The new Kindle Scribe
I read throngs of ebooks every year, but have never really used an Amazon Kindle reader before. I’ve occasionally used the Kindle app on my phone. But now when I read a book, it’s usually through the Libby library app — which offers the opportunity to read a book either through the Kindle app or its own reader. I always opt for the reader. My thought: Why complicate matters and leave the app? But Amazon loaned me its new Kindle Scribe last week. This is the brand-new Kindle reader that also allows you to take notes on it, writing by hand on the screen. Being that I’m a huge note taker for work, I welcomed the opportunity to try it out.
Rewinding for a moment, I’ve tried several note-taking apps on various tablets and phones in the past. And they work okay. I also have several electronic paper-pen sets that companies have sent me through the years — allowing me to hand-write notes and then digitize them by scanning the pages. Those to me require too many steps. But what caught my eye about the Kindle Scribe is it provides me the ability to write on a large 10.2-inch display that looks and feels appropriate for writing notes. There’s no latency when you put the digital stylus to the screen. And you can pick from many different types of digital paper – lined sheets to graph paper to checklists and everything in between. You can also pick a pen tip size, as well. I’ve been finding the experience of writing notes on it flawless. And I’ve enjoyed the overall process. Mind you, I’m very used to handwriting via pen and paper – it’s my preferred method because I love the feel of it, I’ve been used to it since childhood, and it’s analog. When I’m done, I either digitally scan my handwritten notes for reference later or go back and type them in. The latter allows everything I’ve written to kind of settle into my brain so that I remember it better. On the Scribe, I can just email the notes directly from the machine to my laptop if I want. It doesn’t read them via OCR and type them out, like many note-taking apps do on tablets. And I’m okay with that.
Ironically, what I thought was a little messy was reading e-books on the Scribe. I’m just not used to it. I don’t really know where the controls are, and it took some getting used to bringing up hidden menu features. Once I figured it all out, I was fine and really enjoyed the experience. But for the moment, I prefer reading books on the library app on my phone, because I can hold it in one hand and quickly turn pages. It feels much more of an accomplishment to turn the page five or six times for every one page I experience on the larger Scribe screen. But the Scribe may change my mind. I love the 300 PPI resolution. It’s an electronic ink display, meaning it’s in black-and-white with plenty of gray shades in between. I know a lot of Scribe reviewers have been disappointed that they cannot write in the margins on e-books. That’s not an issue with me, as I don’t typically take notes in books. That said, the Scribe allows you to make notes on the page of a book, which it then hides in a box with a little icon. Once you click on the icon, you can see what notes you wrote. I think this would be a great feature for college students, but I get that if I was still in school, I would probably want to write notes directly in specific locations on the pages themselves – or in the margins – where I could see them physically mixed in with the “printed” words.
The other cool part of the Scribe: You can log into your Amazon account on a computer, then drag-and-drop 13 types of files onto the Scribe. They will appear in the library on all your Kindle devices. Plus, you can also sync any notes created on the Scribe with your other devices through the Kindle app. One final note: Depending on the cover you order, you’ll either get the standard stylus or an upgraded one that includes a digital eraser. Honestly, the eraser is so worth the upgrade. If you press it on a word you just wrote on “lined” paper, it erases the word as if it was really pencil on paper, but keeps the lines underneath. It’s just fun. Starting at $330 for the smallest storage size and lesser pen, the Scribe makes a great holiday gift for readers, students and note-takers. I would definitely opt for the upgrades if it’s within your budget.