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Amazon’s recent tech products have really raised the bar for the company, including a brand new Echo Dot and a Halo Rise sleep clock. The biggest jump though, had to be the expansion of its Kindle e-reader line, with the Kindle Scribe recently hitting the market.
This writable e-reader is the first Kindle of its kind, now with the added functionality to take handwritten notes as you read. It’s essentially designed to replace paper, encouraging users to use it as a digital notebook when they’re at a meeting, at school or even when they’re writing up their weekly to-do lists.
I had the opportunity to test out the new Kindle Scribe for a week, and here’s what I thought about its design, functionality and battery life.
Kindle Scribe: Availability and Design
The new Kindle Scribe is available in three sizes (16 GB, 32GB, and 64 GB) and in two options (Basic Pen or Premium Pen) with prices starting at $339.99. The only difference between the two pens is that the Premium Pen has a dedicated eraser and can seamlessly switch from note typing to highlighting, thanks to a small button.
The design of the Scribe itself is slim and sleek — for the most part. It’s got a 10.2-inch screen, and it’s easily the widest Kindle to date. The extra screen real estate does make this Kindle a tad heavier though, weighing around 433 grams. This is much heavier than the Kindle Paperwhite (our overall favorite e-reader) which only weighs about 205 grams. I probably only noticed the weight difference as I’m used to carrying my Paperwhite everywhere, but all in all, since the Scribe still weighs under a pound, I wasn’t totally disappointed.
The design otherwise is quite functional, with a USB-C port and a simple on/off button being the only markings on the build. The Scribe does have a rather thick bezel on one side though, designed to function as a grip while you read. I found myself wishing that the bezel didn’t exist altogether (I’d rather have a larger screen) but it’s not a deal-breaker.
I also heavily suggest that you buy the Kindle magnetic cover with your purchase. Yes, it’s an additional $60 but it’s a necessary purchase, especially if you want to set your Kindle down in stand mode or a different orientation as you read — you will want to set it down considering it’s not the lightest e-reader on the market. Plus, it’s got a nifty pocket for storing your pen if you don’t want to magnetically attach it to the side of your Kindle. There are third-party retailers that also sell Kindle Scribe covers, just in case you’re looking for a more affordable option.
Kindle Scribe: Display
The Kindle Scribe features a 10.2-inch 300 PPI glare-free display. This works well for reading text or even handwriting notes. There are also 35 LED front-ligths on this Kindle — more than even the Kindle Oasis — which makes it a breeze to read on this Kindle in low-light conditions. The Kindle Scribe also offers an adjustable warm light, depending on your reading preferences, plus a dark mode, which makes it a little more comfortable to read when the lights are out.
I really liked the bright, even display on the Scribe, which let me read both outdoors and indoors with ease. It also made it easy to take notes on the device, even under harsh fluorescent lighting.
All in all, I had no qualms with the display and was overall impressed by how much more pleasing it was to read on the Kindle Scribe than my previously owned Paperwhite.
Kindle Scribe: Battery Life and Functionality
Amazon has really worked on the battery life of its Kindles, with the Kindle Scribe’s battery life also designed to last weeks, similar to the Paperwhite (which boasts 10 weeks of battery life on a single charge).
I was able to use my Scribe daily for a week with only minimal battery drainage. This is super convenient if you’re on vacation and don’t want the hassle of carrying your Kindle charger on the go. And, since the attached pen never needs to be charged (no, really) it meant I could continue to write or take notes without worrying about my stylus dying out on me.
Speaking of the pen, I was impressed at how easy to use it was. There was virtually no lag when I tried writing with it, giving me the impression I was taking pen to paper. I could sketch, write or doodle with the Kindle Scribe. The dedicated eraser on the back of my pen made it easy to conceal any mistakes too.
The only unfortunate thing is that there’s no handwriting-to-text feature, so while you can export your notes, you won’t be able to convert your handwriting to text. I wish this was an option as I honestly have terrible handwriting. If I’m taking meeting notes that I need to send out to colleagues, having a handwriting-to-text option would’ve been great — although I’m hoping we’ll see this feature show up in a future update.
Other than that, I enjoyed the Kindle’s ability to take notes while reading. I liked how I could highlight text and add my own little margin notes that I could come back to. This is great if you have school or college textbooks on your Kindle, as it makes it easy to take notes in lectures as you go.
Another feature I really liked was how easy it was to import PDFs or word documents to my Scribe. Simply use the Send to Kindle Feature, where you can upload any PDFs, Docs or even images, up to 200 MB in size and it will download almost immediately onto your Kindle. Once it’s there, you can mark up your documents as you like — even underlining or circling directly onto the PDF (weirdly though, you can’t do this on e-books). You’ll be able to zoom in and out too, although scrolling might not be as seamless as you’d expect on a regular tablet or laptop. For me, scrolling felt a little laggy and it was annoying having to reposition the screen every time I zoomed out or in — I found it easier just to mark up the PDF in its regular size.
Other than PDFs and DOCs, the Kindle Scribe supports a wide variety of file formats, including TXT, DOCX, HTML, and EPUb (check here for the full list). It also, of course, works with Audible, so you’ll be able to access your audiobooks on this device as well.
The only real downside to the Kindle’s functionality is the fact that it’s not waterproof. I’ve come to depend on my Paperwhite when I read at the pool or during a late-night bath session. I was honestly quite surprised when I realized the new Kinde Scribe is actually not waterproof.
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Kindle Scribe: Verdict
The Kindle Scribe is a decent Kindle entry by Amazon. It is honestly great for taking notes and does make it easier to eliminate the need of paper in my daily life. It’s also got a wider and brighter display compared to previous Kindles and reading is truly a treat on the new Kindle Scrbe. With the Kindle Scribe, you’ll be able to read, take notes or just let your imagination run wild, all on a single device.
That said, I wish it was waterproof and a tad lighter, which would make it more travel friendly in my opinion. I also wish the design had thinner bezels, amplifying the screen instead.
All in all, in the Kindle Scribe works well as a digital notebook plus e-reader and we can only hope that with added updates, the Kindle Scribe becomes even more useful and functional over time.