E-readers generally have excellent battery life, thanks to efficient e-ink displays that only consumer power when they're refreshed. Backlit readers sacrifice some battery life to improve readability in low light, but they're still pretty impressive. Amazon's claims of week-long battery life for the Kindle Paperwhite, though, have come under fire from consumer advocate group Choice, which took umbrage at the fact that Amazon's measurements come with the caveat that readers use the device for only half an hour a day.
The $179 Kindle Paperwhite and $249 Kindle Paperwhite 3G were the target for one of Choice Australia's only two tech-focused Shonky Awards, announced today — the other was the Thermomix. This is what Choice had to say about the Kindle's Shonky Award:
One of Amazon’s biggest selling points for its new Kindle’s Paperwhite e-reader is that it can last an impressive eight weeks. But don’t judge a book by its cover – this marketing spin is almost as creative as an Enron financial audit. The fine print reveals that the eight weeks of juice relies on the Kindle Paperwhite being used for 30 minutes a day. That means the Kindle’s battery life is actually 28 hours — typical for many e-readers. CHOICE has referred Amazon Kindle to the ACCC.
The difference between 28 hours and eight weeks is particularly egregious, but that's not the be all and end all of the story. Rating the life of an e-reader is an especially difficult ask; how do you decide how often to turn the page of a book, how bright should the backlight be? Eight weeks of use at half an hour a day is almost a more rational unit of measurement than 28 hours of non-stop, brain-melting, eye-bleeding reading.
The award itself isn't just for that eight week figure; it's for the fact that Amazon compares the battery life to a laptop, tablet and smartphone, each running continuously while the e-reader gets away with limited daily use. Choice does balance out the harsh judgment of the Paperwhite's battery life by saying that it is one of the organisation's favourite e-readers, rating at the top of its last round of comparative testing.
While on the face of it Choice's claims are spot on — the Kindle Paperwhite's battery life is not eight weeks, that's for sure — this isn't too different to the selective practices of almost every smartphone, tablet, e-reader or laptop out there. We're not exactly sure why the Kindle rated a specific mention, but let this serve as an over-arching reminder to not take any mobile device's battery life claims at face value. [CHOICE]