Like a genius mastermind in one of those mystery novels, Amazon loves to bide its time. It wasn’t the first to come up with the modern E Ink reader — Sony did that. Even rival Barnes & Noble beat it to releasing a tablet-style reader with the Nook Color and a light-up E Ink reader with the Nook Glowlight. Yet despite all that, Amazon’s offerings give new meaning to being fashionably late by continuing to beat its more early rivals. The Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 remain bestsellers, essentially ceding ground only to Apple’s popular iPad. Meanwhile, its new light-up E Ink reader the Kindle Paperwhite is now considered the gold standard for such devices. What makes the Paperwhite so popular? Let’s take a closer look shall we?
As far the Paperwhite’s strengths go, the display is definitely at the top of the list. With the Paperwhite, Amazon has managed to do an excellent job of marrying a quality E Ink display with a top notch lighting system that complements the raison d’etre for a classic reader versus a tablet — mainly, a more comfortable, paperlike reading experience. Text is crisp and clear thanks to a 212-ppi display with 16 levels of gray. The addition of built-in lighting also takes away the need for an external lighting source in order to read at night or in low-light situations. Amazon’s decision to go with front lighting instead of a backlight also makes reading easier on the eyes.
Battery life remains solid, even when factoring in Amazon’s magic math. The company claims eight weeks of battery life, the caveat being that the number is based on 30 minutes of reading per day with wireless connectivity off. That essentially boils down to 28 hours with the light setting at 10, which still gets you more than a day’s worth of reading. Speaking of wireless, the Paperwhite comes in two flavors for connectivity: a Wi-Fi only version for $119 and a 3G version for $179. The device also gets free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots.
Folks who like to take their e-readers on the go will like its portability, especially for plane flights. The Paperwhite measures 6.7 inches tall, 4.6 inches wide and 0.36 inches thick while weighing just 7.5 ounces. Although its 2GB internal storage seems small, especially when considering that only 1.25GB of that is available for user storage, it can still hold about 1,100 e-books. Users also get free cloud storage for content bought on Amazon. Rounding out the Paperwhite’s list of strengths is Amazon’s well-designed ecosystem, which gets even better when combined with the device’s touchscreen functionality and quick interface.
Despite the aforementioned strengths, however, the Paperwhite still has its share of issues. One that earned a lot of consternation from consumers is Amazon’s decision to incorporate ads into the Paperwhite, which can only be removed if you pay a fee. Price is also a factor for the 3G version, which gets a significant markup for the feature. The device’s minimalist design also does not include page-turn buttons, which might rankle some users. Then there’s Amazon’s tradition of using a proprietary format for its e-books, essentially locking customers into the company’s e-readers for content they’ve already bought.
Even with its drawbacks, however, the Paperwhite remains an excellent reader thanks to its solid list of features. If you’re looking for an E Ink reader and don’t mind being locked into Amazon’s ecosystem, then the Paperwhite is arguably the best e-reader that’s available to date.
For more about Amazon’s line of e-readers, make sure to read our Amazon Kindle Hub.