has the same features, I am not going to even consider it at all no matter how flexible, light or crispy its display is. I think the Sony Digital Paper is targeted at an education market rather than at readers. It functions more like a piece of stationery than an e-reader.

Tablets are great but it doesn't beat reading on an e-ink display, man. Not to mention that the battery life of e-readers completely dwarf the battery life of tablet PC's. I don't want my reading device to die on me after just a day of reading. I want it to last for days or even weeks when I'm on vacation.

sckhoo said...

battery life and the access to library of books in Amazon are the main reason to get a kindle.

also, it is easy to the eye, without the backlit, it will not affect the sleeping cycle if one read before sleep.

Hsu Jen said...

Wait, so you paid extra to get a "stylish case" and they (knowingly?) sent you a case that doesn't fit, and made you pay extra to get one (albeit a better one) that does?

Am thinking if it's possible and more worth it to buy the Kindle and have it sent to a friend in Singapore.

k0k s3n w4i said...

sckhoo: Yeah, I really love the frontlight of the Kindle Paperwhite. So easy on the eye.

Hsu Jen: Actually, they offered to replace the ill-fitting case with one that (presumably) will fit better at no extra costs. At the same time, they also offered me (as a second choice) the "premium case" at an exclusive discounted rate as an apology. You try the "friend in Singapore" route and tell me how much it cost you. On the upside, Kindle Malaysia has floor stock ready so I got it delivered to me in just one day.