Thought Leadership

A new Kindle: every cloud …

By Colin Walls

All my life I have enjoyed reading and it remains a source of entertainment that engages me more than TV can ever do. As I have written about before, I am a strong advocate of e-reading, which. over the last 5 years or so, has motivated me to read even more.

This past week, however, change was thrust upon me …

It is now almost exactly 4 years since I purchased a Kindle. Prior to that, I had used my iPad for reading. Although the idea of having just one device is attractive, I concluded that, with current technology, having both makes sense, as each has its virtues. The iPad is incredibly versatile, but can only run for about 10 hours on a charge; this is OK most of the time, but a long flight stretches it a bit. Also, the display is unusable in very bright sunshine. The Kindle, on the other hand, is a single use device, but it has an incredible battery life and can be read almost anywhere. Having both also insulates me from the “all my eggs in one basket” issue.

I still read “real” books sometimes and might be inclined to purchase reference books in this form, but, for everyday reading, a Kindle is just better. It is very easy to carry about – a large paperback or, worse, a hardback is quite an encumbrance. I can easily read one-handed. I spend a lot of time standing in line for things like boarding planes – all that dead time can be used productively. I also read no-handed. If I am eating alone – as is often the case at breakfast- and lunch-time – I have the Kindle on the table next to me and my hands are free to work on my food. This has the added benefit of making me eat more slowly.

The other day, disaster struck. I was taking a short train journey and, as I left the house, I popped my Kindle into the back pocket of my jeans. I have a great fear of being bored. By having reading matter with me, I was unconcerned about any delays waiting for the train and could use the 15 minutes duration of the trip. I got onto the train. I was just about to sit down and bent forward slightly. I heard a slight click and immediately knew that something bad had happened. I took my old friend out of my pocket and confirmed my fears: the display was trashed. Almost all the pixels on the screen are stuck showing the screen saver; only about two lines of text appear at the bottom of the screen when I switch the device on.

Evernote Snapshot 20150428 095921

Evernote Snapshot 20150428 100013

By the time I reached my destination [15 minutes later], I had placed an order for a new Kindle. For a while I have been pondering the new Kindle Voyage, which is expensive, but gets some very good reviews using words like “the best e-reader on the market”. This seemed like an auspicious time to invest.

My new Kindle arrived about 3 days later [I was too mean to pay for expedited delivery]. I quickly got it loaded up with my vast number of books waiting to be read – they make this process very easy. I have been using it for nearly a week now and, although I cannot yet comment on battery life, I am very impressed. It is fast and slick and very enjoyable to operate. I always hope to learn stuff when I am reading, even if it is a novel. As a result, I have always liked the instant access to a dictionary that e-readers afford. But now I have more. I clicked on the word “Crohn’s”. This was not in the dictionary, so the device instantly took me to the Wikipedia page. Perfect!

When I ordered the new device, I did so knowing that a repair of the old one might be possible, but would most likely be expensive. I was right. I may take it apart and see whether there is anything that I can do, but I suspect that it is a write-off. Doing the sums, I concluded that it cost me about $0.10 per day to own, which was very good value IMHO. I am sad to lose my old friend, but “every cloud has a silver lining” and I am sure that I will enjoy my new best friend.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at