Design and Build
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has nearly the same dimensions and weight (169 x 117 x 9.1 mm / 213 grammes) as the Kindle Touch (172 x 120 x 10.5 mm / 213 grammes). This is a comfortable size for an e-reader. While 213 grammes is just about the same as a paperback, which tend to weigh around 150 to 200 grammes, it's one of the heaviest e-readers, and after using it for a while you can feel the 28-gramme difference between it and the lighter Kobo Glo. As with the Kindle Touch, you could easily mistake the plastic on the body for metal, giving the Paperwhite a hint of elegance. And the finishing is high-quality. However, the soft-touch back collects smudges and scrapes at the slightest touch of a finger or fingernail.
The display is a 6-inch 2-point multitouch screen with 1024 x 768 resolution for a pixel density of 212 dpi, which makes lettering considerably more precise than on the Kindle Touch.
The 2 GB of memory (roughly 1.25 GB are available for storing e-books, the rest is required for the system) can hold, 1,100 e-books at the very least, where the average size of an e-book is 750 KB. When you purchase a Paperwhite you also get free cloud storage for additional books.
Even more convenient, the 3G model allows you to buy e-books anytime, anywhere. It'll cost you an extra £60 when you buy the e-reader, but all 3G communications are free and use the same wireless signals as a portable phone.
The Kindle Paperwhite has just one port, for USB charging (sorry folks, the memory's non-expandable). We like the fact there's also a power adapter cable (sold separately), which allows you to plug the e-reader directly into the wall and charge.
All the elements on the homescreen are clearly understandable: the screen consists of three sections with a bar for the search function, brightness, purchase basket and settings on top; your items (e-books, documents, periodicals...) directly below; and best-sellers at the bottom.
There are seven fonts and eight font sizes to choose from, and you can select the line spacing and margins.
The predictive text function enables you to type words more quickly with the virtual keyboard.
The Kindle Paperwhite features Amazon's patented LED screen technology that's designed to distribute light uniformly across the display. Unlike the traditional backlit screens you find on touchscreen tablets, the Kindle Paperwhite shines light from the top of the screen across the surface of the E-Ink display to avoid light being directed toward your eyes.
The only thing is, we found halos of light at the bottom of the screen that give off a neon-like glow and detract from the consistency of the lighting. This is especially noticeable on the edges of the screen, as seen below:
Amazon likens its technology to a flattened out optical fibre that uses nanoimprinting to evenly illuminate the display. At all times it's quick and easy to change the brightness settings to fit the room in which you're reading.
Instructions are written in the brightness menu to remind you that low settings are recommended in dark rooms and high settings are recommended for brightly lit rooms. And it works! Once you choose the right level you can read for hours without your eyes getting tired. It's quite a feat!
Adjusting the brightness
Amazon is advertising eight weeks of battery life, even with the screen light on. Funny, we didn't get four weeks out of it, and that was with the brightness on medium...
Here's what's conspicuously missing from the Kindle Paperwhite:
- audio file formats for audio books
- ePub, still yet to appear on an Amazon device
- CBZ and CBR comic book files
Here are the formats it does support: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, native PRC, HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP through conversion.
Amazon's insistence on a closed system that doesn't support non-Amazon-related file formats is a major beef we have with the Kindle product line.
However, if you really want to make up for the lack of ePub support, you can always use Calibre to convert your e-books; it'll just add an unnecessary step to the process.
The Kindle Paperwhite informs you on how far into the book you've read and how much time is left in the book or chapter. It recognises your reading speed based on how long you spend on each page in order to indicate how long it will take you to finish the chapter.
- Illuminated capacitive touchscreen
- Good touch recognition, comfortable to use
- Adapter included
- 3G communications entirely free of charge
- Free cloud storage for Amazon content
- Built-in bookstore and library
- Responsive keyboard with effective predictive text
- Dictionary, translator & Wikipedia
- Share passages by e-mail or social network
- Extensive Amazon ecosystem
- UK adapter not included
- No support for ePub, CBZ/CBR or audio files
- Halos of light around edges / Light not always consistent across screen
- Proprietary system allows Amazon file formats only
- Non-expandable memory
- No SD card slot
- Screen lighting lowers battery life
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a great e-reader, with good touch functionality, a responsive illuminated display and a great ecosystem. But it does have its drawbacks: it's a closed system on which you can only read books sold by Amazon, it doesn't play audio books and the display isn't always evenly lit.