If you’re looking for an ereader that’s easy on the eyes, check out the Kindle Paperwhite. This Kindle has enough new features that may make you want to upgrade from an older Kindle or jump on the bandwagon and get your first Kindle.
Paperwhite Screen Improvements
The biggest improvement of the Paperwhite is the lighted screen. Unlike traditional tablets such as the iPad or the Kindle Fire, the Paperwhite is lit from above, resulting in less eyestrain than tablets with LCD screens that are lit from behind. The Paperwhite also has 62% more pixels than other Kindles (221 pixels per inch vs 167 pixels per inch on other Kindle ereaders), so the text is sharp and clear.
The light is bright on the screen, but emits only a soft glow in a dark room, so the light shouldn’t disturb someone sleeping next to you or the person sitting beside you in a dark plane cabin. You can easily adjust the brightness of the screen, turning the light down to preserve battery. There is no switch to turn off the light, but you can turn the brightness down all the way to zero.
Even though the screen is lit, it’s easy to read in bright sunlight. I took the Paperwhite outside on a sunny day and had no problem seeing the screen.
The contrast between the text and the background has improved substantially over previous Kindle models.
The result of these improvements is a Kindle that is much easier to read than previous Kindle ereaders. Since you’re getting an ereader to read, these improvements are significant.
Kindles have always had the advantage of flexible font sizes. If you read better with larger font sizes, then you will appreciate the ability to change your font size to larger typefaces. But with the Paperwhite you can now choose from seven different fonts to make your reading experience more pleasurable.
The Kindle Paperwhite comes with one button at the bottom to turn it on and off. Navigation is done through a touch screen with easy controls. Coming from a Kindle Keyboard, I was hesitant about the Paperwhite’s navigation because I found the navigation of the Kindle Touch confusing. Few things are more jarring to the reading experience than accidentally skipping ahead a few pages because you were holding your ereader the wrong way.
The Paperwhite navigation is intuitive. Touch the left third of the page and you go back one page. Tap the right 2/3 of the page and you move ahead one page. You can also swipe the screen to turn pages.
Tap the top of the screen to reveal the menu bar, with controls to get to the Home screen, and adjust the light and the fonts.
Page turning is much quicker than with earlier Kindle models. The screen no longer has to refresh when a page is turned, making the reading experience much more seamless.
A very cool feature of the Paperwhite is Time to Read, which is revealed when you tap the lower left corner of the screen. The Kindle predicts how long it will take you to finish a chapter based on your reading speed so far.
The screen size of the Paperwhite is the same as previous Kindle ereaders, 6″ diagonally. But the body of the Paperwhite has shed weight and girth, measuring a slim 0.36″ thin and weighing in at 7.8 ounces (222 grams) for the 3G model and 7.5 ounces (213 grams) for the Wi-Fi only model. If holding the Paperwhite in your hand for extended periods of time strains your muscles, then you probably need the workout.
The Paperwhite has the X-Ray feature, showing you where else in the book a major character or a keyword appears on X-Ray enabled Kindle books. If you’ll be using your Kindle as a study guide or you’re curious about a character, this is a handy feature.
In spite of having a lighted screen, the Paperwhite reports battery life that is measured in weeks, not days. 8 weeks to be exact. Amazon bases this claim on 1/2 hour of reading per day and the light set at 10 (24 is the maximum light setting). No word on how much being connected to Wi-Fi and 3G depletes battery life, but if you’re going to be away from a power source for eight weeks, chances are you won’t have Internet connection during that time either.
Here’s a video by Amazon showing how the Kindle Paperwhite was invented:
As many wonderful features as the Paperwhite has, it isn’t perfect. This is the first generation of Kindle that has this lighting, and some compromises seem to have been made.
When the screen is lit, you will see shadows at the bottom of the screen. The light seems fairly uniform until you get to the bottom of the screen and then you see the shadows. I didn’t find this distracting when I read, but it does seem surprising that the rest of the screen, including the other three edges, has even lighting. The shadows are most noticeable when the screen is bright and imperceptible (at least to me) at lower light settings.
The Paperwhite was designed for reading, not listening. The device has no speakers nor a headphone jack. This means there is no text-to-speech available for Kindle books and you can’t listen to audiobooks on the Paperwhite. The loss of speakers and a headphone jack is unfortunate because those with vision issues, who may greatly appreciate the lighted screen with greater contrast, may also be the ones who miss the audio capabilities on the Paperwhite the most.
The Paperwhite’s Experimental browser is limited to Amazon and Wikipedia when connected to the Internet using 3G. This is a big change over the Kindle Keyboard 3G, which gives access to almost all sites over its 3G Experimental browser. See, Kindle Experimental: Worldwide 3G Internet Browser. If you travel abroad and rely on your Kindle to avoid international data roaming charges, stick with the Kindle Keyboard 3G.
The storage on the Paperwhite is 2 GB, which means that this Kindle will “only” hold 1.100 books, as opposed to the Kindle Keyboard which is 4 GB and holds 2,200 books. The Paperwhite does not have an SD card slot so the storage space is not expandable.
Note that Amazon offers unlimited Cloud storage for your Kindle books so while the storage on your Kindle is limited, the number of Kindle books you can own is unlimited.
The Kindle Paperwhite is available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models, both with and without Special Offers (a/k/a targeted ads).
$119 with Special Offers
$139 without Special Offers
Wi-Fi + 3G
$179 with Special Offers
$199 without Special Offers
There are no monthly fees for the 3G data connection and you are not charged when you use 3G. The only time you pay for the 3G Internet connection is when you first purchase your Kindle.
Ads appear on the screen saver and in a banner at the bottom of the home screen. If you buy a Kindle with Special Offers and find the ads distracting, you can pay $20 to remove the advertising at any time.
The screen of the Paperwhite is so bright and clear that it spoiled me. After seeing the Paperwhite’s screen, I now find the screen of the Kindle Keyboard to be unappealing. I no longer want to read on a Kindle Keyboard, only on the Paperwhite. Think of watching television on a non-HD screen after you’ve been watching on an HD screen. What once seemed perfectly fine doesn’t seem acceptable any more.
If the cons aren’t deal-breakers for you and you’re looking for an ereader that’s very easy to read, the Paperwhite will be a delight for your eyes.
Have you been looking for an ereader that’s easy on the eyes? Have you seen the screen of the Paperwhite? Are any cons of the Paperwhite a deal-breaker for you? Let us know in the Comments section below
If you’re looking for a fun, insightful, touching and informative book to read on the Kindle (and who isn’t?), check out Bruce Sallan’s recent book, The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad’s Point-of-View available for $2.99. Sallan, a radio show host, author, and fellow blogger, tells the tale of his cross-country trip from California to Massachusetts to take his oldest son off to college for the first time.
The heart-warming story is funny, inspirational and educational as he tries to bond with his son across the miles and through the adventures. Whether you’re a parent or have ever had a parent, you’re bound to find something to relate to in this journal of their journey.