Review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Oct
18

Review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

By

Amazon has finally commercially released one of the few e-readers in the world that let you read in any circumstance. The company has been actively developing their new Paperwhite for over six months and it will hit the USA market on October 26th. How does this device stand up to the competition and how does it truly rank in the grand scheme of eBook readers?

Hardware

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite fixes a six inch e-ink Pearl display with tremendous resolution. You are looking at a very solid 1024×768, which is on par with the Kobo Glo, in terms of text and pictures looking very crisp. It runs on a 800 MHZ CPU processor and has 512 MB of RAM. The Paperwhite has a full touchscreen interface and the company has done away with the home and manual page turn buttons. Ironically, the only button that this unit has is the power/standby on the bottom.

Amazon has maintained the same type of glowing LED lights built into the bezel as the Kobo Glo does. The both emit light from the bottom of the screen via 4 small lights that distribute illumination evenly on the screen. This gives you a way better viewing experience then the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, that emits light from the top.

In a side by side comparison with the Kobo Glo and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, there is simply no contest. The Kindle Paperwhite has the best e-Reader in the business and the glowing feature is almost pure white. Both Kobo and B&N give you a blueish tinge that sometimes gives you a weird contrast and saturation effect on cover art and images.

The one odd thing about the Paperwhite is that the glowing function is never truly off, you can turn it down all the way with the option in the main menu interface. Even in complete darkness it still emits a little bit of light, when you turn it into standby mode, it completely disappears. Despite all of this, you still retain around two solid months of battery life and you can eek out a bit more by turning the wireless internet access off.

There are 2 GB of internal storage, but realistically you have access to around 1.4 GB once you account for the operating system and the books loaded in by default. If you have made past purchased from Amazon and sync all of your new content it will decrease even further. There is no expandable memory via SD Card, so you will have to rely on the Amazon Cloud to store the books you are no longer reading and physically delete them from your device. If you have made any notes, highlights or other customized things while reading, this is retained when you store it in the cloud.

Hardware wise, this unit is very slick and surpasses any other pure e-ink based reader that the company has ever produced. It is tremendously responsive in all common menu interactions and browsing the bookstore.

Software

Amazon has completely absolved physical buttons and decided to gravitate towards a pure touchscreen experience. There is a persistent navigation bar on the top of the screen which allows you to access the home, glow, bookstore, search and settings. This top menu normally is event in all of the menus and sub-menus you may visit, which builds some stability in where everything is located.

The main home screen has undergone a tremendous revision from previous iterations of the Kindle e-Reader. In the past, you have received a chronological listing of the most recently loaded on read books on your system. The new home screen shows you cover art of the last few books you read or collections of books you have made. Below that are books showcased by Amazon, such as Kindle Singles or Kindle Series. The books displayed are based on your prior browsing or purchase history.  You can also access books stored in the cloud or located on your device.  I found that all of  your daily functions are accessed in one or two clicks. This makes doing all your normal tasks very easy, without getting buried in sub-menus.

This e-Reader is very internationally friendly and has a myriad of supported languages to customize the UI. You can set your default language to Dutch, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and Portuguese. There is also 8 dictionaries that are automatically inserted into your Cloud account. This is tremendously useful because when you read a book, you can translate a specific word or series of words from one language into another. This is a critical new feature that will appeal towards people learning a new language or in an academic environment.

In many households there are normally one or two e-Readers and people share them with each other. There are strong parental controls on the Paperwhite that allow you to disable access to the internet, store or access to the cloud. Making your own collections further elevates this reader into a family friendly unit.

The Kindle Store remains consistent with the Amazon Kindle 4 and prior models. The interface is normally the same and you have around 1.5 million books to purchase. Unlike their competition, most popular books can be found in one or two clicks only. There is a strong emphasis on Kindle Series, Kindle Singles, Lending Library and their bestsellers.

When you click on a book you are greeted with one of the slickest ways to present all of the details. When you visit the main Amazon website you are greeted with user reviews, ratings, customer discussion and tons more. The e-Reader version mimics this experience and aesthetically borrows the best aspects of the web-based version.  Other features baked into the experience is; related books, Editors reviews, and if the book is compatible with X-Ray.

This reader is brimming with features; from playing games to surfing the internet. One of the cool things about the browser is that you can disable pictures, java and other elements from loading. There is also a feature to just capture the text from a page, so you can read it like a book. If you are a big fan of RSS or reading Blogs, you can use the popular “Send to Kindle” browser add-on for your PC/MAC and send tons of stuff directly to your Kindle.

From a pure software point of view, the Paperwhite is a culmination of six years of e-Readers into one of the well-rounded devices on the planet,  it puts all others on notice.

Reading Experience

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite reads a myriad of eBook formats, including; AZW, PRC, Mobi, TXT, HTML and RTF. It does not handle the industry standard EPUB format, so you will be hard-pressed to buy content from other stores. When you purchase an Amazon device, you are effectively locked into their ecosystem, but sometimes isn’t a bad thing.

There are two eBook formats the Paperwhite handles really well, PDF and Kindle Books. The process in which you customize your reading experience is drastically alterted based on the format of book you are reading.

First and foremost this latest device from Amazon is an eBook reader. If you purchase books from Amazon you get to enjoy all the extra features that make it unique. X-Ray is a popular program that gives you a run down of all the characters in a book, when they were directly referenced and even the dialog they have made. This not only applies to people, but places too. This is handy if you start reading a book and come back to it later. You can instantly familerize yourself with the main cast and what is happening in any given chapter.  X-Ray only works with books purchased from Amazon and not books you load in yourself.

Whether  you are sideloading books or buying them from Amazon the eBook experience remains fairly consistent. You can choose between eight different font types and sizes, to find your optimal comfort zone. You can then change the line spacing and margins, this works with purchased/sideloaded books.

While reading, you can long-press on a specific word or series of books and do a ton with it. You can make your own notes, which are quickly referenced for later, highlights are also a popular method to jot down what is important. You can then send this all to Facebook or Twitter, and share with the world on something that strikes a cord with you.  Anything you highlight or make a note of is retained in the Amazon Cloud once you sync it, so you can have all  your notes and highlights on the iPad version of Amazon Kindle.

One of the coolest new features found on the Paperwhite is the ability to instantly translate words. When you select a specific word the dictionary automatically appears to give you the definition.  When clicking on MORE you can translate these words to 12 different languages.

The PDF experience is very unique and allows you to easily pinch and zoom to find your comfort zone. You can also elect to double tap on the document and it automatically reflows the text. PDF viewing is best made in Landscape mode, which can be accessed via the settings menu. I found most image heavy things look noticeably better in this perspective.

The high resolution display really makes complex PDF files with images look really great. The text on both  PDF and other eBook types look phenomenal and crisp. There are tons of options to really augment your reading experience and changes you make are persistent across the entire Amazon ecosystem.

Our Thoughts

During the last five years we have seen the e-Reader industry mature in a very short period of time. Since we started to review Readers back when the Kindle 2 first came out, we have seen the rise of Barnes and Noble, Kobo and many indie companies. The technology is constantly being refined and price lowered to make it more accessible to the public. The Kindle Paperwhite is currently the apex of what all e-Readers aspire to be.

The Amazon ecosystem is currently the best on the planet when it comes to purely e-ink based readers. There are millions of free and paid books, newspapers, magazines, kids books and self-published content. With the agency model abolished the electronic book is becoming more cost efficient.  Some people might not want to get themselves locked into any one company and prefer to be more agnostic about it, and that’s fine. The Kindle system is currently the best in the world, and as a reader you can’t do much better.

In direct comparisons with the Kobo Glo and Nook Simple Touch, the glowing screen on the Paperwhite is the best there is. It gives a pure white illuminated screen, while everyone else gives you more of a bluish hue. You will notice this yourself on our YOUTUBE Comparison of these devices. (up soon)

In the end, this is simply the most fully featured e-ink based reader we have ever reviewed. It has the best resolution in its class, best illuminated screen,  expansive ecosystem and handles all book formats very well. It is currently the one to beat.

Pros

High Resolution
Expansive Ecosystem
Good Parental Controls
Handles PDF’s Well
Home Screen is Upgraded from Prior Models
Best Demonstration of Glow Technology Found in e-Readers
Lots of International Support

Cons

Locks you Into the Amazon ecosystem
Does not read EPUB
Special Offers Costs $20.00 to Remove

Rating 10/10 (only 10/10 we have ever given)

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Michael Kozlowski (4518 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


  • MisterRubato

    You compared the Paperwhite to B&N’s Simple Touch, but not the direct comparison to the Glow Light from them. Why not? You also didn’t mention the thing everyone has been complaining about, and even Amazon apologized for: the uneven lighting. Very one sided, poorly informed review.

  • Djoshua5000

    Why 10/10? (or maybe I don’t understand how you rate. I don’t see how it adds up to 10/10)

    I would think that these issue below would at lest knock off 1/2 point. I usually think of 10/10 as perfect as can be, and not top of class, having no issues or reasonable concerns. It’s like comparing it to the best it can be, setting the bar as high as it can. Even a 9.8/10 could work as a rating. (in general)

    I take issue with the first two on the list below. A open universal system that doesn’t lock you into there ecosystem which would prevent you from taking the e-book you buy (that are yours because you pay for them) from one system to nether.  

    —Locks you Into the Amazon ecosystem
    —Does not read EPUB
    —Special Offers Costs $20.00 to RemoveIt only has 800 MHZ while the Kobo Glo has 1 GHZ Also no explainable memory, I don’t think the customization text, and font option are as many as the Kobo Glo.  There are report of uneven light (which is true on all glow device)
    However, even if Amazon fix those 2 issue I not sure 10/10 would be correct. To me 10/10 says to me “it was given just because it was Amazon” (but I know that is not true, just it seems like it)  Like I said I think 10/10 as perfect as can be setting the bar as high as you can with in reason with today’s tech. Then comparing it to it. ——————————-Because there is no EPUB support, I’m not buying it, but if it did I would buy it over the Kobo Glo, which I still waiting for it to be available to buy here in the USA. If only Amazon sold EPUB and support EPUB there would have many more customers. Also you mention that the Paperwhite is 1024×768, while you said that the Kobo Glo is 1024 x 758. (I thought they were the same screens)(And almost all other place mention that the Kobo Glo has 1024 x 768. Even the website at one point said it was 1024 x 768, but they change it after you correct me on my last post.)

    Thanks for the reviews and the hard work you put in. I only mean what I wrote as constructive criticism, and not in any mean or useless way— please don’t take it that way.

  • Djoshua5000

    Sorry. My post didn’t quite post the way I thought it would. It seem some auto reformatting change the way it look. Not sure what to expect after I post. 

    Why 10/10? (or maybe I don’t understand how you rate. I don’t see how it adds up to 10/10)I would think that these issue below would at lest knock off 1/2 point. I usually think of 10/10 as perfect as can be, and not top of class, having no issues or reasonable concerns. It’s like comparing it to the best it can be, setting the bar as high as it can. Even a 9.8/10 could work as a rating. (in general)I take issue with the first two on the list below. A open universal system that doesn’t lock you into there ecosystem which would prevent you from taking the e-book you buy (that are yours because you pay for them) from one system to nether.  —Locks you Into the Amazon ecosystem—Does not read EPUB—Special Offers Costs $20.00 to Remove.

    It only has 800 MHZ while the Kobo Glo has 1 GHZ. 

    Also no explainable memory, I don’t think the customization text, and font option are as many as the Kobo Glo. There are report of uneven light. (which is true on all glow device).
    However, even if Amazon fix those 2 issue I not sure 10/10 would be correct. To me 10/10 says to me “it was given just because it was Amazon” (but I know that is not true, just it seems like it).  
    Like I said I think 10/10 as perfect as can be setting the bar as high as you can with in reason with today’s tech. Then comparing it to it. 

    ——————————-.

    Because there is no EPUB support, I’m not buying it, but if it did I would buy it over the Kobo Glo, which I still waiting for it to be available to buy here in the USA. If only Amazon sold EPUB and support EPUB there would have many more customers. 

    Also you mention that the Paperwhite is 1024×768, while you said that the Kobo Glo is 1024 x 758. I thought they were the same screens.

    And almost all other place mention that the Kobo Glo has 1024 x 768. Even the website at one point said it was 1024 x 768, but they change it after you correct me on my last post.Thanks for the reviews and the hard work you put in. I only mean what I wrote as constructive criticism, and not in any mean or useless way— please don’t take it that way.

  • Djoshua5000

    What up? Why does this comments change the flow text. I how know idea what to expect when posting. So sorry for how it looks. 

  • Disappointed reader

    I agree with Djoshua5000 – I also question Goodereader giving the new kindle paperwhite a 10/10 review.  Why do most reviews out there seem to be so biased for Amazon Kindles?  Is it kickbacks given by Amazon, the power of Amazon?  The main reasons that I am not even considering the Kindle (being in Canada – which Goodereader is also!), are the limitations imposed outside of the US by Kindle, the locked in ecosystem, and no EPUB, AND no SD slot.  And as MisterRubato pointed out, even Amazon acknowledges uneven lighting issues and the fact that the new one has only 2GB storage as opposed to the 4GB that the older models had.  What use is Cloud service if you don’t have wifi access (remember Canada = no 3G service).  And the $20 extra to remove the ads brings the price up to the equivalent of the Kobo Glo.

    The fact that the review acknowledges the cons – and they are pretty big cons in my opinion, how can this be a perfect 10? I usually find Goodereader reviews informative but this one smells fishy of bias.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

     We compared it to the Glowlight model. Wait until our YOUTUBE videos are uploaded, where in the same video we compare the kobo glo, amazon paperwhite and nook glowlight in a triparison, you will see how great the paperwhite is compared to those 2.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

     The Kobo Glo is 1024/758, we were told this buy the guy who DESIGNED the Kobo Glo at the Launch event, don’t put much stock into what other websites say, we were there at the Toronto launch event for Kobo, and many people HIGH up at Kobo told us this.

    Amazon has never had an “open” system

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

     There are no kickbacks. We seriously review every single e-reader that hits the market, and we even review obscure stuff no one knows about, but they should. Such as the Wexler Flex One and Icarus Excel, two deadly readers.

    The Lighting system may not be perfect, but vs. anyone who has released a commercially viable e-Reader with Glow Technology the Paperwhite is the BEST right now. You will see how this is quite evident during our comparisons vs the Kobo Glo and Nook Glow.

  • Djoshua5000

    “Amazon has never had an ‘open’ System”

    And it should be mark down for that. No close ereader should get a 10/10 when many other ereader have a open system. 

    Like I said before, I would get Kindle it they added support for epub. Just don’t think 10/10 is right for a close system when others are open.

    But that is just my option, and I have no idea of how rating work anyway.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for responding to my comments.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

     Both Apple and Amazon have closed systems and they are some of the best in the world. Often an “open” ecosystem is used a crutch.

  • Free2mtl

    No microSD slot, no epub support, even no button to control the glow light on/off when you are reading. 10/10 is a joke. Maybe next generation kindle paperwhite will be 11/10. 

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Free2mtl, do you have a paperwhite?

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

     Also, Apple and Amazon have both proven that closed ecosystems are often better and more refined then open ones. Look at Android for example.

  • Europereader

    Thanks for this test! Looking forward to the side by side comparison with the Glo!
    To give my two cents on the two readers: I have been hesitating a lot between the Glo and the Paperwhite for my first e-reader.
    As far as tech specs are concerned, it seems both are very similar, if not the same (I wasn’t aware that the light seems to be better for Amazon’s device as this test suggests, in fact I was worried by some early consumers comments about weird colored spots on their Paperwhite vs. no comment coming from Kobo customers).
    I did read that the OS on Kobo devices freezes quite a bit – no comment on that side from Amazon.
    —–
    Now, what made me decide for the Paperwhite is the Kobo vs. Amazon multi-device reading experience. I plan on reading a lot on my iPhone as well since I take the metro often and it’s easier to carry the phone at all time. So it’s very important for me that the iOS app that couples with the e-reader is good. In particular, I don’t think that I’ll buy a lot of books on the device, but will definitely sideload a lot of them.
    With Amazon, send your sideloaded books to the cloud through a simple app or an email, and you can download them at any time on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad from the cloud in a breeze. Better yet: the reading progress across devices sync, even with sideloaded books (tested between iPhone and iPad).
    With Kobo, I have yet to find a way to easily send the same book to all your devices (i.e. equivalent to Kindle Cloud). I suspect this exists but haven’t found it. What I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist though, is the ability to sync your reading across devices with sideloaded books. In other words: great, you can go get ePubs from wherever you want, but if you don’t buy them from the Kobo/Fnac store then it won’t sync across your devices.
    To conclude on the app section: I also tried to read a bit with both Kindle and Kobo apps: the Kobo app is slower than Kindle, and being located in France, we depend on Fnac to push updates to its Kobo app. It took them a month to fix the crashing app after iOS 6 came out… The average app update rate seems to be once a year. I know where this is headed…

    The ePub issue on Kindle: to me this is a non issue. Install Calibre, convert your ePub to .mobi and send it to Amazon cloud (talking DRM free here, but again, I don’t plan on buying a lot of books and if I do, Amazon will give me greater choices and prices). Takes you less than 2 minutes. If Amazon does sell you their devices at cost, they just can’t afford to let you go buy your content somewhere else, let’s face it… Knowing that, I find the Calibre way around it pretty straightforward and easy.

  • lexxy

    Thank you very much for your objective comparison, for your honest words about the blueish light of cheap LED’s in such devices as Kobo and Nook. That’s good to know before buying because its very important in respect of eyes health and hormonal balance before sleep.

  • def4

    Thanks for the review.

    A small correction: the resolution is 1024×758 on all of the new readers because they all use the same standard EInk screen.
    The only differences are the lighting and the touch sensors.

    Kindle Paperwhite does NOT havd a 1024×768 screen simply because such a screen does not exist.

  • Casualdlee

    People’s problem is the Epub and closed ecoystem have been a complaint for many years, yet Amazon is still selling more than all these other brands of ereader available.

    I think the complaint for these two issues is very minor and is not a problem to the majority who has a Kindle.

    Open system is not always good, becuase I find many people complaint is the lack of features or issues in the software or problems accessing information.

    These complaints against Amazon have been going on for years, and I have not see it affect there sales at all or success at all.

    For most, just having one simple platform is always greater and enough. Apple knows this, and has become the best technology in the world.

    Good Ereader have made plenty of valid points on these issues.

    P.S. I’ve tried a Nook and the experience was not that great for me. However, these ereader and what you make out of it is all subjective. People should take a chill pill.

  • Casualdlee

    Agreed!

  • http://twitter.com/mikeonthemarne Mikeonthemarne

    What does ” It really ascetically draws many parallels with the web based version”? I’ve no idea. Did you mean the adverb “aesthetically”? Even then, I don’t know how you’d draw parallels aesthetically or ascetically!

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

     Thanks for your feedback, we have amended it.

  • gjwilson21

    Hi, its a very good review. 
    But I expected the topic of web browsing to be touched upon.
    How good is the browsing experience in kindle paperwhite 3g?Is there a limit on the data usage? and is the browser useful?

  • Saadie

    Hi, has anyone tried reading any programming books on paperwhite? Any comments specially for code snippets?

    Thanks a lot

  • Jojoman

     Do you mean that Android isn’t better than iOS?? Hard to believe. A fragmented world, yes, but nonetheless much better than the Apple one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.e.sykes Charles Edmund Coote Sykes

    This Paperwhite is so much better than my Kindle Keyboard 3G.  Smaller, clearer, faster. Really easy to download over WiFi from Amazon (and everyone on this forum must have WiFi).  The lighting is near perfect, just a few areas at the bottom of the screen where it is a little uneven but this is below the text area.  The Kindle cover is really great when closed it turns the screen off and it instantly revives the image when opened.  Nobody can justifiably criticize this wonderful ebook.

  • Travis Partington

    I want to know does this Kindle do sub collections. I want to Fiction>Sci Fi>Crime Fiction etc. Does it do that or will have 40 different collections.

  • justin

    Are you guys going to address the frequency of screen issues with device. That alone makes this less than a 10.

  • David M. Brown

    “Amazon has completely absolved physical buttons…” Were the buttons sinning?

  • Lucas McLean

    I really like my paperwhite but this review misses a lot of cons.
    Battery isn’t replaceable
    No removable storage
    When using at night the background isn’t a uniform colour. LEDs can be seen on bottom of screen also.

    10/10 is a little generous, and i would say 8.5/10 is more fair. Best ebook reader on the market currently though in my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/ThiefofCamorr Katharine

    ‘X-Ray only works with books purchased from Amazon and not books you load in yourself.’ – it doesn’t seem to be working with the Scott Lynch books I bought. It does with a Sherlock Holmes book. So not all books have this feature, which is incredibly disappointing. I’d love to see a list of books that have the ability.

  • eBook Reader Reviews

    very inspiring, i really love the simple and clean.

    http://www.fbipro.com

  • Save Lowest

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  • greenanswersforyou

    When i start reading on kindle paper white it was really great experience the device software and storage every thing is just perfect easy to use and easy to carry.
    http://www.greenanswersforyou.us/

  • Deb

    Can I turn off all of the frequent and almost automatic special paperwhite features (word dictionary checks, xray, font changes and the like)? If yes, please tell me how thru email – smileofachild@att.net. I generally do not need these and find them very distracting from a casual read. Thx, good peoples!

  • imno007

    Well, just because they still sell a LOT does not mean these things don’t affect sales at all. If they did support epub they would probably sell even MORE. I myself have never bought a Kindle and mainly for this reason – and I’m sure there’s plenty more like me out there in the world. ;)

  • imno007

    Maybe, these closed ecosystems might in some ways be better “refined”, but mainly for people with money to burn ;)

  • OVOMO

    I like how this is the only thing you have given a 10/10!
    http://newpaperwhite.wordpress.com/