I’m a big fan of reading on the Kindle 4. Since getting it a couple of months ago it has revolutionized my reading habits. For the first time a as long as I can remember I am actually reading again, both books and articles. With the recent additions to Instapaper’s kindle integration this has gotten even more engrained.
The only area that I have found it lacking compared with reading on an iPhone/iPad is that you cannot read it in low light conditions. In every other way it is superior: it provides less opportunity for distraction, it is easier on my eyes, its battery lasts forever, it is incredibly cheap. There are two contexts where I want to read in the dark, in bed before going to sleep and while rocking my newborn daughter to sleep. In both of these circumstances I want a reading light that meets two criteria:
- It doesn’t disturb those around me with excessive light leakage.
- It provides enough light to comfortably read, but no more.
With that in mind I bought a couple of the currently available options. Kindle lights come as either clip-on lights or integrated with another case. The clip-on lights are typically much cheaper so I got two of the best looking ones of those, and then the official Amazon case-style one.
Left-to-Right — Verso Clip-On : Amazon Lighted Cover : LightWedge Flex Neck
- Verso Clip-On: $20. Powered by two CR2032 batteries.
- Amazon Lighted Cover: $60. Powered by the Kindle’s battery.
- LightWedge Clip-On: $15. Powered by two CR2032 batteries.
After playing with these for a few nights there was a clear winner, it wasn’t even close. The official Amazon Lighted Cover is dramatically better than either of the clip on ones. Even at 3X the price it is well worth the difference. The quality of the light it generates is gorgeous. It provides soft but clear light without any glare. The light also doesn’t leak out beyond the Kindle’s screen, so it won’t bother my wife or daughter. The fact that it also is a protective case is nice, but for my use isn’t particularly relevant.
The clip-on lights were way too bright, illuminating the entire room. They also had a harsh glare that was only avoidable by positioning the light at and very odd angle. [Note: The picture above was taken with exactly the same manual settings, f/8 at 1/6 sec, so relative brightness should be accurate]
The integrated doesn’t appear to drain the battery by a noticeable degree. I’m sure it is reducing the battery life of my Kindle, but it doesn’t appear to do it in a way that will impact day-to-day use. The added convenience of not having other batteries or chargers to worry about firmly secures its place as superior.
Bottom Line: It might seem a bit crazy to spend $60 to provide light for an $80 device, but it is probably better to think of it as paying $140 for the perfect device for long form reading, period.