Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Fire for 10yo boy
July 6, 2014 5:46 PM   Subscribe

My son has asked for a Kindle "with a boy cover" for his birthday. I anticipate that he'd be mainly using it to read in bed, but wonder what I'm missing by dismissing the Kindle Fire out of hand. He has access to the much in demand family IPad, so he's not tablet free. I am a huge, huge fan of my Paperwhite, and don't know much about the Fire. So, any comparisons? Any neat points about the Fire?

Here's the list I put togehter:

Pros of Paperwhite
- Backlight means awesome for reading oneself to sleep
- Single purpose means no distractions for reading (and no worries about leaving it with him unmonitored)

Cons of Paperwhite
- Limiting - It only does one thing, awesomely
- Collateral expense of purchasing books and or time of finding freebies

Pros of Kindle Fire
- games, ability to facetime?
- what else?

Cons of Kindle Fire
- some reservations about giving it to kid at bedtime as it might keep him up
- costrs about 20 dollars more than the paperwhite
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons to Shopping (21 answers total)
FWIW, I don't necessarily know that limiting stimulation where you have a clear opportunity to do so is a bad thing. I'm 24 and so I grew up with maybe only 50-60% of the amount of non-productive screen time kids today seem to get, and my attention span is utter crap. I hate it. Trust me when I say that a few hours on the family iPad a day is more than enough. Kids today need, more urgently than ever, to learn to love the simple pleasure of reading for its own sake, not just because it's one of a million things you can do on a full tablet. Save your twenty bucks, and your kid's future brain, and stick with the Paperwhite.
posted by marsbar77 at 5:56 PM on July 6, 2014 [19 favorites]

I honestly think the screen-light issue is reason enough. I have both Kindle keyboard and iPad, and while I'm prone to taking the iPad to bed to read because I get more screen real estate, I sleep better when I use the Kindle.

I think it's worth it to teach a culture of gearing down for bed and reading for pleasure. Plus all your other pros.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:59 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would also stick with the Paperwhite, for the reasons above. I'll also note that most public libraries have a wide selection of ebooks available for (free, obviously) borrowing, and it's a fast and super easy process.
posted by brainmouse at 6:01 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

A few bits of information that may be helpful:

- Facetime is Apple software, so it is not available on the Kindle Fire.

- There is a web browser on the Kindle Paperwhite so your son would be able to be online if he has access to a wifi signal.

- Many libraries have free kindle books that can be borrowed online. You may want to check your local library to see if it's available where you live.

I have both a Kindle Paperwhite and an iPad. I love the Kindle and I read more with it than with the iPad because it's (mostly) distraction free.

Hope that helps!
posted by kdern at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2014

One con on the side of the Kindle Fire: you will have to be careful about making sure that in app purchases are locked down; otherwise, your kid could rack up hundreds of dollars in charges without realizing it. A lot of the free to play games are very manipulative for that age range in trying to get them to purchase in app items.

The FTC is currently busy trying to fine Amazon for practices in this area--you can see reports down in the comments talking about how updates can reset the IAP parental settings.
posted by foxfirefey at 6:16 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Interesting! Thanks everyone. I will go with my gut and get the paperwhite.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 6:21 PM on July 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would find out what a "Kindle" means to him — does he want a thing like his mom has, or does he have friends who have Kindle Fires and want that thing? If he's not actually asking for a color tablet that'll play games and whatnot, then yes, I'd go Paperwhite. Better readability, much longer battery life, kinder on the eyes, and a heck of a lot lighter for reading in bed... I'm not sure I've held the latest Kindle Fire, but the one I have held felt like a brick.
posted by mumkin at 6:26 PM on July 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

I have a Kindle Fire that was a gift, and honestly I'd have preferred the Paperwhite.

It's styled as more of a tablet, but IME the OS is poorly designed and it's not terribly practical for tablet type uses. That said, it'll play YouTube videos and you can probably put candy crush on it if you want. If he's asking for a Kindle because friends have them and use them as tablets, I'm sure he'll be happy with it.

The tablet functions are a poor tradeoff for the short battery life, in my opinion.

Nthing that he will not be able to "facetime" on it, though there may be a Skype app.

It also strikes me that all of the above are 30-year-old thoughts, and if a Kindle Fire is the hot new toy among his friends, a Kindle Fire is what you should get him. Nobody wants to be the kid whose mom doesn't understand the hot new toy.
posted by Sara C. at 6:42 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Part of me wants to say get-him-a-Nexus, because I think it might offer more chance for experimentation and learning about technology (though, as somebody who owns an iPad and regularly helps people with e-reader issues, it is not lost on me that a dedicated device offers a better reading experience than a tablet), but I think that asking more about what he has in mind is the better advice.
posted by box at 6:56 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently put this same question to my 11 year old. She chose the fire because she loves to watch youtube minecraft tutorials. With the fire, she can read or watch the tutorials so she feels that she would get more use out of it than just something that she can read on.
posted by myselfasme at 7:23 PM on July 6, 2014

I routinely choose to read on my old Kindle DX instead of on my laptop simply because the *only* thing I can do on my Kindle is read. For someone who has ADD, that built-in restriction is a feature, not a bug.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:42 PM on July 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

The paperwhite is very elegant; the fire is clunkier. It's not nearly as pleasant to read on, and while it's fine as a tablet, it isn't as responsive or precise as iPads or Samsungs.

The paperwhite is a fantastic e-reader; the fire is an only-okay e-reader and tablet.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:44 PM on July 6, 2014

I like the paperwhite for this-- its internet functionality is as limited as you want, so you can manage his screen time for internet stuff.

Paperwhite has two major advantages: first, it's an e-ink device, which means that its backlight is good for reading in the dark, but it's aces when reading in bright light such as outdoor reading. Second, because it's an e-ink device, its power usage is a tiny fraction of the Fire, which will burn through its battery in a few hours of usage, especially if it's playing video or has the screen brightness turned up because he's using it outdoors.

Road-tripping, taking flights, camping, any time he's away from a power source for an extended period, the Paperwhite's going to last, especially if he turns off the wifi radio when he knows he'll be away from wifi for an extended period of time.

It's also lightweight and relatively cheap. Get a durable cover, and be sure to give your kid the brief on your (not amazon's, though that's also worth knowing) repair/replacement policy in addition to the rules of use for your house. Make sure you're also familiar with the procedure for emailing documents to the Kindle to load it into memory. It's very handy come school time.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:49 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I anticipate that he'd be mainly using it to read in bed

Why not ask him how he plans to use it. If he's been admiring his friends Fire and you show up with a Paperwhite, he's going to be disappointed.

I have a Fire. Have used it every single night before bed since 2011. I read a lot of online academic journals by connecting through my school library. Fire is great for that since I can browse to them and not download. FWIW, I sleep just fine thanks.
posted by 26.2 at 9:16 PM on July 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have a Fire and have gone back to reading actual books over ebooks because my eyes have gone wonky. If
it comes yup again I'll get a paperwhite.
posted by janey47 at 9:52 PM on July 6, 2014

I'd ask him. Getting the not-quite-right thing for your birthday at that age is grim. Not only a big disappointment: it bars you from ever getting what your heart was actually set on.
posted by Segundus at 11:13 PM on July 6, 2014

The Fire has great parental controls via FreeTime app, you can set time and usage limits on video/apps/reading/browsing/etc. There is also a subscription which gives you a lot of kids content.

I think it depends on what your son's intended use is.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:15 PM on July 6, 2014

Came in to say the parental controls on the fire are great. Not only can you set controls on time, you can also put only certain apps and books onto FreeTime. This means you can share one Kindle account but limit him from reading your books. And while the interface may not be great, for most kids it's enough. My 11 year old adores his.
posted by Sukey Says at 4:33 AM on July 7, 2014

Thanks, especially to the people who pointed out what should have been obvious - check with the son to see what he wants. All the answers were helpful.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 6:19 AM on July 7, 2014

"with a boy cover"

Perhaps consider getting him two covers - one is just a cover to protect the kindle temporarily (or lend him the cover from yours), while the other is going to be HIS cover - a cover bought for the purpose of being modified and decorated and decked out by him as he sees fit. Maybe it comes with a trip to the craft store, or whatever suits the method of customization (stickers!) he decides to use to make it his?
posted by anonymisc at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2014

Go with the Paperwhite if he's at all a reader - or you intend for him to be. Much, much easier on the eyes than the tablet screen. My 12yo girl and 14yo boy are addicted to theirs - they each have one - and are reading much more than they would be with yet another tablet in the house.

I've noticed a huge difference in their (and my) ability to fall asleep after reading at bedtime between the Paperwhites and previously with tablets - and less headaches, for me.

Cover recommendation is these - the orange was my son's choice. They're sturdy, inexpensive, come in lots of color options, have magnet closures, and stay on well. We've had three of them on Paperwhites for three months now with heavy daily use, toting around in backpacks and purses, and they all still look brand-new.
posted by stormyteal at 9:46 PM on July 7, 2014

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