With the Kindle Scribe, Amazon is launching an e-book reader for the first time, on which you can also write with a pen. In addition, the device is huge. The test shows what advantages and disadvantages this has for bookworms and diary journalists.
Amazon’s popular Kindle e-book reader family is growing: With the Kindle Scribe, the company is launching a giant 10.2-inch tablet with a pin-sharp image and a stylus for the first time. That’s right: you can not only read on the Kindle Scribe, you can also write letters or notes yourself. But for whom is the gigantic e-ink tablet, which Amazon sells from 370 euros, suitable?
Kindle Scribe – the “big ham” among e-book readers
First the looks. The Kindle Scribe has little in common with the handy little readers in the product family. The display measures a huge 10.2 inches, making it 3.4 inches larger than the previous Oasis luxury model. In addition, there is a thick edge, which is probably mainly used to hold on to. The overall width is 19.5 centimeters and the height is around 22 centimetres. With the right cover, you can add another two centimeters in both directions.
Of course, this also has an effect on the weight. Lying one-handed in the hammock, only Arnold Schwarzenegger reads with the Scribe. The device alone weighs 431 grams, with pen and sleeve it is 650 grams. For comparison: the simple Kindle (here in the star test) weighs 157 grams.
After all: the inner life has it all. The Kindle Scribe is illuminated by 35 LEDs and, despite its large diagonal, offers a pixel density of 300 ppi, which ensures a well-lit and extremely sharp image. The memory is between 16 and 64 gigabytes, the surcharge per variant is manageable. Amazon advises: “If you primarily read e-books and documents, you should be fine with 16 GB. If you listen to a lot of Audible audio books, you can also choose a model with 32 or 64 GB of memory.” Brief introduction: With headphones it is possible to use the Kindle as a playback device for audio books.
The pen is included in the price, the cheapest variant with 16 gigabytes and standard input pen costs 370 euros, the largest model with 64 gigabytes and premium pen is 450 euros. The premium stylus has an “eraser” and a shortcut button that can be assigned various functions. Amazon also has matching cases on offer, the fabric variant costs 63 euros, the leather model 90 euros. All in all, with a luxury Scribe and leather case, the maximum is 540 euros.
The bill is so interesting because the main competitor of the Kindle Scribe, the e-ink tablet “Remarkable 2” with similar equipment is almost 100 euros more expensive. Its basic version is also more expensive than the entry-level model from Amazon.
Kindle Scribe for bookworms
First of all: If you only want to read books with the Kindle Scribe, you are making the absolutely wrong choice. Although the eyes don’t get tired on the large display even with long texts, the arms get very heavy over time due to the heavy weight. Because the Kindle Scribe allows you to read books in a horizontal orientation but doesn’t have the ability to view multiple pages side-by-side, the large device really doesn’t offer any advantage over a traditional Kindle or one of the higher-end models.
The situation is different if you want to leaf through (colorless) comics or manga on the device. Of course, the large display shows its strengths with drawings and looks as if you actually have the corresponding booklet in your hand.
Regardless of the screen content, the illumination of the Kindle Scribe is very successful, the adjustable color temperature makes it easier for the eyes not to overstrain. Due to the enormous dimensions, there are also enough battery cells on board to supply the device with energy for weeks.
Kindle Scribe for writers
Without a doubt, the most important and best feature of the Kindle Scribe is the ability to write on the device. The pen, which is the premium version in the case of the test device, fits perfectly in the hand and writing on the screen actually feels a bit like putting something down on paper. The surface of the Kindle Scribe appears to be slightly rough, giving the impression of feeling a kind of feedback that is familiar from ballpoint pens.
And the Kindle pen has one more thing in common with a pen: neither have a battery and the only thing you have to replace every jubilee is the refill. In the case of the Kindle, it’s the pen tip that wears out over time. If you don’t need the pen, it either sticks magnetically to the side or is in the case.
Various documents can be edited or written on the Kindle Scribe. Notebooks come in many forms, including handy to-do lists. Notes can be stored in books, which are deposited with small symbols in the text and reveal handwritten information with a tip. An e-mail function can also be used to send Word documents or PDF files to the tablet, which can then be edited with the pen. The notes mentioned are available in Word documents, and in PDF files you can even paint, write or highlight completely freely. When done, it’s sent back to the sender by email. Actually practical.
However, it seems as if Amazon didn’t think the Kindle Scribe through to the end at this point. Because the device lacks two important properties for the perfect note-taking machine. It is not possible to load external documents onto the Kindle Scribe other than by email. A connection to cloud networks such as OneDrive or Dropbox is not possible, editing documents is always connected to sending e-mails.
Also, the Kindle does not support handwriting recognition, also known as OCR (optical character recognition). This means the device is unable to typewrite notes, change the font, or otherwise process them. Every note is and remains your own handwriting – which can lead to problems with legibility in the case of a “sucking claw”.
When asked, Amazon did not want to comment on whether this function will be added at a later date.
Conclusion: The Kindle Scribe has a top target group
370 euros for an e-book reader – ouch. For the traditionally quite cheap e-ink devices, this is really a proud price that buyers somehow have to justify to themselves. The Kindle Scribe could therefore have a hard time penetrating this market. The screen quality is beyond any doubt, and Amazon has also done a great job with the writing function. It is great fun to work with the device or to read visually stunning manga on it.
Due to the lack of connection to external document storage and the apparently conscious decision not to use OCR, many potential buyers are more likely to look in the direction of “Remarkable 2”. Amazon itself sees people “who like to read like paper without distractions and want to take notes or mark relevant passages as well as people who prefer to maintain handwritten notebooks, diaries or to-do lists” as a target group. Whether there are enough of them remains to be seen.
As far as reading books goes, it’s probably better to look elsewhere. The high weight and the missing display of several pages make the device rather uninteresting compared to the common alternatives like the Kindle Paperwhite or Tolino.
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