Amazon’s latest Kindle is a supersized e-reader that wants to replace not only the printed book but the paper itself, offering reading and on-screen writing with the included stylus.
The Scribe costs from £330 ($340) and is the firm’s largest and most expensive model yet with a 10.2in screen, dwarfing the 7in Oasis and 6.8in Paperwhite.
It has the same E-ink paper-like screen technology as its smaller siblings, which is sharper than its rivals, and an LED front light that automatically adjusts brightness and color tone to suit the time of day, making it readable in any light.
The touchscreen feels smooth like silk, rather than traditional glass, and is as responsive as a phone to your taps and swipes. The 5.8mm-thick recycled aluminum body feels slim, solid and premium. There are little rubber feet in the corners, which keep it from sliding around on a table.
One side of the screen has larger bezels that make for a good handle. The display automatically rotates so you can hold it either way but it lacks the page-turn buttons of the Oasis, so you must swipe or tap instead. The included stylus clips to the thin side of the Scribe with strong magnets for storage.
The reading experience is similar to other recent Kindles. It has access to a vast ebook and audiobook library, each of which can be bought on the device or from the Amazon site. It syncs via wifi, downloads text, graphic and audiobooks to its internal storage and keeps itself updated.
Otherwise, the supersized screen fits a lot of book on the screen at once. I can hold the Scribe with one hand but its size and 433g weight – more than twice that of the Paperwhite – make it more of a couch reader where it is rested on various body parts or furniture like a large book. It is genuinely a delightful reading experience that allows the book to shine.
The large screen improves the reading experience for comics and graphic novels available from the recently merged Kindle and Comixology stores, but it’s not as good as an iPad. Comics don’t fill the screen properly and a lack of color means only monochrome books are fully legible but I enjoyed reading some original Judge Dredd comics in black and white.
The writing experience on the Scribe is shockingly good. The surface of the screen actually feels like paper as the tip of the pen-like stylus glides across it, providing the right amount of friction unlike the glass of a tablet or phone.
You can annotate books with either typed or handwritten sticky notes. Documents sent to the Scribe via the Kindle app or website can be marked up, either directly on the page for PDFs or via sticky notes for other file types.
Finally, the notebooks feature essentially replaces the paper journal. You can have as many notebooks as you like and arrange them in folders. There are 18 different templates from which to choose, including blank and line pages, grids, check-box to-do lists, schedules and calendars, and even sheet music.
As a simple replacement for paper, the Scribe is great, but it lacks the advanced features offered by other devices. There’s no handwriting recognition to turn it into text. You can only view but not edit or otherwise use the notebooks via the Kindle app on Android, iPhone or iPad. Notebooks aren’t available on the web or desktop Kindle apps either. You can export your scribbles as a pdf by emailing it to yourself from the Scribe but you can’t sync it with any other note-taking app or service such as Evernote.
Documents sent to the Scribe for markup are treated like books and so end up cluttering your reading library, not grouped in with your notebooks. The Scribe has so much potential as a paper replacement but everything other than the actual writing experience is terribly basic.
Screen: 10.2in Paperwhite with color adjustable frontlight (300ppi)
Dimensions: 196 x 229 x 5.8 mm
water resistance: none
Connectivity: wifi, Bluetooth, USB-C
Storage: 8 or 32 GB
Rated battery life: 12 weeks of reading 30 minutes a day
Native format support: Kindle (AZW/AZW3), TXT, pdf, unprotected MOBI, PRC, Audible (AAX)
The Scribe will receive software and security updates for at least four years after it is last available new from Amazon. The company does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery but it should last in excess of 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. Access to first-party repair options varies by country. The device contains 100% recycled aluminum and 48% recycled plastic.
The company offers trade-in and recycling schemes and publishes information on its various sustainability efforts.
The Amazon Kindle Scribe costs from £329.99 ($339.99) with 16GB of storage and the basic pen – the premium pen costs an extra £30 ($30). The 32GB and 64GB versions come with the premium pen.
For comparison, the basic Kindle costs £84.99, the Paperwhite £104.99, the Oasis £194.99, the ReMarkable 2 £358 with pen and the Kobo Elipsa £349.99.
The Scribe is the supersized Kindle many may have been waiting for. There’s no doubt the big high-quality screen, long battery life, huge ebook library and premium build are compelling for couch reading and beat the 10in-plus competition.
Whether you’re seeking jumbo text or just to fit lots of your book on screen, size really does matter. Otherwise the reading experience mirrors other Kindles – average for comics because of the grayscale-only screen but great for regular books if you cede all control to Amazon and don’t want to buy your content elsewhere.
The feel of the on-screen writing is tremendous, but it lacks the modern features needed to improve on a paper notebook. There’s no handwriting recognition, no syncing to other services, nothing other than reading on the mobile Kindle apps and exporting via pdf is email only. It’s all very basic.
While it is priced the same as its big-screen E-ink rivals and an iPad, it is not a general-purpose tablet. It has a web browser but it can’t load the Guardian site, for instance.
The Scribe is a great, giant-sized premium e-reader. But its enormous potential as a digital writing device has yet to be realized.
Pros: Giant screen, very long battery life, auto-brightness and color frontlight, recycled aluminum, fantastic writing feel, magnetically attached stylus included.
Cons: expensive, writing experience is basic, no handwriting recognition, no useful syncing of notebooks or compatibility with third-party services, case not included.