Friday, September 7, 2012

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite in Singapore

If you want to read more about the previous Kindle Touch (with 400 comments!), click here.

1) Updates
  • 16 September 2013: With the arrival of the new 2013 model, this blog entry will no longer be updated. All updates will be found here instead.
  • 7 September: Amended bullet point 5 of the 'how to buy ebooks' section based on new information.
  • 6 September: Software Update 5.3.8 released.
  • 3 September: New Kindle Paperwhite announced with better contrast. Name unchanged. 
  • 5th August 2013: I just opened a new online shop Get the Paperwhite at S$199 with free 2-day delivery! Plus management of your new account so that purchasing of books can be more easily done. :)
  • 10th April: I'll be hiking in Australia for 2 months so may not answer questions that quickly.
  • 28th February: New Kindle Paperwhite ads just got released last week. 
  • 14th October: I just received the Kindle Paperwhite and Leather Cover. It's plainly the best Kindle ever made. There seems to some reviews which mention defective screens, hopefully that's just a minority of the huge amounts of Kindles sold. Mine looks gorgeous! It took 11 days from the package leaving Amazon to reaching Comgateway to reaching my house. The shipping was USD17. Total cost is around S$215 including shipping via Comgateway (or S$165 if you don't buy the cover, which is not recommended.)
2) Some Kindle ebooks I bought
3) Kindle Paperwhite
4) Kindle Leather Cover
5) Calibre integration
6) How to buy a Kindle in Singapore
7) How to buy Kindle ebooks in Singapore

      2) Some Kindle books I've bought to be read on the E Ink Kindle and Kindle for iPad.

      Every year at this time, I worry that E Ink e-readers will be gone, taken over by the attractiveness of LCD screens found on tablets. Last year, Amazon launched the Kindle Fire, a fork in the Kindle brand that threatened to do away with the E Ink version if it didn't do as well as expected. It now seems that that's not happening at all. Amazon does have a long-term investment in E Ink e-readers for one simple reason: it provides the best reading experience and looks just like a book. So today, we have a new model, the 5th generation Kindle Paperwhite!

      I bought the Kindle Paperwhite (the version without 3G and with Special Offers) and also got a Leather Cover. It took 11 days from the package leaving Amazon to reaching Comgateway to reaching my house. The shipping was USD17. Total cost is around S$215 including shipping via Comgateway (or S$165 if you don't buy the cover, which is not recommended.)
      There are two groups of people who may be interested in this device. Those who have never had a Kindle before, and those who have. For the former group, just get the new Paperwhite. It's basically a no-brainer. If you want an E Ink reader, this is as good as it gets. It's light, the user interface is not bad and it has gone through many versions; this is the best yet. For those who have the Kindle Touch or another older version, there are a few reasons why the Paperwhite is a compelling upgrade. Firstly, we're talking about the best lighted screen that exists. I've compared the Paperwhite's screen with its brightness adjusted equal to an iPad's screen in pitch darkness. The Paperwhite's screen can be very dim and very bright, very similar to an iPad's. However, the feature that makes it 'better' than the conventional LCD screen is that it can be read very well in bright sunlight also. No other screen does as well in two kinds of light conditions. Hence the continual attraction of E Ink devices. Next, the resolution of the Paperwhite has increased to 758x1024 pixels at 212dpi. The Touch's is 600x800. What this means is that the fonts are now more crisp than ever. For all intents and purposes, it is a Retina display. (The Retina Macbook Pro has a resolution of 220ppi.) Just look at the picture below, this is with the light turned on a little. I cannot tell it's not a piece of paper.
      Thirdly, the term paper white is achieved (or at least close to what we mean by white) by the ingenious technology found in the light dispersion system that allows the screen to be evenly lit. Now we may ask ourselves what the big deal is. For example, aren't all LCD screens perfectly lit? There lies one big difference between the two technologies. LCD screens give off light, so each pixel is a point of light, very loosely speaking. E Ink screens cannot be lit in the same way, since they're opaque. (The pages of a paper book cannot light up by itself.) So light has to shine on the screen, and reflected into our eyes. The result is objectively not perfectly evenly light, but it's darn close. So close that it does not detract from the experience at all, unless you're very picky. The dictionary's interface has changed a little too. Holding your finger to a word for 2s will make the definitions window pop up. If you want to view the full entry, tap 'More'. To go back to the book, press 'back'.
      Another interesting new feature tells you how much time you'll need to spend finishing the book. It's found at the bottom left corner, and it's pretty accurate from my experience reading it.
      Kindle Leather Cover Apart from the Kindle, you need to buy some sort of casing. A screen protector is not needed, but a case is quite essential. You don't want to drop the Kindle without protection as the screen will mostly likely break. The official Leather Cover is not cheap, but it's really, really good. It has a rubber chassis that wraps the Kindle very tightly. The corners are protected if the reader is dropped to the ground. There's a magnet on the cover so that when you close it, the Kindle switches off automatically, and vice versa. The build quality is also very good, better than the Touch's official case.
      Calibre integration Calibre is an ebook management software that extends the potential of a Kindle quite a bit. It has many 'recipes' that are able to pull content from major websites and then automically transfer the material to the Kindle automatically via email. In the previous version, Chinese characters were not totally able to be displayed. In the Paperwhite, it seems that most if not all characters can be displayed.
      News from
      With the included dictionary
      Content from The West Australian
      Content from Today Online
      Content from Psychology Today
      How to buy a Kindle in Singapore
      • Create an Amazon account if you don't already have one.
      • Go to the Kindle page and buy yourself a Kindle. It will be automatically linked to your Amazon account. I prefer the WiFi-only version rather than the 3G+WiFi version. The added 3G may not be really necessary because worldwide surfing isn't guaranteed even though it does work in many places. Also, additional costs will be incurred for the transfer of documents if 3G (AT&T roaming) is used when there is no WiFi.
      • Ship it to a third party mail forwarder. Borderlinx (Citibank credit card required, go to 'get a virtual address') and Comgateway (go to 'get my US address') are excellent. They both use DHL.
      • When you get your Kindle, you need to register it if it hasn't already been registered. After connecting to wifi at home>settings, register it by filling in your Amazon username and password at "home>settings>register".
      Some preparatory steps to take before buying books from the Amazon US store
      • Because Amazon doesn't officially support Kindles in Singapore, there were instances where buyers were found to be not from 'authorised countries' and were asked to provide proof of US residency before they could buy books again. To be safe, use a vpn described below.
      • Firstly, do not buy Amazon ebooks directly from your Kindle device or Kindle apps, not even free books.
      • Buy a gift card with your local credit card, say USD50. Use the correct, local billing address for this purchase. Email the gift card to your email address. When you receive it in the mail, apply the gift amount to your Amazon account.
      • Go to your account, 'manage payment options', and erase your credit card info if you have any credit cards associated with . (Do this also whenever you buy something at Amazon using your local credit card.)
      • You need to buy books using your Internet browser on your computer with a VPN installed. Functionally, using a VPN is the equivalent of me giving you an airplane ticket to travel with your Kindle to the US. Use a VPN such as AlwaysVPN to make yourself situated in the US, in spirit. You may turn it off later when you're done purchasing. Click here to download some instructions. The cheapest Alwaysvpn package can last you for years. Do not use Hotspot Shield; it's known not to work sometimes.
      • Exit your Internet browser.
      • Switch on your VPN. Open your browser.
      • Go to Manage your Kindle at the Kindle product page.
      • Go to 'country settings'. Change your country to US if it's showing another country. Use any US address.
      • Switch off the VPN.
      How to buy e-books from the Amazon US store
      • Do not buy e-books (even if the books are free) with the Kindle device.
      • Ensure that you have sufficient funds in your account. If not, buy more gift cards and apply them to your account.
      • Exit your Internet browser.
      • Switch on your VPN, and check that it's working by going to . It needs to show a US IP address.
      • Go to Amazon. Find your book and click 'buy now with 1-click', 'deliver to your Kindle'. If you choose to wirelessly send it to your Kindle, you should receive the book in a few seconds. You can also choose to download the file and transfer it to your Kindle using USB. If asked for the billing address, use any US address. Note that this address will not be used because funds will originate from your gift card balance. New: Copy or do a screenshot of this information (the US billing address and telephone number that you used.) You may be asked for it in the future.
      • Switch off the VPN.