With the Kindle Scribe, Amazon is hoping that a tool it launched throughout the George W. Bush administration will be its subsequent large factor once more.
Amazon would not draw back from flashy concepts, whether or not it is a supply drone, robotic sentry or a dialog with digital assistant Alexa. However this week, Amazon began promoting its Kindle Scribe, a refreshed model of the E Ink reader first launched again earlier than Amazon even had a cell app.
The Kindle Scribe is not futuristic. It is not semi-sentient. It would not even have colour. Its large replace: Along with studying, you possibly can write on it now too.
Learn extra: Amazon Kindle Scribe Evaluate: This Observe-Taking E Ink Pill Strikes a Nice Stability
However by rejuvenating the low-frills Kindle, Amazon is hoping to provide you new causes to expertise the centuries-old pleasure of studying. The primary Kindle launched the identical yr as the first iPhone, and in the decade and a half since, our private gadgets have grown smarter, sooner, flashier — and now exert a larger affect on our psychological well-being. Swimming in opposition to this tide, the Kindle Scribe’s mission is unglamorous. It is engineered that can assist you get deep into duties undermined by most internet-enabled gadgets: attentive studying and note-taking.
“We have expanded the world of what clients can do however nonetheless stored this concept of a sanctuary the place individuals can get into the content material and never be distracted,” Kevin Keith, Amazon’s vice chairman of product administration and advertising and marketing, mentioned in an interview.
The Scribe’s actual advance might merely be that Amazon, the world’s fourth greatest firm by market worth, is making it.
Kobo, reMarkable and Boox E Ink tablets from smaller makers already supply writing as a function, and a few have massive codecs with display high quality practically nearly as good as the Scribe’s. However none allow you to mark up Kindle books, and a few do not even assist the Kindle app. With the Scribe, Amazon has opened up its huge and well-liked library to your scribbling.
Including a brand new sparkle to the Kindle expertise is smart, given that Keith says Amazon’s clients purchase extra Kindle books than bodily books. And there is a massive potential base of future Kindle customers who already use Amazon’s e-reading app. The Kindle app has been downloaded greater than 326 million occasions globally since 2012 onto Apple and Android gadgets as a substitute of Kindles, based on information.ai, a market analytics firm that tracks cell apps.
The corporate sees the system “as a brand new class of Kindle that provides writing to the whole lot clients love about Kindle at the moment and opens us as much as new and totally different clients,” Keith mentioned.
Chris LaBrutto, a principal product supervisor at Amazon, mentioned Kindle customers have been already making a “Cliff Notes” model of their Kindle books with highlights and typed notes. Including a stylus to jot down on the Scribe elevates that expertise, letting readers get extra actively engaged, LaBrutto mentioned.
The query is whether or not, after 15 years of rising smartphone dependancy, gadget patrons like you might be longing to return to studying and writing in shades of grey.
E Ink’s followers like its limitations
First offered as half of e-readers in the mid-2000s, E Ink screens have earned devoted admirers from readers of all genres. The shows render textual content and graphics in grey scale with tiny, charged capsules that flip both black or white in response to damaging or optimistic electrical alerts. They draw far much less energy than a standard pill, giving them battery lives measured in weeks as a substitute of hours.
You too can learn an E Ink show in direct daylight and keep away from shining blue mild into your eyes, as a result of it is not backlit. That instantly appealed to Nick Value, a safety engineer in Portland, Oregon, who’s used a quantity of Kindles with E Ink, in addition to a Boox e-reader.
“I discovered it was lots simpler on my eyes in the night once I’m making an attempt to go to mattress,” Value mentioned of his first Kindle’s display.
For aficionados, the simplicity of the gadgets are the level. Along with eliminating vivid colours shining from screens, E Ink gadgets sometimes do not supply the entirety of the web, a large distraction from targeted studying. That was the attraction of the reMarkable 2, an E Ink pill with a stylus that got here out in 2020, mentioned Andrew Loeb, an English professor at Trent College in Ontario, Canada, who wished to have the ability to give attention to his studying and note-taking.
“For the identical value, you may get an iPad,” he mentioned, however that would defeat the function. “If I’ve an iPad, then I am going to do different issues with it.”
Writing on an e-book is a logical subsequent step when making an attempt to seize the expertise of studying from paper. Loeb makes use of his reMarkable 2 to mark up pupil’s papers, fixing an issue he confronted at the starting of the pandemic when his lessons went distant. He additionally likes to make use of it to learn articles and take notes at conferences and conferences. The tactile sensation of writing on the pill provides to the expertise, he mentioned.
Learn extra: Greatest E Ink Tablets for 2022: Amazon’s Kindle Scribe and Extra
E Ink that engages the senses
With gadgets like the reMarkable to compete with, Amazon aimed to make the Kindle Scribe a high-end writing expertise.
The Scribe’s distinction is its mixture of upscale options. Its real looking writing expertise coupled with a ten.2-inch display with sharp, 300 ppi picture high quality convey collectively features of a range of well-liked e-readers.
Amazon despatched me a check unit so I might get a really feel for it myself. I discovered the stylus captures the papery pleasure of writing, rendering a pointy line instantly. The display has simply sufficient texture to elicit a satisfying scritching sound as you write.
That have was the consequence of intense effort, based on LaBrutto and Tim Wall, a principal industrial designer at Amazon. It concerned fine-tuning the texture of the display, the sharpness of the photos and the immediacy of the writing expertise.
With an E Ink show, “you are not truly writing on the floor that you are writing on,” mentioned Wall. “Every thing under that lens, that floor, is additive.”
The staff targeted on microns of distance between the high layer of the show and all the elements that wanted to be sandwiched beneath it together with the E Ink. Additionally they targeted on microseconds of latency, or how lengthy it takes the line to seem after the stylus makes contact with the display.
Amazon says the Kindle Scribe is geared particularly to studying nonfiction. The massive show sharply renders charts and graphs in grey scale and matches extra textual content on every web page. Along with sticking notes in Kindle books, you possibly can mark up PDFs and Microsoft Phrase paperwork. Including handwriting additionally is smart for nonfiction, as analysis has proven it improves studying in contrast with typing notes.
Highlighting and marking instantly on a PDF helped me soak up info from a dense authorized transient, for instance. Studying a nonfiction guide in the Kindle App, I went proper into highlighting essential names and dates, in addition to making a operating commentary with each handwritten and text-based sticky notes.
(I will be returning the Kindle Scribe check unit after this story is revealed, at which level I am going to return to the Kindle app on my cellphone — the place I will not have the ability to entry my handwritten notes. I can obtain them individually as a PDF. However my highlighting and text-based notes created on the Scribe will stay for me to see in my Kindle cellphone app.)
Writing on the Kindle guide concerned extra steps than writing instantly on the PDF did, one thing CNET’s reviewers discovered unlucky and cumbersome. The Kindle staff made this design selection to depart pages uncluttered, Keith mentioned. It additionally means readers can alter their font with out disrupting the location of their notations on the web page, he added.
“One of the issues clients love about Kindles is it being distraction-free,” he mentioned.
If the Scribe succeeds, this simplicity will hold you inside Amazon’s universe, with out the gadget needing a splash of colour, not to mention the capability to fly like a digicam drone or roll and dance like a house robotic.