Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-book Review

The Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon comes close to being the perfect solution for on-the-go reading.

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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Pros

  • Fantastic legibility
  • Strong backlight
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • A tad too wide

Bottom Line

Amazon has gone to great lengths to imbue the Kindle Paperwhite with the kind of texture reserved for hardcopy novels. The capacitive, always-legible and well backlit screen delivers a near-flawless experience, and the Paperwhite’s ease of use is so simple, it’s actually elegant.

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‘Focussed’ is the word we would use to describe the Kindle Paperwhite. Every facet of this 6in e-reader is geared towards making electronic reading easy. Its beauty lies in the fine details, like its size, the ease of its menu and the texture of its screen.

The Paperwhite does away with the resistive touchscreens of old in favour of the capacitive standard popularised by iPhones. This means it recognises gestures with almost the same receptiveness as your everyday smartphone. Its 6in screen — which is an ideal size for an e-reader — has a pixel density of 212ppi, and a backlight that works like a warm glow.

Increasing or decreasing the screen’s brightness is matter of simply sliding a gauge up or down. The capacitive technology behind the screen makes this incredibly accurate and practical. In all our testing, we barely used the backlight as the E-ink screen is more legible in general ambient lighting.

It was developed by people who are passionate about reading.

Navigating the Paperwhite is a matter of hitting the screen in the right places: tap the top for the menu bar, the left quarter of the screen for the previous page, and the right three-quarters of the screen for the next page. Amazon has added a grain texture to the Paperwhite’s screen, and the additive rouses a sense of nostalgia traditionally reserved for hardcopy books.

The Kindle is too wide to grasp it from edge-to-edge, but it is light enough to be wielded by one hand
The Kindle is too wide to grasp it from edge-to-edge, but it is light enough to be wielded by one hand

Touch of the old, touch of the new

The Kindle Paperwhite feels like it was developed by people who are passionate about reading. The device has one physical key — a standby/power button located on its base, adjacent to a microUSB port — and pressing it generates graphics of reading memorabilia. Standby screens include images of quills, a typewriter’s keys and the lead of pencils, to name a few. Displayed in the e-reader’s crisp black and white screen, these sentimental photos give this electronic gizmo with a touch of character.

Drawbacks are few and far between

Not all is perfect with the Kindle Paperwhite, but its drawbacks are few and far between. The E-ink technology used still suffers from a little ghosting, but we only noticed the shadows when we really focussed. The Paperwhite refreshes from page to page to minimise the effect. Other gripes include the touch sensitivity of its keyboard, which although is good for an e-reader, still lags behind the familiar keyboards we use daily on smartphones and tablets.

Reading progress is conveyed at the bottom of each page as a completion percentage and an estimate of how much time remains in each chapter
Reading progress is conveyed at the bottom of each page as a completion percentage and an estimate of how much time remains in each chapter

Amazon’s library is extensive and the odds are that most of the titles you’re interested in can be found on its electronic shelf. Indie novels and obscure texts might be missing, but more often than not it will deliver your reading fix. Amazon’s site claims its online store has “over 1,700,000 titles [priced] $9.99 or less”.

Amazon has imbued the Paperwhite with hard-copy texture

The Kindle Paperwhite doesn’t need a PC to work. Electronic titles are downloaded over Wi-Fi and are stored on the device’s 2GB of internal storage. Amazon account holders can find their new and previous purchases under the ‘cloud’ heading of your Kindle’s library.

There are several advantages to jumping on the e-reader wagon. For starters, e-readers tend to be smaller, lighter and more durable than hardcopy novels. Then there’s the painful admission that bookstores are nearing extinction, which makes buying books electronically considerably easier. And finally, with the Kindle Paperwhite you can search online resources, such as a dictionary or wikipedia, without having to leave the page and open a new application.

The Kindle's 2GB of storage can hold 1100 books, according to Amazon
The Kindle's 2GB of storage can hold 1100 books, according to Amazon

We tested the Paperwhite over four weeks, and during that time we drained approximately half the battery. This bodes well for Amazon’s claim that the Paperwhite can last for up to eight weeks before needing a charge.

Final thought

Amazon has gone to great lengths to imbue the Kindle Paperwhite with the kind of texture reserved for hardcopy novels. The capacitive, always-legible and well backlit screen delivers a near-flawless experience, and the Paperwhite’s ease of use is so simple, it’s actually elegant.

We never would have considered ditching hardcopy novels for the romance-less e-book, but the Kindle Paperwhite manages to bring the romance back.

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite retails for $159 in Australia and can be purchased from retailers Dick Smith and Big W.

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Read more on these topics: ereader, amazon, E Ink, Paperwhite, kindle, ebook, Kobo

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