Almost two weeks ago (at the time of writing this review; October 2012) I received an email from Amazon, showing off the Kindle Paperwhite. I recently purchased the Kindle Touch in August, and my initial reaction to seeing Amazon replace the UK market with this device so quickly was not positive. Being unaware of the US-exclusive existence of the PaperWhite, I took some time to read reviews about the new features, and immediately realised that this was what I wanted from my Kindle Touch. The additional features in this upgrade seemed sufficient to justify the purchase and soon after, I pre-ordered Amazon’s latest offering.
-The Kindle Paperwhite ships in its original box and was highly nostalgic of the Kindle Touch. On opening the box, the Paperwhite is the first thing you see, wrapped in a plastic film cover. A usb cable and quick start guide are also included.
-The home button is gone, replaced by a Kindle logo. Also, the device is very slightly thinner than the Touch, but any difference is hardly noticeable.
-The bezel is noticeably smaller in width, with the screen now also sitting more flush.
-The device itself is very slick, and generally looks and feels more classy and elegant than the Touch. It has a slate-black finish, with a rubber-like material on the back to aid grip during long reading sessions (although I have housed my Kindle in a cover).
LIGHT GUIDE AND SCREEN RESOLUTION
-Arguably, the biggest selling point for this new Kindle is the amazing built-in light. I can imagine that most existing Kindle owners would upgrade for this alone. Light brightness is adjusted by a slider accessed at the top of the screen.
-Amazon have also increased the screen resolution/pixel density to 220 PPI. This works out to be 62% more pixels than the Touch. In actuality, I could not notice much of a difference, especially when the screen brightness was fully dimmed. However, there is a noticeable difference when screen brightness is maxed out, providing greater contrast.
-The native (unlit) screen background is essentially the same colour as previous models, with the `Paperwhite’ only becoming apparent when brightness is increased. However, when screen brightness is on the highest setting, I have noticed some uneven light distribution along the bottom of the screen. This does not personally affect my reading experience, but some may find it distracting.
IMPROVED TOUCH SCREEN
-The Kindle Papwerwhite’s 6″ touch screen has been enhanced, and now uses ‘capacitative touch’, instead of previous generation Kindles that use ‘Infra Red touch’. Simply put, this change translates to a more accurate touch sensor, resulting in smoother page turns and more specific touches in general. Although the touch response is not as effective as my iPad, I have found the difference to be much better than the kindle Touch.
-Typing is definitely easier than the Touch, due to the improved capabilities of the new touch screen. There is less delay from pressing characters to them appearing on screen and typing accuracy is also increased.
OTHER NEW FEATURES
-The biggest change is apparent once you turn the Kindle on, with a complete overhaul on the user interface. Books are now displayed with a book cover icon, as opposed to the text format of previous generations. A negative point I can raise here is that book ‘recommendations’ (ads) appear at the bottom of the screen. There is an option to revert to the old menu interface from the Kindle Touch; I prefer this option as it doesn’t show these book suggestions from Amazon.
-There are now six different font styles to choose from, with eight adjustable sizes.
-Bookmarks, notes/annotations and the dictionary are all still present, and work as efficiently as before.
-One feature I really found to be welcome was the ability to see how much time is left until the next chapter. The time remaining is intuitively calculated by the Kindle, based on your previous reading speed.
-Although I have not yet had the device for long enough to comment on the battery life, Amazon claims 8 weeks, which is identical to the Touch. However, I have used the device for a few hours now, and not noticed any decline in the battery icon.
*edit: Okay, after owning this device for almost 4 months now, I can say that the battery life is every bit as good as the Kindle Touch. I read on the PW for ~8-10 hrs per week (medium to low light), and am currently doing a full charge (with a usb mains plug) every 3-4 weeks (although I could push this to 5 if I depleted the battery completely)* I should also add, that battery is only affected when turning pages and refreshing the screen, not when static images are displayed.
-Although certain features have been lost (see cons), the Kindle Paperwhite still retains wikipedia support and web browsing (which is very basic indeed).
-I would also highly recommend the official Amazon case, which I ordered with my Kindle PW. The Kindle fits in nicely and is very secure, allowing you to wake the Kindle from sleep mode when the cover is opened.
-I was a tad disappointed with the loss of the stereo speakers. This results in no text-to-audio feature and no audiobooks.
-Also gone are the headphone jack and mp3 payer.
-On board memory has been slashed from 4GB in the Touch to 2GB with the Paperwhite. Amazon provides justification for this by allowing readers to take advantage of Amazon’s cloud based storage. With the removal of mp3 and audio playback, this reduction is not much of an issue, as 2GB is still plenty of space to store around 1000 e-Books.
With the tablet march on the rise, I am glad that there is still a huge market for dedicated e-readers. People often ask why I own both an iPad and Kindle, when I have the ability to read Kindle books on tablets. Yes, the Kindle is low tech when compared to tablets, but I feel that this is an unfair comparison. The Kindle is an excellent device for ‘reading’, with no distractions, an intuitive interface, paper-like visuals and a very small learning curve.
Although the new features of the Kindle are highly recommended, I will sorely miss audio books, mp3 playback and text to audio. If you did not fully utilise these features, I would strongly recommend the Kindle Paperwhite. However, if listening to audiobooks and mp3s on your Kindle is important, you may wish to weigh the pros and cons of this new device.