Kindle Paperwhite Review: Now Available in Canada

The Kindle Paperwhite (now available in Canada) is the first eBook reader I have ever owned and, while I may not be able to directly compare it to previous generations, I can certainly testify to how great this iteration is overall.

If you do not yet have an eBook reader, get one. They are ridiculously convenient and very affordable. When you do decide to get an eBook reader, make it a Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Glo. After performing extensive research, I came to the conclusion that the Kindle Paperwhite beats out the Glo primarily based on book selection and the Amazon ecosystem, otherwise they are fairly comparable. The Kobo Glo device itself may be more polished overall.

The Kindle Paperwhite is basically flawless; it incorporates all of the things that have made the Kindle the leading eBook reader and made it better. The e-ink technology is incredible, perfectly replicating the printed word. What makes the Paperwhite stand out, however, is the back-lit display (hence the name). Now you can read books more conveniently than ever — no external light sources required, and, unlike devices with glossy screens, the Kindle Paperwhite still reads perfectly in direct sunlight.

So what are its flaws? It is hard to find many but there are a few. Ghosting (remnants of the previously displayed page/image) can be found from time to time unless you set the device to refresh the screen after each page turn and the ghosting makes browsing the web or Amazon store somewhat painful.

Kindle Paperwhite Review vs. Kobo Glo

More importantly though, it seems Amazon cheaped-out on the backlight. Unlike the Kobo Glo, the Paperwhite does not have an evenly lit screen. It is hard to notice in moderate room lighting but when reading in a dark room it is easy to notice the shadows created by the placement of the LEDs towards the bottom of the screen. It seems they could have avoided this distracting effect by adding more LEDs to eliminate the shadows in between, but alas, we are left to deal with it.

Overall though, I could not be happier! I just downloaded the entire Sherlock Holmes collection, that I own in 2 massive tomes in paperback, for a total of $4. The best part is that I can now read across devices including on my iPhone. So I can read on my Kindle and then pick up right from where I left off on the Kindle app on my phone. Very convenient

I waited this long to buy an e-reader and presumably so have many of you. Now is the time to make the jump!

Does Technology Make Life Better (The World A Better Place)?

I recently had a debate about the answer to this question with a friend. We never settled the conversation, of course. These big questions rarely have simple answers but I would like to take a moment and delve into my thoughts on the subject.

Yes.

That pretty much sums up my view on the matter but perhaps I should explain.

Technology has consistently made life better – much better. When considering this question you must first consider technology throughout the course of history and not just very recent advancements. Thousands, perhaps even hundreds, of years ago Humans spent much of their time just like any other animal; trying to survive off the land. Any day could be your last, literally. A simple flu virus could wipe out a family. Consider the following technological innovations and how they would impact a family long in the past and to this day:

Antibiotics (saving lives from bacterial infections that routinely laid waste to people of all ages)

Mass production of food reducing the amount of toilingdoes-technology-make-life-better in fields and foraging for food to live on

Mass communication allowing for social connections across the globe. Obviously the benefits for mass communication are anything but trivial.

Over the course of time, people have become an extraordinarily efficient species. We now spend next to no time looking after our most basic needs (safety, food and shelter etc.) and instead spend more time meeting higher needs (love, esteem, comfort, recreation). Many people take for granted how great life is today but this is only because human beings live with “relative mindsets” in that they only know what they can compare to. Put any of us back several hundred years and we would struggle – a lot.

A common argument is that, although first world countries benefit from technological innovation, the poor do not. This is a fallacy of course. Although members of first world countries are often the first people to enjoy technological developments, it does not mean that the poor are not made better off. In fact, although conditions in Africa are still abysmal to this day, conditions have certainly improved as we are now able to offer aid to these people whereas in the past we were not. In the past (before mass communication) we wouldn’t even know that their living conditions were bad – and even if we did, there was relatively little we could do to help if we were spending all of our time trying to survive off our land ourselves.

Some of the biggest advancements in technology that have helped third world countries have been advancements in crop yields. Through technology we are able to increase crop yields to allow more people to live off the same amount of land. This both accommodates the world’s growing population and allows impoverished communities to improve their living conditions – even if only slightly.

All of the above things I’ve mentioned focus on how technology has benefited us on a basic level. I have not even begun to scratch the surface of how technology allows us to visit parts of the world we would otherwise not be able to visit (via an airplane) or the miracle of the computer (historically beyond-imagination). It is as if we have gained the ability to use magic.

Try going back 1,000 years and show them an iPhone. If they don’t declare you God, I would be very surprised.

Warning: you may be declared a wizard or witch and killed on the spot

The Social Media Tech Bubble

social media tech bubbleOne of my favourite things to do when I have a few minutes to spare is to pull out my iPhone 4 and begin sifting through article after article (if you want a great reliable reader that works for your browser and phone, check out Feedly). The amount of information available at your fingertips these days is amazing but it seems to me like many investors are not keeping up to speed. Hear me out.

Each and everyday I read at least 3 articles about up-and-coming tech start-ups; most of which exist in the realm of social media. The question becomes: when is enough, enough?

I was hardly old enough at the time of the first tech-bubble burst to keep up with the news and follow industry trends but even so, it seems that history may be repeating itself, as it often does.

There are a number of social media powerhouses in the arena currently such as Twitter and Facebook and, despite ridiculous valuations, their success is virtually assured. Facebook is now generating heaps of cash and will continue to pursue additional means of doing so, and Twitter has now amassed such a large user-base that it is only a matter of time before they start printing money as well. Not all websites can enjoy this level of success, however.

Each day, Tech Crunch publishes a number of articles describing tech start-ups (mostly just social media-based websites) and their ability to obtain funding. It baffles me how it seems that every entrepreneur that creates a website seems to be able to obtain vast amounts of funding. There is a finite demand for photo-sharing websites/apps for example, and yet it seems that each day 3 more websites crop up that offer the same benefits.

Many of these new websites/services/apps are able to obtain many millions of dollars in funding and I can only begin to wonder how they will ever be able to make money. Even if they do enjoy some popularity, it will likely be short-lived, leaving investors with empty pockets. It is only a matter of time before this ever-growing tech bubble bursts.

A recent article from Tech Crunch points out that Facebook and Twitter are the exception, not the rule. The reality is that most start-ups will fail sooner or later. Chances are it will be sooner rather than later, especially when considering social media sites which are almost entirely driven by short-term popularity.

Social media was “the new thing” but it is not so new anymore. Those that have already established their presence will continue to thrive. New entrants will face increasing competition, just as in any other maturing industry or marketspace. I think investors easily see this with other industries but seem to turn a blind eye when it involves new technologies and social media. As Sarah Lacy points out in the Tech Crunch article, there will be a number of great new social media start-ups down the road, but they will be the exception, not the rule.

But what do you think? Do you see a tech bubble forming? If so, when do you think it will pop?