Kindle Paperwhite 2 review (2013)

Although I purchased the original Kindle Paperwhite back in in October 2012, I was enticed by the additional features of this upgraded model. In particular, I was looking forward to the increased resolution of the screen and “next-gen light”, which I felt may provide for an even more paper-like reading experience. My 2012 Paperwhite did suffer from a minor case of the ‘blotching’ issues at the bottom of the screen (which didn’t disturb my personal reading experience). I have just received the upgraded Kindle Paperwhite earlier this morning and this is definitely not there with this new version. However, I have still been pondering over whether or not the new features justify an upgrade from the previous generation. Here are my thoughts.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
-As with previous Kindles, the Paperwhite ships in its original box. Along with the PW, a usb cable and quick-start guide are included. If you want to offer the PW as a gift, I would strongly advise ticking the “this is a gift” option at checkout, as Amazon will then ship (at no extra charge) the PW in separate outer packaging.

-The updated PW looks identical to the previous generation, with the exception of changing the “Kindle” logo on the back of the device to “Amazon”. The only other slight change is an ever so slight reduction in weight (from 213 to 206 grams).

IMG_0385

NEW HARDWARE:
-Improved screen: The new Paperwhite boasts an improved screen, which Amazon claims offers better contrast and “blacker blacks”. Without getting too caught up on these technical details, it can be concluded that the screen definitely does look sharper and brighter. Text is visibly more crisp and stands out more. Furthermore, the brightness of the light has also increased a little, which is particularly notable when the brightness is maxed out. In fact, it is almost too bright, and I cannot imagine myself ever exceeding 75%, even in direct sunlight. A comparison of the existing Paperwhite (left) and new 2013 model can be seen below.

IMG_0386

-Faster processor: The processor has also seen an improvement, from 800 MhZ to 1 GhZ, thereby supporting Amazon’s claim of a “25% performance increase”. Yes, page turns are slightly faster, as is returning to the home screen. However, the difference is not significant and does not really enhance the reading experience.

-Better touch technology: Amazon also claim that the touch response is more accurate with the new PW. I personally have not noticed much of a difference (although I have only owned the device for a few hours at time of writing this review!), and touch technology with e-reader screens is definitely inferior to capacitative touch screens (i.e. iPad, smart phones, etc).

NEW SOFTWARE:
A number of new software features are available. However, these are features which Amazon could easily roll out to existing PW users through a simple software update. Whether or not they decide to do this remains to be seen.

-Kindle Page Flip allows users to scan through a book without losing their current reading page. This is a very welcome feature as I read textbooks on my Kindle and flicker back and forth a lot.

-The new PW logs words you check with the dictionary (i.e. by pressing down on a word) in a vocabulary builder, allowing you to check back on these words.

-Words checked in dictionary can now also be checked on wikipedia, where applicable. I have only tried out this feature, but as I read lots of non-fiction (mostly science books), this is very handy for checking wikipedia for complex scientific terminology.

EXISTING FEATURES
-Existing features from the original Paperwhite are all still here as well. Variety in font sizes, annotations, x-ray features, whisper sync and the amount of time left in a book.

-Wikipedia support and a (very!) basic web browser remain intact. For the web browser, think text only and sluggish scrolling.

-Battery life is also identical to the previous generation, with Amazon claiming ~8 weeks on standby. Realistically, with the original PW I managed to squeeze around 3-4 weeks with around 15-20 hours of reading per week.

-Wifi connectivity is again quick and easy. If you are on the road a lot and extensively use wikipedia, you may wish to opt for the 3G paperwhite.

-The size is also identical to the previous generation, evidence of which can be noted as I have housed my new PW in the previous generation’s Kindle cover:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amazon-Kindle-Paperwhite-Leather-Cover/dp/B008BQH1NO/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1378744763&sr=8-7&keywords=kindle+cover

FLAWS
When the original Paperwhite was launched last year, a few features from previous models had been removed. I had high hopes that these features would inevitably return in the second iteration of the PW. Unfortunately, it seems that these features may be gone for good (unless Amazon is planning these to be included in the 3rd PW model!).

-Once agin, there is no text-to-audio.

-The mp3 player, headphone jack and stereo speakers are also absent.

-On board memory also remains at 2GB. However, as there is no mp3 and audio playback, this is not much of an issue, as 2GB is still plenty of space to store around 1000 e-Books. Also, Amazon now stores all of your e-books in the cloud, allowing you to retrieve books at your leisure.

-Again, a wall charger is not included, meaning one must charge through their computer. However, you don’t need to purchase the Kindle branded wall charger and and USB based one will work (like the one included with the iPad).

CONCLUSION
There is no doubt that the Paperwhite may arguably be the best e-reader on the market. The screen is a joy to read on and with a very small learning curve, caters to a wide range of consumers. Even those who are not familiar with tablets and other new gadgets on the market will feel right at home with the Kindle.

I own an iPad mini which contains the Kindle app, and know many who use their tablets for reading books on. Unfortunately, these devices with backlit screens do not even come close to the Kindle reading experience. The Kindle screen truly does look amazing and is the closest `paper-like’ experience on the market today. With the added benefit of carrying your entire book collection in a single device, this is a readers dream.

However, despite the improved screen, touch response, new software features and slight bump in the processor, this new model may be difficult to recommend to existing PW owners. If you are a keen gadget enthusiast or like to have the latest version of gadgets, you may justify the purchase regardless. However, the majority of people who boarded the Paperwhite ship last year may decide to pass over this latest addition. However, if you are upgrading from the Kindle Keyboard or even the Touch, I can definitely recommend this new model, provided you can overlook the flaws I mentioned.

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2 thoughts on “Kindle Paperwhite 2 review (2013)

  1. Awesome detailed review and comparison! As a current 1st gen PW owner and avid reader, I’ve been going back and forth about upgrading to the the 2nd gen PW. I’ll stick with my current PW and hope the 3rd gen will bring further refinements.

    • Thank, Kevin. I agree that the upgrade to PW2 is not really worthy for existing PW owners. In fact, I have now returned my PW2 and eagerly await to see what the next model brings!

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