With the details getting leaked about the new Kobo Clara 2E that’s soon to get released, it made me wonder how many people really care about ebook readers being waterproof.
One of the key changes with the Clara 2E is they made it waterproof. So now the Clara, the Kobo Sage, and Kobo Libra 2 all have waterproof designs.
The Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis are both waterproof as well; it’s the current fad to make ebook readers waterproof.
This is a thing that never made any sense to me. How many devices are actually being saved by this feature? One in ten thousand, maybe? One in twenty thousand, perhaps? How many people are really going around dropping their ereaders in bodies of water?
I would contend that most non-waterproof devices can withstand being splashed with a small amount of water if you wipe it off and don’t let it seep in. This “waterproofing” thing really only helps ereaders that have been completely submerged in water.
Calling these devices “waterproof” is a bit of a misnomer anyway. It’s more like water-resistant, and only for short times in small amounts of water. If you read the stipulations at Amazon it says that waterproof Kindles can withstand being in 2 meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes and 0.25 meters for 3 minutes in seawater.
These devices aren’t functional underwater, and you’re supposed to let them dry out if they get wet.
Why are we all having to pay more for waterproof designs when 99.9% of us are likely to never make use of this “feature”? Even if it only adds $5 more to the overall price, it’s not like we’re dealing with a super expensive $1000 phone. You can get a Kindle Paperwhite for $139 or a Kobo Libra 2 for $179.
To me, the whole “waterproof” thing is just a gimmick. I get that some people like reading in the bath, but even still how many people are regularly dropping their device in the tub, and it’s not like your ereader is suddenly going to go flying 6-10+ feet out of your hand when sitting by a pool or on the beach.
I’ve never had a device ruined by getting wet so I guess I just don’t understand the appeal of waterproof ereaders. If I’m clumsy enough to drop my Kindle or Kobo in water, I feel like that’s my own fault and I should have to pay for the mistake. If I had to buy another device to make up for it then I probably wouldn’t drop it in water again. Why should everyone else have to pay more for my (potential) clumsiness?
Charles Kemp says
Being waterproof isn’t even near the top of my list if requirements
Clarity of screen and even lighting is more important to me than waterproofing.
Steve H. says
Bad marketing! Who cares about waterproof should pay for this useless feature!
Yes, I like having water resistant devices. I read in the tub and in the pool. It’s just nice to know that if it took a dunk, I can rinse and dry it and not have to wonder if it will be okay.
This! I do a lot of my reading in the tub. Also if I’m cleaning it with a damp cloth, it’s nice to know it won’t get damaged. Same with if I’m out in the rain and have my ereader on me, knowing it wouldn’t get damaged.
My Paperwhite 2 wasn’t waterproofed, and it got sand or some debris that caused bright spots on the screen when the light was on, and waterproofing would have kept that from happening I’m sure. I do read a lot at the beach, so I want water/sand-proofing.
That’s more of an indented screen thing. Frontlight layers are prone to scratches, especially the older ones, but not all waterproof devices have flush screens with an added layer over the top, like the Kobo Libra 2. Rubbing sand on it would probably scratch the light layer too, regardless of waterproofing.
I care, I won’t buy one that’s not waterproof, it’s such a relief when I’ve had my kindle on a bike ride and it started raining to know it wouldn’t get ruined. It’s also nice to read at pool, on beach, in bath and not worry about water ruining it.
I don’t really care that much but it is nice to know that if I spill a cup of coffee on it or something it will be ok
I care and I won’t buy one now without it, I like being able to read in pool, tub & have a drink without worrying about it. I stole a comment Bezos made & used a zip lock bag for years in those environments! To your point about paying more, “features” tend to start out on higher end devices & migrate down over time in electronics. I’m not sure how much water proofing is actually adding to cost at these volumes, can’t be much.
I like USB c but would like to see Qi charging (no ports) more as ironically I still use the ziplock bag at the beach due to sand. At some point these new features give me an excuse to upgrade since these last forever!
Sportbike Mike says
I have good news for you then. The Kindle Paperwhite SE does have wireless charging.
I’d like to know that should I spill my drink on the thing it wouldn’t ruin it. But I want it to be a regular feature not a paid upgrade thing. If they keep this up, pretty soon an actual power off instead of sleep will be a paid upgrade. There are so many more important features to improve!
Had one friend who said this was very important since they could only find time to read while soaking in the tub at the end of a long day.
For myself and other friends it was at the bottom of the list of nice to have features. Clarity of screen, weight, and screen size more important.
I guess waterproofing is a “nice-to-have”. Would I pay $20 more for it versus a non-waterproof device? Nope. I do like to read outside, but I can’t recall the last time I was stuck outside reading when it started raining.
Sportbike Mike says
I can. It was it was Thursday. I read when I go for my daily speed walk around the neighborhood. I was reading on my Boox, which isn’t waterproof, so when it started raining, I tucked it against my side and headed home early. I probably would have stayed out had I been reading on my Kindle or Pocketbooks.
I had a Sony PRS-950 with a 7 inches screen which I loved. I read in the bathtub only once with it. I didn’t drop it in the water or anything but just the steam and condensation affected it because even before I was out of the bathtub, it started playing up, pages turning by themselves, etc and within an hour became completely unuseable when the menu button stopped working. The ereader had a touch screen to turn the pages of a book but to access other functions, you needed to use buttons. I assume the steam and condensation from the bath corroded the button contacts. Even after letting the ereader dry a few days, the buttons never worked again. Ever since that experience, I love the idea of a waterproof ereader.
I replaced the broken Sony with the Kobo Glo HD which I love and use to this day. It is not waterproof of course. Since it doesn’t have any buttons, it probably wouldn’t be affected if I were to take it with me in the bathtub but I never dared. I was not interested in the Clara when it was release because it was too similar to the Glo HD – the only new feature that would have interested me was the different light temperatures, but it was not sufficient for me to want to upgrade. With the new Clara being waterprooof, it might reconsider.
To me it’s the single most important thing. I would never buy e-reader that is not waterproof. I read in a tub regularly, I keep reading even if it’s slightly raining, I don’t have to worry if my kids will spill water on it etc. Definitely not a gimmick.
Wow, it’s surprising to see how many people do care about waterproof ereaders. But some people like having insurance more than others so I get it, and I can see how if you lived in a really humid or rainy environment it would matter more too.
Craig Reynolds says
I think at the end of the day it’s more about the opportunities it opens up due to having some basic tolerance to moisture, than the devices it saves from unexpected exposure.
Don’t care if my eReader is waterproof.
I would like page turn buttons returned to the traditional shaped Kindle.
Personally I like having my reader be water resistant but not enough to pay extra.
Besides, I think the real motive behind making all our mobile devices water resistant is to stop them being somewhat user maintenance accessible, used to be you could re[place a battery yourself now you’ll need to pay someone or more likely replace the device when the battery on your perfectly kept device get to the end of it’s lifetime.
I don’t *need* the feature, but it makes sense to me that it’s advertised, maybe moreso than some of the other features. I’m not really a bath or beach reader, but I’m a beverage drinker. A lot of us have had electronics damaged in some way by moisture, or had close calls, and I think the idea of something being waterproof makes us feel like it’s sturdier, even if it would really be just as sturdy without that feature. I think being waterproof also gives it an edge over paper books, and that may be the real reason why companies keep striving for it and advertising it.
Daniel B says
I prefer waterproof to stop dust and whatnot from getting in the device. It’s not a deal breaker- but a nice to have.
Steve Richards says
I care, I spend an hour a day reading in the bath and often ready by the swimming pool, it’s a great feature
Yes, i care.
It needs to be a device of convenience, so i can take it anywhere without needing to put a single iota of pre-planning into its safety.
I agree that waterproofing isn’t really necessary. But based on all the marketing Amazon does on waterproofing, it would appear that everyone gets their Kindle, changes into a swimsuit, and jumps in the water to read, all the time, every day. 😁
Sportbike Mike says
The Kindle subreddit does have a lot of beach pictures.
It’s funny because it’s true. About half the posts in the Kindle subreddit are people taking pictures of themselves reading on a Kindle in various locations, often at the beach. You rarely see that in other subreddits for other ereaders. It’s a weird thing to do if you ask me and I wish those posts could be filtered out. 😀
Being waterproof really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. I love the textured screen on my Paperwhite 3 that feels like paper and makes the same scratchy sound as paper when I run my fingers over it. They haven’t offered that screen on any Paperwhite since the 7th generation so I’m not interested in getting a newer Kindle. If I’m not going to give up my textured screen in order to get more memory or dark mode or a better sidelight or any of the other improvements in the Paperwhite 4 and 5 then I’m certainly not going to do it just to get a waterproof model.
George M West says
Waterproofing is a nice feature, but it’s not nearly as important as high resolution text or quality lighting. I myself wish my Kindle had greater control over the color of the backlighting. I’d prefer something more white as opposed to the blue/grayish standard that I have now. I have no use for the night-friendly amber tones either.
Sportbike Mike says
The night friendly amber tones can mute that blue to white.
I’ve had a basic 10th gen now for over a year and a half with no water damage, but I do think it is nice to have that extra layer of protection as you just never know. I have worried about getting caught in a sudden rain while out and about. The waterproofing would eliminate that worry. I see it like seatbelts, they are great to have just in case, but you hope to never need them.
Sportbike Mike says
It’s not a sticking point for me, but I have four devices I rotate through on a weekly basis and there of the four are waterproof. All four have been exposed to some amount of water. From rain, letting the dreads drip dry in the shower, or water intrusion into a motorcycle tank bag. I also have no qualms about having my Oasis or paperwhite 4 near the pool or in my pocket on a motorcycle ride or hike.
So, while it isn’t necessary for me, I will and have willing paid extra for it. The Pocketbooks, part of the four I use regularly, both have cheaper non-waterproof versions. Those weren’t the ones I bought.
As a parent with young kids on e-readers I love waterproof devices. Anything to up the resilience factor is a huge plus for me. I’d be shocked if the cost of waterproofing added anything close to $5 to the price of the device, and let’s not forget that these devices cost a fraction of what they used to anyway. The original kindle was $400 and not nearly as good as todays base models which you can routinely buy for a quarter of that. We’re getting much, much, much more for much, much, much less. Adding waterproofing to help add to the already long life of these devices makes great sense to me.
Of all the readers I’ve owned, none has met death by water exposure.
So, is it a necessary feature to me? No. But, it is a feature that I don’t mind having! For instance, I used to have a cat that would come, get happy, and drool copiously in the near vicinity or on my reader and I always worried moisture might get inside and cause a problem. When I upgraded to a larger screen reader and it also happened to be waterproof, one less worry.
I do read while eating, so there’s drinks that could be spilled or soup and I feel like the water resistance means that the reader could survive an *incident*. And, when the inevitable bits of something get on the screen, I don’t worry about cleaning the screen.
Don’t know how much the waterproofing adds to the cost, and I’ve heard that it degrades over time anyway, but as long as it’s not a very expensive addition and I suspect it isn’t, I don’t mind having it or paying the bit extra for it.
I’m not a clothes horse, I don’t buy jewelry, I don’t subscribe to music services or Netflix because I’m not a TV watcher, but I love to read, so I don’t mind spending a tiny bit extra on my e-readers.
Companies making e-readers have to consider all customers, and it would be ridiculous to make a model in both waterproof and non-waterproof versions to satisfy everyone’s happiness.
Waterproofing doesn’t mean much to me personally, but I don’t read in the tub (I take showers).
Me too. As a guy, I think I greatly underestimated how many ladies do like to read in the tub. I guess whoever is in charge of Kindle marketing really does know what they’re doing. 😀
Jessica C. says
I have primary hyperhidrosis, which for me means sweaty feet and hands. So I like knowing that my Kindle won’t get ruined if my hands are sweating while I’m holding it. I also appreciate the peace of mind if I decide to take it camping, in the bath, cook from a Kindle cookbook, or just with my kid around not having to worry they’ll knock over a glass of water right next to it.
For me it’s a big feature since I’m a big bathtub reader.
John R says
Reading while floating in the pool is one of my greatest pleasures. I’ve killed one kindle a summer doing it and I have no regrets. So yes, I would love a waterproof kindle! I think qi charging will go a long way.
I think it also depends on where you live/travel. I spend a lot of time in tropical places with monsoon rains and on beaches. For me, if anything I have electronic doesn’t have at least a reasonable level of water resistance, I often don’t dare take it outside with me. This means I despite loving my ereader I am frequently using my phone to read instead. For people who don’t live in a place with heavy rains or who don’t spend a lot of time travelling, it’s probably not a big deal outside of liking to read in the tub. But there’s a lot of people living in places like Florida or even the PNW too.