This is the second generation of Kindle Paperwhite. The first gen was largely heralded as being the best digital ink eReader you could buy. Not much needed to be changed or altered for the 2nd gen Paperwhite, but Amazon still found some areas to tweak and improve.
Paperwhite stands as an excellent execution of an eReader. If you’re looking at a gadget to primarily read books on, a digital ink display is critical. For years now they’ve near perfectly replicated the printed page. Digital ink is static, and doesn’t refresh 60 times a second like LCD displays do. Once the page refreshes it stays in place until you turn to the next page. This also radically reduces battery drain, as electricity is only used when turning pages.
In terms of design, Paperwhite is simplicity at it’s finest. There are no distractions. It’s built for one purpose: reading. We’ve even given up on the illusion that eReaders also have to be MP3 players. Nope. Reading is more than enough to justify the gadget’s existence. There’s a power button and MicroUSB port on the bottom. That’s it. You should only care about the screen and what’s on that screen. No buttons or switches or rockers. End of story.
Instead of buttons, Paperwhite has a touchscreen. There are no markers on the screen or controls to take up screen real estate. You just have zones. Touch the right edge of the screen, page turns forward. Left side, turn back a page. Touch the top and get access to menus. Once you run a set up tutorial, there are no visual indications of how to control the device. Books first. Everything else last.
The Paperwhite fits in the hand fantastically well, smaller than any previous eReader. Not only is it easier to hold than an actual book, it’s also noticeably smaller than most portable tablets like my Nexus 7.
Amazon claims a higher resolution display and faster page turns. It’s hard to see much difference in performance. The nature of digital ink means there will always be a lag or a pulse in turn pages. Text is very crisp, especially if you’ve been reading on an older Android tablet or iPad. The Paperwhite’s back light does seem to be improved. The screen glows more evenly, and it’s a handy feature reading at night and not keeping a spouse up with a lamp.
Lastly, the frugality of the internal guts and the power sipping screen means you can count on weeks of use. Disabling WiFi means almost no electricity is used to run the device. It’s head and shoulders above the hours of “screen on” battery life you’ll get from a tablet.
It’s nice to see Amazon not resting on their laurels here. While I think digital ink is revolutionary, eReaders are admittedly not the most exciting gadgets. Unlike proper tablets which can do a little of everything, eReaders do only one thing. However, Paperwhite does it incredibly well. Amazon could have sat back and let it ride. They face almost no competition in this market, but even small improvements and updates are appreciated.
Kindle Paperwhite starts at $119 for a WiFi only model featuring ads, but I’d spot the extra $20 to get a reader without advertising. Also, the official Kindle cover features a handy little magnet which turns the screen on and off for an even more book-like experience (making sure you never have to hit the power button).