|All-New Kindle Paperwhite, Available for Pre-Order at Amazon|
Both of my sons, who are now in 5th and 7th grade, have always been strong, avid readers. If I take them to Barnes & Noble, I can't get out of there without spending at least a hundred dollars -- and that's after placing limits on how many books I will buy. Then they will have finished reading all of them within a few weeks and will be begging for more. Already their bedrooms look like hybrid library/LEGO factories, and there is physically no more space available for additional book shelves.
They each already own the first version of the Kindle Paperwhite, which I reviewed here back in December of 2011. I love the long battery life and convenience of the boys' ability to read the same book simultaneously (without Mom having to purchase two copies) and the fact that I can quickly and easily download new books without having to schlepp to the store and engage in public, tearful negotiations at the checkout line. I was even able to send Lars's science textbook to his Kindle last year, since his teacher had posted a PDF version of the book in a SkyDrive for her class. Each boy's Kindle contains two different versions of the Bible, Martin Luther's Small Catechism, several dictionaries, and other reference books that are useful in different situations in and out of school. We are even able to download PDF files of missing LEGO instructions from the LEGO web site and send them to the Kindles rather than printing them out. There are a LOT of LEGO instructions in my Kindle archives now, and this use of the Kindles is saving me a fortune in printer ink.
I also really love the ease of looking up unfamiliar words in the dictionary when reading on a Kindle, and my sons use this feature regularly. It's so easy to tap that word on the screen and have the definition instantly appear -- if they had to get up and go look for traditional dictionary, it would be too much of an interruption in the middle of a good story and they would just skip over that word. Lars and Anders also use the note-taking feature quite a bit, although primarily they use it to leave silly messages for one another in their books.
The only problem I ever had with the Kindles was that, once I had registered the kids' devices to my Amazon account, they were able to easily access the Kindle store directly from their devices and my older son (who struggles with impulse control) made purchases without my permission on multiple occasions. There is no reason why kids need to shop for books in their Kindle device. It's not a user-friendly feature on the Paperwhite Kindle unless you already know what you are looking for. There are also way too many digital "books" in the Kindle store that are really just chapter-length cliff-hangers that hook readers with a low initial purchase price, but lure them into purchasing sequel after sequel. I much prefer finding books for them on the Amazon web site, which provides reviews, additional information about the books, and suggestions based on prior purchases.
|Lars's Kindle Paperwhite, with Kindle Store and Web Browser Disabled|
However, soon after the original Paperwhite came out, Amazon released a Kindle software update incorporating parental controls that allow you to block access to both the Kindle Store and the Experimental Web Browser. As you can see in the photo at left, the Kindle Store and web browser are both grayed out and inoperable on Lars's Kindle because I blocked them. Problem solved!
So, what's the big deal about the All-New Kindle Paperwhite? Higher screen contrast due to E-Ink's Pearl 2 Display, faster loading page turns due to a better processer, and not much else, according to hands-on reviewers like the editors of CNet, who evaluated the device primarily from an adult user's perspective (read their review here). What I'm excited about as a parent are the new features Amazon will be rolling out in a software update for the Kindle Paperwhite later this fall: Integration with Goodreads, enhancements to the built-in dictionary, and a new array of special parental controls and enhancements called Kindle Free-Time.
|Kindle Free-Time Features for the Kiddos, Coming Soon in a Software Update|
I'm not rushing to preorder All-New Kindle Paperwhites just yet, though -- the parental restrictions on the current Paperwhites was a software download, and I was surprised to discover the last time around that the software update applied to older Kindles as well, not just the latest release. So I'm going to wait for that Free-Time software update to come out. If it is compatible with the earlier Paperwhite device, it should download automatically when they are connected to our wireless network. If not, I'll be upgrading their Kindles this Christmas!