Amazon’s Kindle Scribe Desires to Make Studying and Writing Scorching Once more


With the Kindle Scribe, Amazon is hoping {that a} gadget it launched through the George W. Bush administration could be its subsequent massive factor once more.

Amazon does not draw back from flashy concepts, whether or not it is a supply drone, robotic canine or a dialog with digital assistant Alexa. However this week, Amazon began promoting its Kindle Scribe, a refreshed model of the E Ink reader first launched again earlier than Amazon even had a cellular app.

Kindle Scribe is not futuristic. It is not semi-sentient. It does not even have colour. Its massive replace: Along with studying, you possibly can write on it now too. 

However by rejuvenating the low-frills Kindle, Amazon is hoping to offer you new causes to expertise the centuries-old pleasure of studying. The primary Kindle launched the identical yr as the primary iPhone, and within the decade and a half since, our private gadgets have grown smarter, sooner, flashier — and now exert a larger affect on our psychological well-being. Swimming towards this tide, Kindle Scribe’s mission is unglamorous. It is engineered that will help you get deep into duties undermined by most internet-enabled gadgets: attentive studying and note-taking. 

“We have expanded the world of what clients can do however nonetheless saved this concept of a sanctuary the place folks can get into the content material and never be distracted,” Kevin Keith, Amazon’s vice chairman of product administration and advertising, stated in an interview. 

Scribe’s actual advance could merely be that Amazon, the world’s fourth greatest firm by market worth, is making it. 

Kobo, reMarkable and Boox E Ink tablets from smaller makers already supply writing as a characteristic, and a few have giant codecs with display high quality practically nearly as good because the Scribe’s. However none allow you to mark up Kindle books, and a few do not even assist the Kindle app. With Scribe, Amazon has opened up its huge and fashionable library to your scribbling.

Including a brand new sparkle to the Kindle expertise is smart, on condition that Amazon says its clients purchase extra Kindle books than bodily books. And there is a giant potential base of future Kindle customers who already use Amazon’s e-reading app, contemplating that the Kindle app has been downloaded greater than 326 million occasions globally since 2012 onto Apple and Android gadgets as an alternative of Kindles. 

Chris LaBrutto, a principal product supervisor at Amazon, stated Kindle customers have been already making a “Cliff Notes” model of their Kindle books with highlights and typed notes. Including a stylus to jot down on the Scribe elevates that have, letting readers get extra actively engaged, LaBrutto stated.

The query is whether or not, after 15 years of rising smartphone habit, gadget consumers like you’re longing to return to studying and writing in shades of grey.

E Ink’s followers like its limitations

First bought as a part of e-readers within the mid-2000s, E Ink screens have earned devoted admirers from readers of all genres. The shows render textual content and graphics in grey scale with tiny, charged capsules that flip both black or white in response to detrimental or constructive electrical indicators. They draw far much less energy than a standard pill, giving them battery lives measured in weeks as an alternative of hours. 

You can even learn an E Ink show in direct daylight and keep away from shining blue gentle into your eyes, as a result of it is not backlit. That instantly appealed to Nick Value, a safety engineer in Portland, Oregon, who’s used various Kindles with E Ink, in addition to a Boox e-reader.

“I discovered it was so much simpler on my eyes within the night once I’m making an attempt to go to mattress,” Value stated of his first Kindle’s display.

Now playing:
Watch this:

Kindle Scribe: An In-Depth Look at Amazon’s Newest E-Reader


For aficionados, the simplicity of the devices are the point. In addition to eliminating bright colors shining from screens, E Ink devices typically don’t offer the entirety of the internet, a massive distraction from focused reading. That was the appeal of the reMarkable 2, an E Ink tablet with a stylus that came out in 2020, said Andrew Loeb, an English professor at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who wanted to be able to focus on his reading and note-taking.

“For the same price, you can get an iPad,” he said, but that would defeat the purpose. “If I have an iPad, then I’ll do other things with it.”

Writing on an e-book is a logical next step when trying to capture the experience of reading from paper. Loeb uses his reMarkable 2 to mark up student’s papers, solving a problem he faced at the beginning of the pandemic when his classes went remote. He also likes to use it to read articles and take notes at meetings and conferences. The tactile sensation of writing on the tablet adds to the experience, he said.

E Ink that engages the senses

With devices like the reMarkable to compete with, Amazon aimed to make Kindle Scribe a high-end writing experience. 

Scribe’s distinction is its combination of upscale features. Its realistic writing experience coupled with a 10.2-inch screen with sharp, 300 ppi image quality bring together aspects of a variety of well-liked e-readers. 

Amazon sent me a test unit so I could get a feel for it myself. I found the stylus captures the papery pleasure of writing, rendering a sharp line immediately. The screen has just enough texture to elicit a satisfying scritching sound as you write.

That experience was the result of intense effort, according to LaBrutto and Tim Wall, a principal industrial designer at Amazon. It involved fine-tuning the texture of the screen, the sharpness of the images and the immediacy of the writing experience.

With an E Ink display, “you’re not actually writing on the surface that you’re writing on,” said Wall. “Everything below that lens, that surface, is additive.”

The team focused on microns of distance between the top layer of the display and all the components that needed to be sandwiched under it along with the E Ink. They also focused on microseconds of latency, or how long it takes the line to appear after the stylus makes contact with the screen.

Amazon says Kindle Scribe is geared in particular to reading nonfiction. The large display sharply renders charts and graphs in gray scale and fits more text on each page. In addition to sticking notes in Kindle books, you can mark up PDFs and Microsoft Word documents. Adding handwriting also makes sense for nonfiction, as research has shown it improves learning compared with typing notes.

Doodling on the Kindle Scribe

Kindle Scribe’s notebooks let users draw, take notes and make lists with the stylus.

David Carnoy/CNET

Highlighting and marking directly on a PDF helped me absorb information from a dense legal brief, for example. Reading a nonfiction book in the Kindle App, I went right into highlighting important names and dates, as well as creating a running commentary with both handwritten and text-based sticky notes. 

(I’ll be returning the Kindle Scribe test unit after this story is published, at which point I’ll go back to the Kindle app on my phone — where I won’t be able to access my handwritten notes. I can download them separately as a PDF. But my highlighting and text-based notes created on the Scribe will remain for me to see in my Kindle phone app.)

Writing on the Kindle book involved more steps than writing directly on the PDF did, something CNET reviewers found unfortunate and cumbersome. The Kindle team made this design choice to leave pages uncluttered, Keith said. It also means readers can adjust their font without disrupting the location of their notations on the page, he added. 

“One of the things customers love about Kindles is it being distraction free,” he said.

If Scribe succeeds, this simplicity will keep you inside Amazon’s universe, without the gadget needing a dash of color, let alone the ability to fly like a camera drone or roll and dance like a home robot.

Supply hyperlink