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Amazon: Please make the text darker on Kindle 2!


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Showing 1-25 of 1115 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 1, 2009 10:33:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 29, 2009 12:58:04 PM PDT
BMK says:
Kindle 2 is capable of producing darker text than the default setting, which is light, thin, and difficult to read for many people. Customer Service has reportedly told at least one person that the standard text could have been a darker shade of gray/black than the one that was chosen. If you would like Amazon to provide a software update to darken the regular book text (or provide a user-selectable option to do so), please post here with your opinion.

It seems that there are a growing number of people that are deciding to return their Kindle 2 because the text is too light compared to their expectations or to their Kindle 1. This isn't good, obviously, for either Amazon or their customers. I love the Kindle 2, and I want to keep it, but it is hard to justify when the text is so light on a relatively dark background.

I would also suggest that you email feedback on this issue to:

kindle2-feedback@amazon.com

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UPDATE (3-28-09):
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. If you are unsatisfied with the text on Kindle 2, I hope you will continue posting your concerns in a civil and constructive manner. What follows is essentially my (very lengthy) parting shot on this issue.

I ultimately decided to return both of my Kindle 2's (each was defective---for reasons other than the contrast), and I did not ask for a replacement. If Amazon had made a statement announcing their intention to resolve the contrast issue by darkening the text, I would have made a different decision; but, at the risk of sounding trite, their silence was deafening.

Out of curiosity, I recently decided to visit a local store that had a competing digital reader on display. I had no intention of buying it because it didn't have wireless, the selection of books was limited, and---to be honest---I had become strangely loyal to Amazon and the Kindle despite the defective units they had sent me. But I did want to see another E-Ink display to compare to the Kindle's. I was immediately impressed by the quality of this other device (for those of you wondering, it is the lower-priced model of the two devices they offer). It looked---in my opinion---much nicer than the Kindle, it was better built (aluminum rather than plastic), it was smaller (just about the perfect size), the menu navigation was faster and easier to use, the font was better (it looks like a regular book font), and the screen contrast WAS better. (The background looked slightly lighter and the text was slightly darker and much more consistent. The screen also has a difficult to describe---almost shimmery---appearance that makes it look of better quality, although it only displays 8 shades of gray. By comparison, it makes the Kindle 2 screen look drab and lifeless.)

I decided to buy this device, bring it home, and compare it to the two Kindle 2's I had not yet returned. It was easy to see the difference in the contrast among the screens. (I should note, however, that other people in this forum have suggested that they cannot see a difference in contrast between this device and the Kindle. You should judge for yourself.)

So now for the downside---this device is missing some very useful capabilities. As I said before, there is no wireless, which is critical to some people. There is no text annotation, no in-line dictionary, no free samples of books from the Kindle store (obviously), and there is a more limited selection of contemporary books available. For some people, these capabilities understandably make the Kindle indispensable.

But here was the deciding factor for ME: it provides a significantly better reading experience, which is after all, what I use it for. I do miss some of the capabilities I mentioned above, but I love reading on this device. I could never get comfortable reading on the Kindle because of the light and inconsistently rendered text---it was a constant distraction. I would still be willing to buy another Kindle 2 if they ultimately fix the text; the Kindle really is an incredibly capable device. But for me, it doesn't do the one thing that is most important---provide a satisfying reading experience. For those of you that are unsatisfied with the Kindle 2, I suggest you make a trip to your local electronics, book, or department store and check out the competition. You may find that it is a better solution for you.

Finally, I would like to say that Amazon customer service has treated me very well, with the notable exception of their aloof and somewhat condescending responses to my concerns about the text.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 11:23:56 AM PST
R. Ostrom says:
YES, please please change permanently or provide a settings option for darkest possible characters.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 11:35:23 AM PST
B. P. Page says:
Hopefully Amazon understands that this is a deal breaker for many K1 users. Unless a software patch will darken the text (and make it more like the K1) I will be returning my Kindle 2.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 11:53:56 AM PST
Nobody says:
I've posted this elsewhere, but I'll repeat myself: Use a cool colored light bulb (full spectrum light, not a warmer color) when reading. It makes a world of difference. It's also helpful to increase the size of the text.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 11:55:36 AM PST
Gate says:
Absolutely agree! I was just about to start my own discussion on this as i am extremely disappointed. It is uncomfortable to read and it almost looks like my text is very poor quality compared to my Kindle 1. I am thinking about returning mine but unfortunately I sold my Kindle 1!

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 11:58:31 AM PST
noise says:
@Nobody

I can read the smallest font on the Kindle 1 for hours at a time without eye fatigue. Why should I have to seek out a different light source or use a bigger font to avoid eye fatigue from the Kindle 2?

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 11:59:51 AM PST
Nobody says:
Only reason I can think of is to see it.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 12:02:45 PM PST
SeaLevel274 says:
I would rather have an option to choose the shade of the background. I believe the text would appear darker if I could select a lighter background.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 12:05:19 PM PST
noise says:
I've written to CS a couple of times on this topic. Here's their response:

"Thank you for your feedback on the Kindle 2's font and display. When comparing the Kindle 1 to Kindle 2 you may notice there are variations in contrast. This is due to several reasons: The newest generation now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text. The variance may contribute to the lighter colored text you are mentioning."

Unfortunately it misses the point. I'm well aware that Kindle 2 "boasts 16 shades of gray," and it does make pictures look nicer. However, it is clearly NOT contributing to "clear text." There seem to be two problems at work here. One, the "base" font color is not the darkest shade of grey. Two, the use of anti-aliasing/font smoothing further reduces the contrast between the font and the screen. Think about an old dot matrix print out. It might be ugly, but it's easy to read - the paper is one color and the text is another. Now think about a low resolution photograph of a page of text - it's blurry and lacks contrast. That's how it feels to me to read on the Kindle 2. I feel like I am trying to read pages of text that someone captured with a camera phone, when it would be much easier to read a dot matrix printout.

Amazon, please PLEASE

1. give us the option to render plain text in the darkest setting.
2. let us turn off antialising/smoothing on that plain text font.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 12:13:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2009 12:13:57 PM PST
R. Ostrom says:
>Why should I have to seek out a different light source or use a bigger font to avoid eye fatigue from the Kindle 2?<

Yes! why? In a given light environment, my K1 is more readable than K2 in the same environment.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 12:35:57 PM PST
Amazon Fan says:
My K2 went back 2 days after I rec'd for that very reason. K1 is definitely much more readable in the ANY light. The K2 text is just too "whimpy" plus it seemed almost blurry to me. I was so bummed! I look forward to K3 taking the best features from both K1 and K2 and combining them!!

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 12:54:56 PM PST
How odd for a second generation reader to be LESS readable than the first. I already had to change my light bulbs, it feels like I'm reading under interrogation.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 1:04:55 PM PST
TGil_Atlanta says:
I posted similar feedback here a couple of days ago. In my opinion, the K2 looks very similar to my old Palm Pilot from the late 90's...dark grey monochrome text on a slightly lighter dark grey/beige background. It's my first experience with e-ink, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was considerably disappointed. Looks like 10 year old technology...and not having the ability to user-select contrast or grey-scale is a significant design flaw. I haven't been able to read on the K2 for very long without squinting.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 1:09:03 PM PST
noise says:
Amazon:

Please note that many of us in this thread (and raising similar issues elsewhere in the K2 forums) have and love using our K1s. We aren't complaining about a "lack of backlight" here - we are deeply concerned that the readability of text on the K2 display is noticeably worse than the K1.

I really want to love my K2 as much as I love my K1 - but without changes to the way that the default font is rendered, that doesn't appear likely.

Thanks.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 1:14:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2009 1:20:54 PM PST
Woody says:
While I have no trouble reading the smallest text on my Kindle 2, the text is definitely lighter than on my K1. If this is an option that can be changed in software, then I hope Amazon does so. Indeed, I just sent feedback to Amazon about this.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 1:14:48 PM PST
TGil_Atlanta says:
Question on e-ink? I believe the Sony PRS e-book reader also uses the same...if you've seen that device, is the contrast better (i.e., easier to view) than the K2?

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 1:27:42 PM PST
Presbyter1 says:
Amazon,

I would also like to add that my Kindle 2 produces an observably darker text after I used a forced screen refresh (Alt-G). Others on this forum have also confirmed this. I would like the "standard" text to always look at least as dark as it does after a forced screen refresh. If you can make the menus dark and bold can't you make the standard reading text darker as well?

Thanks.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 2:01:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2009 4:09:31 PM PST
Lorene says:
It was a joy to read on the K1 and and I am so disappointed with this new Kindle. In order to actually see the text, I've had to adjust the font size and the line spacing which means I will have to turn pages much more often. This means the battery and that "clicking" button will wear out much quicker, if I continue to struggle with this Kindle. I will address the button issue in another post.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 2:12:50 PM PST
WALSTIB says:
Either darken the text or slightly lighten the background. As the screen is, it is unacceptable.

@nobody, sorry but I don't think I should have to change out my lighting to compensate for a poor screen. Especially for a 360$ product which will continue to make money for Amazon years into the future.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 2:25:46 PM PST
Gate says:
I completely agree with Walstib. We should be making these points on the product reviews so that other K1 users know this is an issue before they buy a K2. I wish I had that heads-up!

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 3:57:32 PM PST
noise says:
Has anyone else contacted CS yet? Please paste any responses here. I think it's a good idea to write reviews, but also we need to make sure that Amazon CS gets feedback from as many of us as possible.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 4:13:12 PM PST
Lorene says:
What good is a reader if we have trouble seeing the text? I couldn't care less about nice pictures.... I have magazines and TV for that. Is there a fix for this dark gray background somewhere in our future?

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 4:22:38 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 1, 2009 11:11:03 PM PST]

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 4:29:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2009 4:30:32 PM PST
noise says:
@ReadnSwim

No offense intended: I don't have bad vision. I have very good vision. And, reading books on the K1 is very easy on my eyes. Reading the same books on the K2, with the same font size in the same place with the same lighting makes me have to squint/hurts my eyes after a few minutes.

It's reasonably well documented by now that Amazon isn't rendering standard text on the K2 in the blackest color but is instead using a lighter shade and also using some kind of font smoothing/anti-aliasing that makes the characters noticeably whispier than the K1 font. I'm not "looking for something to find fault with," I am unahppy that the K2 (that I was looking forward to for a very long time) hurts my eyes to read when my K1 does not.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 4:37:55 PM PST
T. Strong says:
I was (note the "was") a Kindle 1 owner, and noted the darker gray, lighter text of the Kindle 2 immediately. Unfortunately, I sold my K1 before receiving K2. I did email Kindle CS and Kindle feedback, and received the same response about the 16 shades of gray, blah blah blah... I also have significant screen burn-in and have to use Alt+G every time I take it off of sleep mode.

However, the button placement and 5 way controller are vast improvements to me, so I guess I will learn to live with the darker gray screen? I wish I did not have have to, but until there is some acknowledgement of an issue from Amazon, I will happily read on my Kindle 2.
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Initial post:  Mar 1, 2009
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