Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Kindle Paperwhite Case

My Portenzo HardBack Cover for my Kindle Paperwhite has continued to show wear and tear must faster than I ever would have expected it to. I'm really shocked by how poorly it's held up and I'm very disappointed that I wasted money on it.  But the good news is that I ordered a new case from China, and it looks great and works much better than the Portenzo ever did (and it's holding up great too).

A user on a Reddit discussion about Kindle cases pointed to a case on a website called AliExpress.  In my opinion, the case was ugly. But I looked for more Kindle Paperwhite cases on the site and found this:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Ultra-slim-PU-Leather-Paperwhite-Case-pouch-cover-jacket-for-Kindle-Paperwhite-6-inch-Smart-cover/856650061.html

It comes in a large variety of colors, is incredibly thin and light, and it looks nice. I bought one in brown, and waited 15 days for it to be shipped from China, to LA, to Iowa. None of my problems with the Portenzo case are present in the Chinese case. The Kindle snaps into it instead of attaching with adhesive strips, the material is resistance to scratches and scuffs, and they didn't charge an extra $10 for a magnet that could keep the cover closed so it doesn't need  strap. If you're in the market for a Kindle Paperwhite case, I'd recommend taking a look.

Oh, and if you've ever considered buying somthing from AliExpress.com but were worried it might be a scam, I had a pleasant experience with them.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Portenzo HardBack Cover for Kindle Paperwhite

A few months ago my dog ate my Kindle Paperwhite. The device itself was fine, but the official Amazon leather case protecting it was all chewed up. I trimmed off the jagged edges and kept using it until last week when I decided to replace it with a Portenzo HardBack cover.

Appearance:
Portenzo lets you customize your colors and choose between using hidden magnets, a strap, or both to keep the cover closed. The hidden magnets add an extra $10 to the price, so I opted for the strap.  One good piece of information that wasn't made readily available is that the auto-sleep/wake function works with or without paying for the hidden magnets. The cover looks GOOD; much more like a real book than the official Amazon leather case does. And while the strap is a little slower to remove and replace then the cover would be with magnets instead, it does add a nice bit of contrast to the otherwise blank surface.

Comfort/Usability:
I knew before ordering that the Portenzo case's cover does not lie flat against its back when open (unlike the Amazon leather case that folds back flat). Instead the spine forms the short side of an isosceles triangle when the cover is folded back. I initially thought this might make the Kindle even more pleasant to hold, reminding me of the wedge shape of the first generation Kindle. In practice I find the added thickness unpleasant, and also occasionally frustrating when I forget to stretch my thumb further across the surface before touching for a page turn, and accidentally turn back a page.

Durability:
While I haven't specifically tried to do so, the Portenzo cover seems like it would not scratch or scuff easily. The re-usable adhesive strips that hold the Kindle in place seem to work well.

One problem I've encountered is glue smell. I left my Kindle in a hot car for an hour or two one day, and since then the Portenzo cover has had a strong smell of glue. You wouldn't notice it (without bringing it near to your face) if not for the fact that the glue smell has transferred to my hands on a number of occasions after reading for a while. Since this happened I've also noticed a white line showing up along some of the edges where the inner liner has been (presumably) glued to the outer.

I contacted Portenzo about the smell and what appears to be glue that seeped out in the heat and they asked me to send them a photo of the seepage. Portenzo said they couldn't see anything wrong in the photo and gave me an address to send my cover to to be checked out for possible "repair".  I like Portenzo's design style, and I want to root for the little guy; but Amazon would have sent me a brand new cover if I had a problem with one of theirs and given me a few weeks to send the damaged one back.  I understand it's not a good idea to leave anything in a hot car, but my Amazon case and my Kindle itself (as well as plain old bound books) have survived plenty a day in the heat without any negative side effects.

As of the time this post was written, the abbreviated version of this review has yet to be approved to be included amongst the glowing reviews listed on the Portenzo product page.

UPDATE: I've since noticed that the pressure placed on the Kindle when the cover is closed with the strap actually causes it to come free from most of the adhesive strips.  If the spine were a little narrower this wouldn't be a problem. The Kindle hasn't fallen out upon opening yet, but it's really disappointing to see another area where the Portenzo case has let me down.

Conclusion:
Before the update above, I had previously written that "The Portenzo Hardback Cover for the Kindle Paperwhite is a decent value for the price".  But now I really question its quality as well as the reliability of the reviews posted on the sales page. How many other negative reviews were simply not posted? I still love the way the Portenzo case looks. However, even ignoring the added thickness when folding the cover back behind, the fact that you have to baby this case to stop it from seeping glue, and its design flaws that stop the Kindle from even staying securely attached.... combined they make this a DO NOT BUY.


Monday, May 20, 2013

[VIDEO GAME REVIEW] Mirror's Edge


I started and finished playing DICE’s Mirror’s Edge this weekend. It was fun, but also very frustrating at times. However, unlike games that frustrate me into quitting, Mirror’s Edge frustrated me into trying again, and again, and again. The story is too light, which I don’t feel has anything to do with how short the game is. A short game can have a super-deep story, and a long game can still have a wimpy plot.
The graphics are very nice, not just for a 2008 game but even compared to modern games. The clean, bright, colorful environments are a nice break from the mottled browns of your usual first-person action game. That’s why I was shocked when I saw my first cut scene. The story interludes look like a bad flash animation.  The facial expressions and detail of the characters when actually rendered in game by the 3D engine look much better than the flat animations. I have no idea why they went with that decision.
I got Mirror’s Edge for next to nothing on a Steam sale a while back, and I feel I got my money’s worth out of it.  Right now it’s selling for $20, which I feel might be a little high considering its anemic plot and short run time. $15 would be a good price for Mirror’s Edge, which explains why a lot of the reviews from when it came out fo $50 in 2008/2009 complain so much. If you can get it cheap, and enjoy a good try-die-repeat action game with a focus on speedy navigation instead of guns, I recommend Mirror’s Edge.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trying Out Blogger Again

A number of years ago I migrated my personal web log from Blogger to Wordpress. At the time, Blogger was a cluttered, outdated mess and Wordpress was a clean, simple haven of publishing goodness. Now, while the tables haven't completed turned, Blogger has certainly done a lot in the "catching up" department.

Blogger's new interface is much cleaner and more straightforward, and its templates are much easier on the eyes than they used to be. But more importantly to me, Blogger is integrated with Google+.  I rarely blog anymore, because everything I want to share is done so through Twitter or Google+.

So I'm trying out Blogger once again.  I won't make this one of those "I'm going to blog more often now" posts, as I've seen far too many of those as the most recent post on all but dormant blogs. But if this extra level of convenience does cause me to write a little more often, I won't complain.