Why the Kindle Scribe will take a long time to click | by jagadish singh | November 2022
“Read and write as naturally as on paper” – Amazon.com
Jthere’s a lot of hype among bibliophiles about the imminent release of Amazon’s latest shiny device (30 Nov 22) which not only supports the ability to read a wide variety of formats (including epub) but also the ability to take notes both on books and separately as journals.
Imagine my fleeting regret when, right after placing an order for my entry-level 9th gen iPad (wifi only), 64GB device, I happened to be browsing the Amazon US website to see a Instant Kindle Scribe!
OWhile most believers regard the Kindle Scribe 1.0 as the device, being the owner and longtime user of the Kindle DX Graphite and a recent convert from Apple, I intend to bring out my perspective on why this may not be the case in This article.
The Scribe Kindle. A device that surpasses the Kindle DX which had a 150ppi screen with a 9.7″ screen size with an all new 300ppi, 10.2″ paper white screen, and does not support the retro QWERTY keyboard for text input (as was the case with the DX). Instead, it supports a stylus with a fairly basic industrial design compared to the Apple Pencil while probably borrowing a bunch of other features (wireless charging(?), click to erase, and bling.. but let’s not rush).
SSpecification comparison with the Kindle DX
One gripe though is the lack of an e-ink color display. It can replace paperback fiction and non-fiction, but still not for comic book and graphic novel lovers. And certainly not for reading magazines.
The illuminated panel on the front is a welcome addition to reading in bed or in the absence of task lighting. The front-lit display should ideally have been a game-changer. In the sun or any well-lit area, this screen (without a front light) would be the best to use. But in the evening, my experience with the front light – hurts my eyes the same way a backlight does when reading in bed.
Another issue was the removal of refresh. I was so used to the suppression at one point that my brain wasn’t even able to detect it, although my companions to whom I bragged about my DX device could easily see it. No way the Scribe with similar e-Ink display technology could have solved both this and the lag associated with loading pages from pdf files. I so hope they have…
Larger screen and larger writing area — Yes, much appreciated. But would I be able to zoom into aspects of the writing area?; and move the ends of the page as I get closer to the edges while writing? Palm rejection?
At two-thirds the thickness of the DX, the Scribe is much thinner. But in my opinion, it doesn’t make much of a difference as long as the device doesn’t feel fragile enough to warrant having extra support when writing on it. What makes a big difference is the weight of the device. The Scribe has been reduced by about 20% (433g now) compared to the 535g of the Dx. To see if it’s more comfortable to read in bed by holding it high above the head (ah, that rhymed!).
Storage size has been increased several times from the meager 4GB in the DX to 64GB. External micro-SD card support would have been appreciated but if the UX improves with a closed source storage, nothing to say here. Either way, you can go a lifetime without being done with 64GB of books. That big storage for a device whose only functionality is read and write is amazing unless you like CBR or CBZ (for comics) which aren’t natively supported. (Show me wrong, Amazon…)
The migration to the USB-C port is a nod to EU directives for all devices by 2024 to support USB-C. When you have to make it happen anyway, why complicate things for product launch with variants for different geographies? And you also have the durability angle (note the lack of mention of an AC/DC adapter in the specs section)
Since the Micro-B receptacle is a lower z-height, the DX could have been thinner. But that might not have been the engine behind the thickness of the previous device.
For some, the lack of this feature could be an absolute turn-off. Not for me though. Why waste extra space on the bezel when you could make the overall display as close to 0 bezel as possible?
Ah, the Whispernet. I would consciously keep it off to make sure the battery doesn’t drain. Especially during the last few years of my DX when the cycle life had dropped dramatically (although still better than any other LCD tablet). Most of my content would be sideloaded. So not much use for that 3G module that was on the device except for the Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine subscription I had. Wifi would have been a smarter choice even then for Amazon rather than having multi-year commitments with local service providers to support this feature. (in addition to adding BoM cost and battery penalty, ie)
And what can I say about that 3.5mm headphone jack that I never used?
The Scribe opting for simpler WiFi connectivity with Bluetooth for audio is a step in the right direction. No comment on Amazon’s lack of accountability for battery life when using Bluetooth audio. Hopefully the audio won’t kill it below a headache-free use of at least a week or two. (All of those conditional calls below are making me a little nervous.)
I don’t know if the first version of the DX had a separate power socket. If so, Amazon, what were you thinking?
No information is available on this subject for the Kindle Scribe. I will update this article when I get my hands on the device or teardown information.
Based on the specified charging time of 7 hours considering a 2.5W power port from the USB-C cable, the battery should be larger than the 5.7Wh 1S1P battery seen on the Kindle DX. Maybe closer to an 8Whr or 9Whr would be my best guess.
No wireless charging. Thank goodness for this inefficient mode of power transfer that should never have been adopted, to begin with. The device is not waterproof; Well, this could be one of the reasons why all devices may need to use wireless data and power in the future. And the color is tungsten (?). I scratch my head as I map my known spectrum.
Nothing to compare here. The Scribe supports a basic stylus and a premium stylus.
The product page states that no fees or setup are required. It’s one less device whose RSoC battery you have to worry about. Magnetically attaches to device; a plus plus towards a better UX. The dedicated eraser and shortcut buttons are only available on the premium pen and the flexibility that the shortcut button can offer could be a nice feature. What wouldn’t I give to get my hands on this pen and take it apart to understand how it transmits data and location on the page while being a passive device? Alas, that will have to wait.
Excited to see the ability to write notes on digital books. How close will this be to the act of writing notes on the margins of physical books?
Another aspect I’m not so sure about is the hard felt tip. But then I wasn’t so sure about the plastic tip on the glass screen when using the Apple Pencil. But either he trained me now or I don’t mind for all the other benefits he brings. Practice with the pen on the Scribe will tell.
Journaling/note taking will be a godsend. I can’t remember a day where I didn’t waste time trying to figure out which physical sheet/notebook contains my notes related to a specific subject (Yes, I’m not very organized…but creativity can’t not be with defined boundaries and processes. Although I’m sure many would disagree). But what’s the use of your journals and notes if you can only search by title and not by content? I use GoodNotes 5 on my iPad which also allows me to search my handwritten notes… better than Scribe! And if I use Apple Notes instead, that also helps markup and search.
A dedicated e-book reader with note-taking capability and yes, no distractions with notifications or the over-smartness of a tablet (call forwarding to iPad, message pings, updates from of apps.. although it can be solved with the efficient use of debugging time) can be alluring to many. But with Focus modes on Apple devices, the same can also be achieved.
Support for pdf format was a given, but the highlight is the ability to read epub format natively on a Kindle device. In addition to that, it will support Word format and images, which could also mean support for comics. Throwing a *.cbr or *.cbz file on it and having it chewed and displayed would be fantastic. Amazon, hope you are reading. (Yes, I know, I repeated it.)
The accelerometer-based orientation change has a use, but the implementation on the DX at least was a major battery drain. And let’s not even get into taking notes using the QWERTY keyboard. This is anyway the major point that the Scribe should address and bring it closer to physical books.
Pricing for the Scribe ranges from ~$340 for the device plus basic stylus to ~$420 for the device plus premium stylus. While the entry-level 9th-gen iPad that supports the Apple Pencil Gen 1 costs around $280 + $70 = $350 at best for a 64GB device, the color screen device is capable to do much more than just read and write, much more enticing.
During the long gap between the launch of the DX Graphite and the Scribe, Amazon pretty much handed the entire market of budget-conscious, serious note-takers (read students and casual users) on a platter to Apple. For someone like me who just landed in the Apple iPad + Apple Pencil category with a pre-existing set of devices already in the walled-in ecosystem, getting out would require all the touted features delivered to perfection for me to rethink my investments and my choices. On top of that, I would have my notes and thoughts in a different set of apps that I might not have a way to migrate to the Scribe to keep on one device. And what about cloud backup in case of a broken or lost device? These are just some of the many points that Amazon needs to consider, innovate, and deliver for the device to become the de facto electronic journaling device.
Your move, Amazon. Good luck!
- Why not just enhance the functionality of the existing Kindle app on LCD/OLED devices?… Oh yes! I forgot about the e-ink display and the quality of getting a close to life paper experience with this device.
Kindle 2 vs. Kindle DX
Some First Thoughts on the Kindle Scribe