Review: Kindle Lighted Leather Cover
The Kindle 3 makes for the 5th Kindle I’ve bought (previously 2 Kindle 1‘s, a Kindle 2, and Kindle DX Gen 1), it also marks the first Kindle I’ve actually bought a case for. The Kindle 1 came with a case, albeit not a great one. For most of the life of the Kindle 2, I didn’t have one, but fairly recently I was given a beat up spare to use. I stick the Kindle in my fatigue pockets all the time, and the case makes it so I don’t have to worry about breaking another screen (did that with a K1). Since I’ve had the case on the K2, I’ve grown somewhat attached to having it. I figured it would be nice to have another… and let’s be realistic… this new case has a freaking light built in! How cool is that?!
Let’s be totally honest, the Kindle Lighted Leather Cover is fairly pricey, as cases go. The Kindle is $190 and the lighted case is $60, making it almost a third the cost of the reader itself. You could go and buy the non-lighted Kindle Leather Cover for only $35, but in my case… the LED light was just too cool to pass up. I know it’s only a light, but it is the concept that really got me. Additionally, I’m not particularly impressed with Amazon’s execution of the light, but it does work.
So first, let’s talk about what I do like. In storage mode, the light fits entirely within the case and really had very little sticking out. The transition from leather to plastic isn’t perfect, but good enough that you’d have to seriously work on catching it on something. The light itself is a good brightness level to me. It is bright enough to assist in low light situations (like say a restaurant with “mood lighting”), while not so bright that is it blinding in the pitch dark (like say in bed).
The other nifty piece is that the light is entirely integrated into the Kindle 3’s power. If the light is extended, it only turns on when the Kindle turns on. If you turn the Kindle off (or it idles off because you fell asleep), the light also turns off.
Moving on, let’s cover what I don’t like. The biggest single problem with the light is the fact that it is mounted in the top right (specifically off to the side). So that corner is well lit while the bottom left is much dimmer. Not so much as to make it unreadable, but enough that it irritates my sense of balance. I’d much prefer a centered light. Also, due to how the plastic for the light is bent, it can require a bit more finesse than I’d like, just to get it in the case and stored again. It would also be nice if there was a brightness control for the light.
One major caveat. People don’t realize this, but the Kindle manages it’s truly amazing battery life by the fact that it isn’t in fact on and running most of the time. The Kindle screen, being E Ink, is only drawing power when flipping a page or updating content. The wireless, if you have it on, is only pinging out every once in a while to check for updates. Why do I mention this? Because the light sucks batteries. The light is, in fact, always on. This is in contrast to everything else on the Kindle.
I’ve read reports that calculated the battery life of the Kindle, with light on, is approximately 20 hours. This roughly jives with my experience. I charged the Kindle last Thursday and used it to read at least 3-4 hours a day. It lasted to the end of Monday, so roughly 4 full days. During this time I left the Wifi AND 3G on the entire time, along with using the light most of the time.
To me, this is perfectly acceptable. In reality I make a point of only turning on the wireless when I need it. I also do not need to have the light on while riding BART; I only use the light at night. I find it a little more pleasant to have a dimmer light to read by, rather than a 100W bulb lighting up the entire room. I will probably be able to go 2 weeks between charges, even using the light.
In summary: The case is good, not great, but good. I’d prefer they’d make some changes, especially to bring down the price. The case will definitely be kept because if nothing else, it is a nice high quality looking case. Besides, I enjoy being the one on BART with Chairman Mao’s little burgundy red book.