When Amazon started the eBook revolution 5 years ago the first readers were big, clunky and needed an external light to read in the dark. Well, with the release of the Paperwhite all that has changed.
Out of the box the Kindle Paperwhite is a stylish little tablet just a tad bigger than a paperback but a whole lot thinner at 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm). The matte screen is offset by the shiny black bezel and the back of the Paperwhite has a matte black grippy finish that feels good in the hand.
Tipping the scales at 7.5 ounces (213 grams) the Paperwhite has nicely tapered edges and no blemishes save for a small bump at the bottom that houses the power switch and mini USB jack for charging. You will have to provide your own charger as the Paperwhite comes only with a USB cable.
Power it on and you will see the Paperwhite’s frontlit, high-res capacitive touchscreen and immediately notice how sharp and contrasty the 6″ screen is. It is a 16-level gray scale screen with sharp 221 pixels per inch and the fonts are optimized for maximum readability and comfort.
A front lit screen is lit from the front. So instead of a light shining into your eyes, it shines on the screen. This means you can read the Kindle comfortably at night without the need for a reading light. It also brightens up the screen, so instead of a grey-ish display you get one that’s Paperwhite. I found the touch sensitivity and accuracy better than other touch readers I have used.
The light is what sets the Paperwhite apart from other e-Readers. It designed to illuminate the text through reflection, rather than by shining a light in your face. You can read in complete darkness but, I prefer a lamp when I read but even with a lamp the brightening effect of the light improves the experience. I found the light set at a bit over 50% works for daytime reading and even on a flight in and out of dark clouds I didn’t have to adjust the level. The light is uneven at the bottom quarter inch of the screen..a sort of vague shadow but it didn’t bother me or detract from the reading experience.
The Kindle Paperwhite has all the features common to other Kindle readers with a couple of exclusives thrown in for good measure: Time to Read is really clever. It analyses the speed at which you read and estimates how long it will take you to read the next chapter, or the rest of the book book. If you’re wondering if you have enough time to read the next chapter before then plane lands, it can tell you with decent accuracy.
The other feature is X-Ray. This shows you information about the important characters in the book or on the page. It requires the book you’re reading to have this feature enabled, and a lot of books won’t. The latest Clive Cussler novel I am reading does have the feature enabled and it is interesting but, for the life of me I can’t figure out why I would need this information.
My Kindle Paperwhite came with Amazon’s standard leather case which is quite classy looking and certainly offers a measure of protection for the Paperwhite allows you to treat it as you would a traditional book without having to worry about it being a delicate electronic device.The case is feather light and I find it makes the Paperwhite easier to hold without accidentally touching the screen and changing pages accidentally. Plus it turns the device on and off a la iPad Smart Cover.
If you are looking for an e-Reader, the Kindle Paperwhite is certainly the best one you can buy featuring a bright, sharp screen with all the usual Kindle features and then some in a lightweight durable package. You will however, pay for all this goodness. The Kindle Paperwhite is $139 from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca as well as from stores where Kindle products are sold.