One of the things that I love about the Kindle – its eInk screen – is also one of the things that makes using the Kindle a bit difficult when lighting is poor. It seems silly in a way to complain about not being able to read a book in the dark, because it certainly isn’t something anyone could do with the dead tree version, but there are a couple of reasons I think it chafes more than expected when people read from non-backlit devices.
I think many who use eReaders have also experienced reading on other mobile devices, which generally use color-capable LCD screens and are easy to read from in even the worst light. It seems only natural then, that when we pick up an electronic device meant to read books from – that it should also be in color, or at the very least backlit. But of course, they aren’t.
I’ve just received a brand new Case-Mate Kindle2 cover which not only wraps the eReader in a fine leather hardback cover, it also has an amazing integrated lighting system. The Case-Mate Enlighten won’t be available until mid-December, but I wanted to go ahead and give my impressions on this most remarkable wrap.
From the exterior, the Enlighten Case looks like a beautiful leather journal, albeit a stiff rather than floppy one. The rigid black leather is lightly textured, and the tab closure system is absolutely perfect – no snaps, no magnets, no ties – just a simple tab. The spine of the cover resembles that of a fine book. It looks like there is an area where initials could be embossed or an engraved plaque placed. The cover might seem a bit stiff at first, but it is pleasantly reminiscent of a leather bound hardback.
Opening the case reveals the gray suede lined interior, with an approximately 5″ long x 1.5″ tall slash pocket on the left. Obviously you aren’t going to be carrying your reading glasses in there or anything, but you could slip things like bills or receipts that you need to keep near. I never seem to use the pockets in my Kindle cases, and yet many manufacturers place them there; I guess some people must be using them!
Of course, the item most worth pointing out is the black bar which runs down the spine of the case; this holds the clear panel with integrated LED light over the Kindle2’s screen.
Perhaps most exciting is the fact that the case uses the Kindle2’s own clipping system, so there is no need for elastic or Velcro to keep the device secure.
You’ll notice that there is a black bar which will lay directly over the Kindle’s left side, preventing you from accessing the Previous and Next Page buttons. You’ll still have access to the Next Page button on the right edge of the Kindle, but that you can easily go back a page, the Case-Mate includes an integrated Previous Page button that presses the Kindle’s own button when needed.
The clear panel puts out a fairly bright light, even when on the lower setting.
The clear panel is perfectly positioned to fit the Kindle2’s screen once the device is secured by the case’s clips.
Looks good, right? Even better is the fact that when the Kindle2 is in the case, all buttons and ports on the edges of the device are easily accessible. The covered Previous Page button works fairly well; I found that it worked 8 out of ten times when I clicked it. Fortunately Prev is not a regularly used button, but if I had to hit it multiple times, it would be easy to just swivel the lighted panel to the left and access it directly.
Now to put it to the test. Here is the Kindle screen in a darkened room; reading would be a strain, to say the least.
This is the light on high…
…and this is the light on low. Either setting is completely readable, without being obnoxiously bright. The included batteries are expected to last a maximum of 24 hours reading time.
One last feature worth mentioning is that unlike a hardback book, you can fold the Enlighten’s front flap all the way to the back and tuck the loop in to keep the case open for one handed reading.
This is an absolutely gorgeous case that will appeal to anyone who has ever wished they could read their Kindle in a dark room. If you have a voracious Kindle2 user on your gift-list, then this is an item that will be sure to please.
The Case-Mate Enlighten Light Enabled Kindle2 Leather Case will be available directly from the manufacturer. They are expected to begin shipping in early December; you can get more info by signing up for the Case-Mate newsletter.
What I Like: Beautiful stiff leather case has appearance of a fine leather-bound hardback; case can be held by one hand; integrated LED panel with 24 hour battery life and two lighting levels; case secures Kindle with its built-in fastening system – no loops or Velcro; all ports and buttons on the top, right and bottom are easily accessible when Kindle2 is in case; integrated Previous Page button
What Needs Improvement: The integrated Previous Page button worked 8 out of 10 times I tried it. This is a very small quibble, but there is is.