It’s pretty clear Amazon is betting big on ebooks especially with the Kindle Paperwhite sale. It’s distraction-free, easy to hold and use, and lasts for weeks on a single charge. Here is the second generation of Kindle Paperwhite. Its hardware update is subtle, but the price along with Amazon’s vast library of content and new software features continue to make it the best e-reading experience. Let’s find out what it has to offer.
On the surface, the Kindle Paperwhite looks very similar to last year’s version. It measures 6.7 by 4.6 by 0.36 inches and weighs 7.3 ounces. The dimensions are the same, but it’s a bit lighter. The old Kindle logo on the back panel has been switched out for the Amazon logo. Otherwise, the bottom edge features the same micro USB charger port, status LED, and power button as before; there are no other hardware controls.
It’s still housed in a soft touch rubberized coating that feels nice and soft. With a matted black finish and rounded off edges, the Paperwhite has been designed to feel effortless, but the large Amazon insignia emblazoned on the back may take away some of the eloquence.
The 6-inch display delivers a reasonably sharp 212ppi and 16 levels of gray, and Amazon has tweaked contrast levels once again. But the real story is the upgraded edge lighting. Unlike last year’s model, you don’t see any blooming along the bottom edge of the screen, and the light is just brighter this time around. Amazon also claims to have improved touch response by 19 percent, though the older version was still pretty accurate in my experience.
The Kindle Paperwhite hooks into 802.11b/g/n networks, and a 3G cellular option is still available. Charging is easy with the bundled micro USB cable, and takes about four hours. But there’s no included AC adapter; you’ll need to use a PC. Amazon sells a small USB-compatible AC adapter, as well as a leather cover with a magnetic clasp that wakes up the device when you open it.
Interface and Reading
The Home button brings you to the home screen. A top row of icons contains Home, Back, Light, Cart, Search, and Menu buttons, the latter of which drops down extra options for creating collections, syncing, and changing settings. A lower-case “G” icon also appears in the toolbar if you have the latest OS update. You also can toggle between displaying all of your books in the cloud or just the ones on the device. The cover-based interface is easy to get the hang of, and you can flip back and forth between cover display and a list view. In typical Amazon fashion, along the bottom are suggestions for buying additional books. Once you select a book, you can start reading. The reading interface looks and works almost the same as on the previous version.
Most of the right hand side of the display, all the way down to the bottom edge, acts as a giant page turn button. A small portion on the left steps back a page, while an inch-deep bar across the top brings up a two-row Menu bar. The first row contains the same icons as on the home page. Beneath the first row are buttons to adjust the font, go to a specific page, bring up X-Ray for more information on a topic, Share to Facebook or Twitter, and Bookmark pages. Reading is a delight. Aside from the much brighter display, the best thing about the new Kindle Paperwhite is how fast it is. Loading books and turning pages feels quick, and makes the old Paperwhite model seem oddly sluggish.
Amazon also reduced the frequency of full-page screen refreshes, from once every six page turns, to whenever an internal algorithm decides it’s necessary to preserve font sharpness.
As with previous versions, Amazon says that the Paperwhite can last for two months straight on a single charge – that’s if it’s used sparingly and with minimal backlight. This is common with most ereaders, their low-power e-ink screens mean that they’re more durable in the battery department than fully functioning tablets. I tested the Paperwhite and found that after two days’ solid use, the battery only dropped by just under 10%.
The new Kindle Paperwhite has all the same advantages as the first one (good touch interactions, a responsive, even better-lit screen and a rich ecosystem…), but Amazon’s extensive offer notwithstanding, it would still be nice to have a more open system that reads more file formats and plays audio books. The screen is definitely sharper and more evenly lit than the first Paperwhite’s, but we don’t see enough reasons to ditch your old one and buy the new generation.