Design & Usability
The same great Kindle hardware, now with a backlight.
For the most part, eReaders have fallen into roughly what their ideal form should be, so there are very few, if any, innovations from year to year. As with most other eReaders, its light weight makes it easy to hold for long durations, and there aren't any sharp or prominent edges that will dig into your hand. Overall, very satisfying to use.
Because the has only the power button on the bottom, users are forced to interact with the device using the capacitive touch screen. That's not a bad thing, as it allows control of your eBooks in a way that feels very natural. For example, you can tap the edges or swipe your finger to turn pages. Additionally, you can change the font or font size by opening the menu at the top of the screen, making your books that much easier to read.
Your eReader communicates with the world through two ways: a micro-USB cable and an 802.11n wireless card. You don't need a computer to charge, but because there is no wall unit for the USB cable, you probably should plug into your Mac or PC when you can. If you don't have access to Wi-Fi, you will not be able to reach the Kindle Store from the eReader.
Unlike tablets with LCD screens, eReaders primarily use eInk, a display that uses ambient light to be seen, meaning brighter lighting conditions are ideal. The combines an eInk display and a backlight, and should be able to keep up with your reading habits no matter the lighting condition, especially in bed at night.
So far, the best eInk display of any eReader.
Here it is, the most-hyped feature of Amazon's new eReader: the screen. A backlit eInk display may not sound like a huge innovation, but it allows you to read your books at night without a flashlight or other external light source, and that adds a lot to the experience, especially if you're a night reader.
Reading eBooks on your new Kindle is intensely rewarding, as it feels very much like you're reading from an actual book and not a cold, soulless machine. Either tap or swipe to turn pages, and tap the top of the screen to call out a menu for advanced options like font, size, quick jump to a chapter, or to get back to the home screen.
With a battery that gives you over 24 hours of reading an eBook straight on full backlight, you should be covered for most long trips and casual use. We still recommend turning the wireless off whenever possible, and if you're in daylight, turning the backlight to minimum, as that chews through the battery at a blistering pace.
What the lacks in apps, it makes up for in services. While eReaders typically aren't given as much support as tablets, it's very interesting to see what Amazon is doing to put its products ahead of the competition. Not only did Amazon roll out the long-awaited public library loan program (allowing you to borrow eBooks from your local participating library for free), but it also introduced the world to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, allowing its users to act as their own massive crowd-sourced library. You'll need to manage this with your computer via Amazon's webpage, but it's still a very cool feature.
Great eReader, but battery life is a concern.
Overall, a very impressive fielding from Amazon in the eReader department. Not only does the Kindle Paperwhite enjoy all the same content availability and support as the other Kindles, but it is the beneficiary of a sizable spec bump and a backlight that enables one of the best all-around eReader experiences on the market currently.
The Paperwhite has its share of issues, but they're relatively minor: namely, its battery only lasts a little over 24 hours on full backlight, and Wi-Fi also puts a drain on battery life. If that's the worst we can complain about, that's not so bad at all, is it?
By adding a higher pixel density screen, the text looks crisp and much like a printed page even under a microscope. The better processor and across-the-board boost in performance eliminates many of the minor annoyances of the early eReaders, and the does a great job of remaining as hassle-free as one could hope for an eReader.
By the numbers, the Kindle Paperwhite out-specs and outperforms other eReaders... just not in battery life.
An impressive screen
With a very high pixel density (PPI) of 215, text on your will look much like it was actually printed on there. For some, the effect is a bit jarring, but you'll get used to it after a while. While it isn't exactly a necessity to have the highest PPI for something that displays text from a book in black and white, it's still cool when you forget that you're not reading a paperback.
All things considered, the isn't terribly reflective, making it a very good option to take outdoors with you. The coating on the screen breaks up the reflection quite nicely, so you won't have to worry about seeing yourself in a mirror-like surface.
Decent overall battery performance.
With a battery that gives you just barely over 24 hours of reading an eBook straight on full backlight, you should be covered for most long trips and casual use. We still recommend turning the wireless off whenever possible, and if you're in daylight, turning the backlight to minimum, as that chews through the battery at a blistering pace.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging@cthomas8888
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.
Checking our work.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.Shoot us an email