For a while I owned the Kindle 3 (the clunky keyboard one) which was good although fairly quickly got replaced by reading books on my phone, if an actual book was unattainable. I noticed I was actually reading more and more books on my phone due to the copies of books I wanted being excessively overpriced in shops or only available from overseas online order, and would take a week to arrive. So upgrading to a new Kindle sounded like a good plan to me, and the new Paperwhite looked magical.
I managed to sell my keyboard Kindle for a good price and saved up a few more precious dollars for the new purchase which would set me back $214 (NZ dollars). I decided to buy the new Kindle from a retailer instead of order from Amazon directly. So on the day of purchase, with giddy excitement, I went in and bought the WiFi Kindle Paperwhite.
First impressions were really good, the light was even and it was in working order. I downloaded a book and got to reading. However! There was a raised piece of plastic on the back, right where your hand holds it which was quite annoying and after a bit I noticed there was some dust particles trapped under the screen. I decided that for the price it should be good so I took it back. The shop was happy to swap it and they opened up the packet to make sure the new one was fine before the swap and no, it wasn’t. The other one had a big grey mark under the screen. They opened another packet and the same. Three Kindles and all with defects, this was not good. I took the third one, with a defect and resolved to put up with it. I got it home, fired it up and to my dismay the light was extremely blotchy. The light was really bright in the bottom right corner and cloudy at the top, it also leaked through a crack in the side too. Not happy. The next day I took the Kindle to a different store of the same chain and asked to swap it. By now I was actually just going to swap it with the Kindle Touch, and be rid of this cursed Paperwhite, but they had none. I swapped for my fourth Paperwhite, checked it in the shop and there was no marks on the screen, so far so good. It was too bright in the shop to see if the light was blotchy so I took it. I got back to the office and upon turning it on realized they have accidently given me the 3G version. I called up the shop and said to the guy who had done the exchange that he’d given me the 3G version when I was supposed to have the WiFi version and he said that it was his mistake and I could keep the 3G one (which costs $300 NZ dollars), Wehoo. And on closer inspection the light was good, not perfect but good, and there were no screen imperfections or bumps of plastic on the back.
So with poor manufacturing consistency issues out of the way finally I was ready to start using my new Kindle Paperwhite. Now the actual review of the product can begin.
First off, even before you turn it on, it has a great feel in your hand. Just the right size, a good amount of edge to grip and the rubber-like hard backing is quite nice.
Once on, the display is crisp and seamless. I like that it only does a full display refresh every five or so page turns, page turns are super quick. There is a bit of ghosting at times, but nothing to be concerned about and it’s not any more than you would experience in a real book.
Downloading books is very easy and quick and having the home screen display the book covers is a real selling point for me too.
What the Kindle does well, in my opinion, is disappear when reading. The page is paper-like and the actual body of the thing does not distract from the book you are reading. At the bottom of the screen is your reading location and the percentage you have completed of the book. You can also just tap the bottom corner and it will tell you how many minutes you have left to read in the chapter and also how many minutes left in the book. This is a fantastic tool for seeing how long you have left to read a chapter, especially on a lunch break or just out of curiosity (although it can turn into a habit). I’m not sure if this technology is a standardized thing for an average reading speed or actually learns your individual speed, but it’s not the most accurate thing invented. It’s not too far off, but sometimes when you have 1 minute left, you actually have five. I think it depends on the text size too.
The other tools are brilliant and work really well. Highlighting text, the inbuilt dictionary, notes and even translations are seamless and easy to use. The ability to change fonts is wonderful and I’m particularly fond of the new Baskerville.
But what sets this Kindle apart is the light. Engineered to shine inwards (to imitate reading by lamplight) and be evenly distributed across the whole screen, it does pretty well. The light is created by four LED at the bottom which does make the bottom of the screen a tad brighter than the rest of it. However with the light on low you can hardly notice. The brightness has 24 settings from very dim up to bright white. Reading in the dark, of which I have done a fair bit, is really good. However it’s not paper-white in the dark, it takes on a blue hue. It’s not too bad but it’s not white. It’s fine in daylight to have the light off or even on setting 10-15 to give a whiter screen. However my only qualm with the light is that you can’t actually turn it completely off. Even on ‘off’ it is still light enough to read in the dark.
The light isn’t perfect but it’s not terrible. And for those times you want to read in the dark it does the job well and does not leave your eyes burning with a glow like other electronic screens.
There are a lot of features I’m yet to explore, but I’m really enjoying it. I was quite frustrated at the rigmarole it took to get a decent unit but now that I do it’s fantastic. It’s much much better than reading on my phone and a vast improvement on the keyboard version. I would recommend the Kindle Paperwhite but would do so with caution because it seems, from experience and what I’ve read online, that Amazon have had a lot of issues with faulty units. But if you get a good one, great, you will love it.