EC Media recently unveiled the Wink e-book reader, the Wink XTS, at an event in Delhi. Notwithstanding all the brave talk and aggro in the press booklet (“So, if some Californian tries to sell you a pad that you can read on, just Wink at him” it says at one place) and the fact that it seems undoubtedly superior to the Infibeam Pi (better build quality, a linked bookstore and Wi-Fi connectivity), we think it is nowhere near toppling the Kindle from its roost, notwithstanding all the urging of our patriotic hearts. No, this is not just a random appraisal. We managed to spend some time with the device and spotted five clear reasons why India’s latest e-book reader will come a cropper against the might of Amazon’s gadget.
1. Price and costs: The Wink XTS comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and costs Rs 11, 490. The Kindle 3 Wi-Fi + 3G comes for around Rs 12,000 in all, with free lifetime Internet access and is delivered to your doorstep. Yes, a Wink with 3G connectivity is also expected to be available shortly, but you will have to go and find a 3G connection yourself and cough up the costs for the connection and using it. Quite simply, the Kindle 3G+Wi-Fi seems much better value for money as you can access a bookstore at any time and buy books as long as there is network connectivity, without paying a penny for being online.
2. Library: We were told in the Wink brochure that “with millions of titles at your fingertips, you’re doing much more than self-service with Your Wink.” But a visit to the Wink Bookstore (www.thewinkstore.com) today showed 1,97, 244 titles – not just a far cry from the “millions of titles” but also well short of the 4,49,383 titles offered on the Kindle book store. Yes, the Wink does support more formats than the Kindle and also has support for Indian fonts (although it has only an English keyboard and supports voice to text only in English), but honestly, there are not enough Indian language books out there at the moment to make a difference . We also could not see any established magazines or newspapers on the Wink Store, although we are keeping our fingers crossed that they will appear at some stage. We also need to make a point about the bizarre classification of books in the Wink Store – “Plumbing: Instant Answers” and “The Interior Design Business Handbook” were the first two titles to show up in the “Sports and Adventure” category!
3. Speed: We do not care how fast the processor in the Wink XTS is – the stark fact is that the XTS is much slower than the Kindle 3. Books take longer to open and even page turns seem slower.
4. Battery life: The Wink XTS claims to go up to 300 hours of usage without wireless connectivity, the Kindle 3 (3G +WiFi model)claims to go for one month without wireless connectivity and ten days with wireless on. Even if these are exaggerated (and they normally are) figures, the difference is staggering.
5. Interface: The Kindle’s user interface seems a lot more intuitive than the Wink’s, which begins with icons but then leads up to folder icons that look right out of a computer. We also like the fact that the Kindle has navigation buttons on both sides, while the Wink has them only on the left, necessitating that it is best used when held in the left hand.
It is not that we think that the Wink is a poor product – it is by far the best e-book reader produced by an Indian company – but a Kindle killer, it ain’t. Not yet, anyway. We are rooting for you, fellas, but right now, we are sticking with the Kindle when it comes to reading books.