Review: Buying Kindle Paperwhite in Singapore

The Kindle Paperwhite is a grayscale ebook reader from Amazon. There are already lots of reviews out there. Instead I'm writing about my experience on buying a Kindle Paperwhite in Singapore, buying ebooks, the Kindle Paperwhite kinks and flaws and where to get covers.

In the box: Getting to know your kindle, Kindle Paperwhite and a USB cable

Where to buy the Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is not for sale in Singapore. However, there are two ways to get it. I got mine from the middle men in Singapore. I call them middle men because they are not authorized dealers. You should not expect any form of warranty or support from them. They will provide you a brand new kindle, in the original Kindle sealed box. My guess is they import Kindles from US at a slight discount and make about $30 to $40 from the sale of each Kindle. I got my Paperwhite (ads-supported version) from InterGizmo at $188 (Note: he sells the 2013 edition at $218 now).

The other way of getting the Paperwhite is to buy from Amazon and ship it to a carrier like ComGateway (I have used them several times). If you are shipping this from Amazon, here is my estimate is USD $119 * 1.3 + SGD $20 = SGD $175. The delivery time is longer but you save about $30 plus dollar. If you are interested in getting from Amazon directly, go to Kindle Paperwhite (with Ads) for $119 and Paperwhite (without Ads) for $139.

** If you like what are reading here and intend to buy the Kindle Paperwhite direct from Amazon, you can support me by clicking on my Kindle Paperwhite affiliate link. If this is your first time at Amazon, signing up for an account is easy. They have a Amazon Prime program that has free trial for 30 days - gives free 2-days shipping, unlimited video streaming (requires a US VPN) and borrow ebook for free.

The ads-supported version greets with an ad you every time you open the cover.

No-frills, Save-the-Earth Packaging

Picking up the black package from the seller, I noticed how light and slim it was. The box is made of rough cardboard with a perforated opening. You get a sense that Amazon is less concern about the form than the function of the packaging. This is vastly different from the Apple style packaging that I am used to. Upon opening the box, I see the Paperwhite, a USB cable and a "Getting Started" paper. This no frills packaging is fine with me too. I'm all for saving the earth.

Buying eBooks in Singapore

Buying eBooks for your Kindle is easy. Visit the Kindle eBook store, browse for the book you want, pay and the book is automatically downloaded to your Kindle. I have written a guide on buying Kindle eBook here to show how easy it is. Singapore credit cards are accepted as payment option for eBooks. Note that the book you buy is in Amazon propriety format, AWZ, which is DRM protected. This means you can read it only on a Kindle. The cool thing is Amazon lets you loan your purchased eBook to another Kindle owner to promote sharing.

Paperwhite Full Screen Refresh at High Temperature

I'll talk about some of the quirks I noticed after using the Kindle Paperwhite for a month. First up, the Kindle screen does full screen refresh (black-out) on every page turn once the temperature is above 32 degrees. This is different from a normal refresh where the kindle resets the individual pixels and darkens the new text. In our Singapore weather, you can hit that on a hot day after using the Paperwhite for awhile. This is in fact an e-ink thing where it requires an optimum temperature to work in. If you search online, you will find people talking about this problem in Amazon forum.

Some people are not bothered whereas it irks me a little. Also, when the Kindle does a partial refresh, the text are not as crisp which makes it a dilemma. Apart from the refresh quirks, I find that the page turn is slow as I more accustomed to the iPad. The led light at the bottom of the screen is not evenly distributed and looks awkward at some angle. To illustrate this, I took a photo of the iPad (left) and the Paperwhite (right). The dark splotches at the bottom is due to the unevenness of the LED back-lights.  The 2013 version of the Paperwhite attempts to fix some of these flaws.

* Update 19 Dec 2013: After using the Paperwhite for three months, I am accustomed to the page refresh and do not notice it now. I guess we are creatures of habit. The other thing is the battery last for three weeks after each charge. This is very long when I compared it to my Galaxy S4 that cannot last one day.

Left: iPad Retina, Right: Kindle Paperwhite
Another feature that I wish the Kindle has, is the ambient light sensor. Being able to detect the background light and adjust the LED back-light automatically is convenient and saves power too. I seldom turn off the back-light in a bright environment. And it's not because of my laziness but simply I am not aware that the light is on at all.

Installing More Fonts on the Kindle

There is lack of font choices on the Kindle and the few that is provided is not to my liking. Somehow I find the rendering of Helvetica font on the Kindle is fatter than usual for my liking. Fortunately, this can be easily fixed by putting your own fonts onto the Kindle.

Steps to adding fonts:
  1. Plug your Kindle to your desktop using the USB cable supplied and click on the Kindle device in My Computer.
  2. In the Kindle directory, create an empty (zero byte) file with the name of "USE_ALT_FONTS"
  3. Next, create a fonts directory and put your fonts in there.
  4. Your fonts should follow the format of <font_name>-<style>.tff. For example: OpenSans-Regular.ttf, OpenSans-Bold.tff.
Tap the top left and bottom right
together to capture a screenshot
Once done, unplug the USB cable and restart your Kindle (tap on the menu icon on the top right corner, tap on Settings, tap on the menu icon again and you will see the Restart option).

After restarting your Kindle, go ahead and tap on the font icon and you will find a screen similar to the one beside. Notice that the list is now extended to include the hidden Chinese/Korean fonts and the fonts you added.

I recommend visiting Google fonts and downloading some nice fonts. If you are not sure where to start, have a look at this page for some ideas: I am using the font Open Sans right now which is thin, sans-serif and very easy to read. Being a fast reader and I like fonts that has readability and less fatigue on the eyes.

Getting a Kindle Smart Cover in Singapore

You will want to get the smart cover for your kindle. It automatically activates the kindle when you open the cover. This is so much more convenient than having to press the tiny power button at the bottom of the kindle. The official Amazon Kindle Paperwhite leather cover is USD $39.99 or around SGD $52. For that, you get a leather cover that fits really well. I got mine from this seller at Qoo10 that stocks a range of styles and colors: magnetic clasp, leather brown, etc.

I bought a Tiffany blue cover for $18. The delivery for normal post took three days; fast enough for me. The cover fit is slightly tight and the quality is above average. It was value for my money. You should note that if you have the ads supported version, opening the cover will show the ads and requires you to swipe to unlock. Compared to the non ads version, the kindle will immediately show the last page you are reading. This to me completes the book reading experience. Fortunately, Amazon had provided a way to get rid of the ads legally. Even if you bought the ads version, you can pay $15 on Amazon to get rid of it.

Alternatives to the Kindle

There are alternatives outside of the Kindle world. I will consider the Kobo Aura HD a strong contender if not for it's price of USD $220. You get very high resolution e-ink and access to independent ebookstores. However, at that kind of price, you can go straight for the Nexus 7 2013 edition. It's build quality is top-notch, the display is vibrant and you are not limited to just reading: browsing, checking emails, playing games. If you want a cheaper coloured option, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (7-inch) sells for USD $159.99.
As you can see, Amazon has aggressively priced their Kindle Paperwhite to beat the competition. It is said that every Kindle Paperwhite is sold at cost. Amazon only makes a profit when you purchase the eBooks through it's Kindle ecosystem.

What an E-book Reader Means to Me

At the end, despite its flaw, the Kindle delivers a satisfactory reading experience. The top reason for getting a dedicated e-book reader is cutting out the distractions of incoming messages and alerts on your mobile devices. In your ever connected life, sometimes you just want to get away from all the noise and lose yourself in a good story. For those moments, you have a Kindle.

Related Posts
Buying Kindle eBook from Singapore
Check out my blog on how to get free shipping when you buy from
I also teach you how to ship Amazon packages from US to Singapore using comGateway.

Buy now from Amazon
2013 Edition Kindle Paperwhite with Special Offers
Official Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover
GreatShield Ultra Anti-Glare Screen Protector Film for Kindle
Google Nexus 7 Tablet (7-Inch, 16GB, Black) by ASUS (2013)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (7-Inch, White)