Amazon’s latest Kindle is an updated version of its Paperwhite, now with a crisper and easier to read screen with twice the number of pixels.
The Paperwhite is the midrange Kindle, below the top-of-the-line £170 Voyage that promises every bell and whistle, and above the £50 basic Kindle. But has Amazon eaten into the Voyage’s advantage by giving the new Paperwhite the same resolution e-paper screen as its flagship?
Simple monochromatic design
From the outside it’s difficult to see what’s changed. It’s the same screen-focused design. The back is covered in a soft-touch plastic, the front bezel is harder and slightly more grey than the previous generation.
There are no buttons apart from the power button on the bottom edge – a touchscreen takes care of the rest. Swipe or touch the right hand side to turn the page, the left to go back. Touch the top to invoke the menu and change settings, adjust the backlight or select a new book.
If you have ever used a Kindle or any other e-reader it will be immediately familiar.
The 6in screen is the focus. It has twice the number of pixels and a screen density of 88 more pixels per inch (PPI) than the previous generation Paperwhite at 300PPI, which is noticeable when reading text. For comparison the cheapest Kindle costing £49 has a 6in screen with 167PPI, which is noticeably less clear.
The front light makes the page appear white, which is where its name comes from, and can be manually adjusted from really very bright to very dim for reading in the dark. The backlight is even across the page, but the very bottom of the page looks slightly greyer.
It is the best screen ever fitted to the Paperwhite, and while it matches the most expensive Kindle, the £170 Voyage, on pixel count it isn’t quite as high quality.
- Screen: 6in e-paper (300ppi)
- Dimensions: 169 x 117 x 9.1 mm
- Weight: 205g (3G version 217g)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (3G optional)
- Storage: 4GB
- Battery life: rated for approximately 21 hours of reading
New fonts and features
Amazon has a new font for its Kindles called Bookerly, which is designed for reading on screen rather than the printed page, and new typesetting features. Combined they make reading on screen easier than using classics such as Helvetica. I found eye-strain wasn’t an issue, even during long reading sessions – it is for me reading on screen on a smartphone or tablet.
Amazon’s X-ray, notations, word look-up and progress indicators, which tell you how much longer it will take you to finish a chapter, all add value and interest to the reading experience.
Hold a finger on a word or a name and a context sensitive information box pops up, which is particularly useful for abbreviated terms, acronyms or characters you’d forgotten about.
Faster and lasts 21 hours
The new Paperwhite is also slightly faster and more responsive while navigating the interface than the previous generation. It doesn’t rival a premium tablet, but feels snappy for an e-reader.
The Paperwhite weighs 205g, is 9.1mm thick and is easy to hold in one hand. Turning a page with the touchscreen is easy with two hands, less so with one – buttons on the right- and left-hand edges for page turning would be nice.
Amazon claims the Paperwhite lasts for up to six weeks reading 30 minutes a day (21 hours in total) with the brightness set to 10 out of 24 levels. That’s two weeks less than the previous Paperwhite with the same settings, but easily long enough to finish a book or two.
I managed to finish two 400-page books with airplane mode on before needing to recharge the Paperwhite. Leaving the Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity on drained the battery more quickly.
The Kindle Paperwhite 2015 costs the same as the previous generation at £109.99 for a Wi-Fi only version with special offers, which puts adverts on to the lockscreen for books and other bits.
A version with 3G is also available costing £169.99, while removing the ads costs £10. It is currently available for pre-order shipping on 30 June.
The new Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon’s best yet. Its light, easy to hold and use, while the screen one of the crispest e-paper screens I have seen. It makes reading a pleasure and I read for longer than I would normally.
It’s not a giant leap over last year’s Kindle Paperwhite or the first one, but is a substantial improvement over Amazon’s basic Kindle and is arguably better than most other similarly priced rivals.
It also isn’t quite as good as the Voyage, which is still my favourite e-reader, but it is £60 less expensive.
The Paperwhite is therefore for someone who is an extensive book reader, would like access to Amazon’s large library and doesn’t mind being locked into it, but can’t stomach paying much more than £100 for a single-use device. For that purpose, it is excellent.
Pros: great screen, easy to use, look-up and X-ray features are great, even backlight, large range of accessories, extensive book store
Cons: relatively expensive for a single-use device, no automatic adjustments of the backlight, no page turn buttons
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