Thursday, 5 July 2012

Thoughts on The Kindle Touch

A few weeks ago I got myself a new Kindle Touch. Since I'm going off to college soon I thought it would be useful to get a device that eliminated the need to carry around huge heavy cartons of my substantial book collection. I must say that there is something mindblowing about the idea that it can carry around a library. It brings to mind this little comic from xkcd.
There's little to criticize about the device. It's perfect for reading, listening to music and light web browsing. There is however one area in which the device which fell short of my expectations: The battery life. So let the nitpicking begin. Amazon promises two months of reading time on a single charge of the battery. My first full charge however lasted for only about a week even with the wireless off! After browsing through pages and pages of amazon forums I discovered that the problem did not lay in the battery but in the fact that Amazon's estimates were a bit too optimistic. It says on their website that you can
"read for up to two months on a single charge with wireless off and a half hour of reading per day"
Being an incorrigible math nut, I decided to do a little calculation to get a more realistic figure on how long the Kindle touch battery will last. From Wikipedia I get that the average reading rate of an adult human in is from 250 to 300 words per day. I assumed that Amazon probably used this statistic to come up with their "half an hour of reading per day" estimate. Next  I counted the number of lines on a page in the kindle touch with the default font size. It's about 25. The Kindle displays about 10 words per line meaning that each page displays about 250 words on avearge (I don't think the closeness of this number to the average adult reading rate is a coincidence).

So I interpreted Amazon's "half an hour of reading time" as being equivalent to about 30 page flips (That seems awfully small I wonder if I'm wrong?). This should be a reasonable measure of battery drain because EInk screens only use up power when they refresh or change what's on the screen. They do not require power to maintain a particular image or some text. So now our two months of reading time dwindles down into about 30(1800 minutes) hours (assuming each month has thirty days)  of continuous reading time or about 1800 page flips. This explains why my first charge lasted only a week as I read about 4-5 hours per day. Do that for a week and you get about 30 hours of reading time.

Considering the fact that an average book like "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley has 3993 locations (that's the kindle's substitute for a page number) which translates to about 2000 page flips and that a person like me can finish a paperback edition of a book like that (If I find the book exciting and therefore impossible to put down) in about 8 hours or so ( I read quite a bit faster that 250 words per minute) I could probably drain the Kindle's battery with one night of reading!

So I think that amazon should have quoted a more straightforward figure like "Thirty hours of continuous reading" or "1800 page flips" instead of "Two months". For more prolific readers the "two months" estimate is quite misleading. It's a bit like saying "Our laptop battery will last you two weeks with WiFi off and half an hour of usage per day" rather than "Our Laptop battery will last you 7 hours on a single charge." A misleading claim don't you think?
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