By Harold Glicken

Tribune News Service

The Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is about the size of a paperback book without the bulk. It weighs 7 ounces and has a 6-inch screen. It looks terrific, and type on its front-lit screen is blacker than real ink. If you’re an avid reader, there are more than a million books and periodicals to download.

If all you need is a highly portable reader, the Paperwhite, which is about in the middle of the Kindle e-readers line, is an impressive buy at $120. Keep in mind, though, that it is just a reader with a few useful utilities. You can download wirelessly from the Amazon Kindle store, at prices a few dollars below those of ink and paper books. You can get dictionary definitions and even send snippets of content via email. You must be connected to a wireless or cellular network to make that work. For another $60 it will make that cellular connection, if your carrier offers it. Books download quickly, with sample pages of each book. By the way, the $120 model has ads; it will take another $20 to get rid of them.

But for me, there are many reasons to dislike the Kindle. I exchanged the original one because of screen flicker. Two replacements later, the screen on the third one flickers, too, and turning a page results in a momentary refreshing of the screen, which is beyond annoying. I can only conclude that the flickering and blurring are design flaws. Get over it, some Amazon reviewers advise. I can’t.

Still, there are some good reasons to get a Kindle. You’ll get weeks of reading on a single charge. The screen is readable in broad daylight — there’s no glare. Oddly, Amazon includes a charging cable but no power adapter. I used my iPhone power adapter, and it charged just fine. Amazon charges an extra $20 for its power adapter. Good grief.

If you can live with those shortcomings, knock yourself out. But there is a better way.

It’s called the Apple iPad Mini, which has a bigger (7.9-inch) screen, and is much more versatile. Unlike the Kindle, you can use the Mini, which weighs a few ounces more, as a mini computer. You can use the internet, read without screen flickering, and when you turn a page in a book, there is no blurring. And it comes with a charging adapter.

For a recent trip abroad, I brought my Mini 4, which cost $309 from Apple’s refurbished store. (A new basic Mini cost $400. The refurbished model I bought comes with the same one-year warranty as the new one.) For a few dollars more, you can get cellular connectivity.

With the Mini hooked up to a Wi-Fi network, I was able to do Facetime with my grandkids 8,000 miles away.

I made a hotel reservation, used dozens of free apps, including Pages, which helped me write notes on my trip. And it has a great camera. But while you can read it in all kinds of light indoors, you can’t read it outdoors except at night.

Maybe I’m comparing Apple to oranges, but if you have an extra $200 to spend, and need its versatility, the Mini wins, hands-down. But if all you do is read — indoors or out, the Kindle Paperwhite will work for you just fine.

— Harold Glicken is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at harold.glicken@helpware-online.com and his columns can be found at www.helpware-online.com

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