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Kindle Scribe has the biggest screen Amazon has made for an e-book and now you can write — but its limitations and its cost mean it only has niche appeal.
There's a lot to like about the new 10.2-inch Kindle Scribe, especially if you're already in the Kindle ecosystem. However, if you're already a fan, the 6.8-inch Kindle Paperwhite is generally better for reading — and Kindle Scribe's exclusive writing features are lagging behind.
The Scribe has what Amazon describes as a Paperwhite display, meaning that aside from its physical size, it's the same as the one found in an older device. This means it's a 300dpi glare-free screen, and since it's an e-ink reader, it can be read even in direct sunlight.
However, unlike any other Kindle e-reader, this device is really meant to be written more than read. There's a new Notepad section where you can create documents and make notes in them with the included pen.
Nicely done — Even writing with the included pen instead of upgrading to a Premium Pen, the writing experience on Scribe is good.
You're just pretty limited in what you can do with your writing.
Kindle Scribe — Design and Configuration
The front of the Scribe is dominated by the screen, with a single large bezel on the side. This should provide a grip similar to that of the previous top model, the Kindle Oasis.
There is a USB-C charging port and an on/off button on the edge of the bezel. This button is placed much better here than on the Kindle Paperwhite, where you just forget it's tucked away at the bottom of the screen.
The frame was featured on the Kindle Oasis as part of the reason the device was a premium Kindle of the highest quality. However, when used, at least on Scribe, it's not only a comfortable grip, but also a barrier.
If you're reading Scribe and holding it with one hand on the front panel, it will be harder for you to reach your thumb to touch the page to change pages. More precisely, go to the next page — it's just as common to find that you've clicked to go back to the previous one.
Kindle Scribe only comes in one color — tungsten. It can be configured with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage, up from 8GB and 16GB for the Paperwhite.
Normally Kindles don't need a lot of storage space, as books are always stored on Amazon and readers just save the ones they're currently reading. With the ability to create more documents, there is a clear need for additional storage, but it is difficult to estimate what will be required.
And then it is not possible to set more storage space. So the storage size you choose is pretty much a guess, but as always, bigger is better — and the more, the more expensive.
The side of the Scribe opposite the bezel , the other edge of the screen, is where you dock your pen. This is a magnetic strip, and the pen is attached to it — usually.
In practice, the pen has only one flat side, which must be pressed against the magnet. It's very easy to roll a pen in your hand and wonder why it doesn't click into place on Scribe.
However, even when properly installed, it is very easy to move the pen during use, especially if you are holding the Scribe by that side.
AppleInsider tested the basic pen, and it looks more like a real pen than, say, an Apple Pencil. The Premium Pen includes a shortcut button to control some elements and also mimics an eraser on the end, but neither is a good reason to upgrade.
The main pen is excellent and writing on the screen feels natural. It also seems fast, as there is no obvious delay between the stroke of the pen and the appearance of the electronic ink.
Kindle Scribe — Build Quality
Kindles aren't known for being built to the same solid standards that Apple always does. But if the Kindle Scribe doesn't feel as cheap as some of its predecessors, it doesn't feel premium either — despite Amazon emphasizing the word during launch.
What he really feels is amazingly light and subtle. It's an illusion because it's clearly larger than the Kindle Paperwhite, but it's also thicker and heavier.
The Kindle Scribe weighs 433 grams compared to the Kindle Paperwhite's 205 grams, but feels light. Its width is also 230 mm, while the Paperwhite is 174.2 mm.
Writing in Kindle Scribe
There are two ways to write in Kindle Scribe. Fire up the scribe. You can open an ordinary e-book and add a note to it, thus digitally distorting the text that someone worked so hard on.
Or you can just create a blank document and start writing your own entries in it. Kindle Scribe offers many templates with different lines and margins, and each of them initially opens as a separate page.
When Amazon announced Kindle Scribe, it seemed like you could only write one-page documents, but thankfully, that's not the case. On any page you write, you can swipe from the right to create a new page and continue.
Sometimes Kindle Scribe palm rejection isn't miraculous and — just occasionally — you will be writing when you suddenly jump to the next page.
What's even more distracting is that at certain intervals you'll see the Kindle flicker. If you've ever read a Kindle book, you've seen this — every few pages there is a black flash and the whole page refreshes in front of you.
It's not slow, but it's not fast either, so you can't help but notice it while reading. And when you write, it's even worse, because for a moment it seems as if you have managed to erase everything that you just wrote.
Kindle Scribe writing options
By default, you write with a fairly thick e-ink pen. But there is a toolbar that lets you change this to one of several options, ranging from a very thin line to a heavy marker.
There is also a marker, a marker which can then be dragged across the words. Finally, there is an eraser. On a basic pen, you select this from the toolbar and then draw over your writing.
It erases it, and sometimes it's quite nice, like you cross out what you don't like and it disappears. Other times it's a chore because the pen “pen” that does the erasing is small.
But it's still better than using the Cancel button in Kindle Scribe. This cancels your letter, but at most one letter at a time.
Kindle Scribe — Speed
Kindle Scribe is a story about two halves when gaining momentum — like all kindles.
If you're reading a book on any modern Kindle, the transition to the next page is fast, or at least fast enough that you don't have to think about it. Likewise, actually writing on Kindle Scribe while making notes with a pen is fast.
Nothing else. You'll notice this the most if you've moved from an iPad or iPhone, but Kindle Scribe is insanely slow in everything but basic reading and writing.
Therefore, returning to your collection of documents, to your notebooks, is slow. Jumping to a new book to read, searching the library, choosing different controls is a chore.
This is not helped by the fact that the screen is much less sensitive than the iPad. Hence, usually you press a button and nothing seems to happen. What you can't tell is if your touch wasn't registered, or if the Kindle actually saw the touch and is just slowly doing something about it.
The feeling of speed and reliability is also not improved by bugs. At one point in testing, it was impossible to navigate beyond the Kindle Store home page until we rebooted the device.
Then, speaking of the restart, he later did exactly that while we were reading.
Kindle Scribe — battery life
According to Amazon, this and all Kindles don't just beat the iPad in battery life, they break it. Kindle Paperwhite is rated for 10 weeks — not hours, but weeks – on a single charge, and Kindle Scribe lasts up to 12 weeks.
Except that none of the numbers are true, not in real use.
Whoever tested their Kindles for battery life must have left theirs on the shelf and gone on vacation. With any use of any Kindle, these weeks are immediately reduced to days.
Specifically, using Amazon's own data, you'll live up to 12 weeks on a Kindle Scribe if you only read on it, not write. And then only if you read on it no more than 30 minutes a day.
Read more and in particular write more, and in practice you can get a total of about 10 hours on a single battery charge. It doesn't break the iPad, it just equals it.
What you can to do with your writing afterwards
Here's where Kindle Scribe's features seem stunted. It makes sense that you can only edit Scribe documents in Scribe, but that's a limitation.
Documents – or notepads, as Amazon calls them — will actually sync between Kindle Scribe and the Kindle app on your iPad or iPhone. However, even on the iPad, you can't edit them, you can just read them.
This is because, outside of Scribe, your documents are PDFs. You can send any document to anyone directly from Scribe, but they will receive it as a PDF.
If you're using Scribe to take notes that you'll come back to later, that's good enough. But you would expect the notes to sync to the Kindle Paperwhite so you can refer to them, which is currently not the case.
However, even within Scribe itself there are limitations. It's amazing that you can just keep adding pages and writing, but there's no way to search through the documents.
Not that you want to recognize — although you wouldn't mind — the thing is, you can't even tag the document. Other than its title or the name of the folder where you store it, you can't add anything to help you find the document later.
You can filter all notebooks, but it's really only by name or date.
Kindle Scribe is a bad compromise for most Apple users
If you don't want to write notes that you then type elsewhere, Scribe is a good device that just isn't enough. .
It's really comfortable to read books on, except you might have to stretch to turn the page. And this handwriting experience on Kindle Scribe is excellent.
So Kindle Scribe does have a lot to appreciate, but it also continues to fall behind. If it didn't start at $330, things might be different, but right now it seems too expensive for what you're getting.
Kindle Scribe Benefits
- Significantly larger screen (10.2 inches)< /li>
- You can write on it.
- Comes with a regular pen.
- Writing with a regular pen is just fine.
- It's surprisingly light.< /li>< /ul>
Cons of Kindle Scribe
- You can't search your written documents
- The magnets holding the pen are weak.
- Using any controls is very slow.
- You can only export documents in PDF format.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Where to Buy
Kindle Scribe is available now on Amazon starting at $339 for the 16GB version and the Basic Pen. The Premium Pen option adds another $30.
The $390 32GB Kindle Scribe version and $420 64GB version include a Premium Pen in the price. The base pen cannot currently be selected with either, and is not available separately.
But if you're reading this on AppleInsider and have read more than one of our articles, you should probably buy an iPad and Apple Pencil for a little more instead.