The Kindle Scribe kind of sucks

I’ve been intrigued by the Kindle Scribe for months and months but have found myself ambivalent about it.

Thanks to a Black Friday sale, I thought I’d take the plunge and wanted to share my thoughts. After using it for the better part of a week, I have to say it’s not a perfect device, but it’s also something new enough but also doesn’t seem to have as clear of an audience as other reading devices. There are a lot of other helpful reviews out there already, that tend to focus on the hardware side of things, so instead I’m gathering my thoughts on what I really care about — in terms of note taking.

The Good:

The screen is excellent and has a pleasing matte feel to it that somehow does remind me of a printed page.

The pen that comes included is better than I would have expected, just based on how it feels. Personally, I don’t really see the use of the premium pen that costs $30 more. I thought this Ars Technica review was helpful in comparing the experience of the Kindle Scribe pen: “Amazon’s Kindle Scribe is pen-centric hardware let down by book-centric software

 

The Bad:

I think it’s a little too big for what it is. On the one hand, you could say it has the dimensions of a typical hardcover book. But, part of the appeal for me with other Kindle devices has been its portability — my previous reading device has been the Kindle Oasis, which was perfect for one-handed reading.

The Kindle Scribe is a two-handed reading device and borders on being too big. I’m not getting any younger and the many years of reading on screens might mean that I need bigger screens in general. In my opinion, a size halfway between the Oasis and the Scribe would have been even better.

It feels a lot like handling an iPad, which just happens to have an Eink screen.

The screen feels very quick and responsive. Probably as a result of the bigger screen, it does feel like it handles books with tables and diagrams better than other Kindle devices — no need to press and hold to look at a diagram or table in closer detail, which is kind of nice.

The main reason I got the Scribe was to make notes while reading.

I am someone who almost always reads with a pencil in hand. Which is sometimes good for the kind of stuff that I do.

The Good e-Reader blog has a good breakdown on latest features that have come earlier this year with the software update: “Kindle Scribe now convert handwritten notes to text
My main gripe is that there are currently only a limited number of ebooks that fully utilize the capabilities of the Kindle Scribe which is kind of disappointing. You can see the options through the Kindle Store, and these Write-on books: https://www.amazon.com/b?node=32897194011

Verdict: This is one of the least clear-cut decisions I’ve felt about any Kindle device. I think the Kindle Scribe is made for people like me, who write and take a lot of notes when they read.

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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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