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Kindle Paperwhite

I have lots of Kindles.


According to Amazon, I bought my first Kindle in February 2009, paying $359. It was the second generation, considerably slimmer than the first gen, with a nicer design and better battery. It came with free US cellular service, but no wifi. Some time in 2010, I received a third gen worldwide 3G + wifi model, which is now called the Kindle Keyboard but back then was just the Kindle with 3G. I don’t recall the price, but probably somewhere around $200. It shaved 1.5 ounces off the weight, doubled the battery life, increased the contrast and page turn speed, and chopped the numbers off the keyboard making navigation more annoying. All of this was before the invention of special offers.

Most recently, I ordered the Paperwhite model, wifi only. No keyboard, no cellular service, special offers included, but for $119. For the first time, the screen isn’t just higher contrast, but higher resolution as well. And of course, the battery has doubled again. A little over three years, and the price is now one third of what it used to be.


Arrived about two weeks early. It’s lighter while simultaneously more solid feeling than the keyboard. First thing I noticed when I turned it on is the light on mine isn’t quite as even as promised. There are definitely hotspots at the bottom where the LEDs are, but it’s not too bad. And being able to read in the dark is many times better. So far, it’s delivered pretty well on its promise.

After playing with it for a few weeks, I’ve found I’m happiest leaving the brightness setting at 18 (fairly high), even in the dark. Lower than that doesn’t offer quite enough contrast to read without the room lights on, and even though it’s bright enough to illuminate the room like a flash light, it doesn’t feel like it’s causing eyestrain. During my brief experience with a Kindle Fire, I found I needed the brightness on high during the day, but that was unbearable at night. But dim backlighting didn’t provide sufficient contrast for easy reading. Paperwhite is the first device I’m comfortable using extensively at night.

Tapping the middle of the screen turns the page instead of bringing up the menu. An affordance for left handers I suppose, and not hard to adjust to, but unexpected. It is a little faster and easier to navigate with a touch interface. Fortunately not a whole lot of menu navigating is required to use a Kindle, or previous models would have been exercises in frustration, but this really smooths the experience. The on screen keyboard is considerably easier to use than the crappy mechanical one, and requires less work to get a number into the jump to page box. Briefly, haven’t missed physical turn buttons. Easy enough to flip forward with my thumb while holding it one handed. Magazines and newspapers are much improved by the touch interface.

The screen resolution appears similar, can’t see the refinement. Page turns are faster, but that’s because now they only do screen refreshes every six pages instead of every one. While browsing the store or other graphical areas, more ghosting is observable.

I was able to pile a bunch of books onto it in a matter of seconds. Upgrading Kindles is definitely one of the smoothest gadget transitions I can imagine.


The one complaint which had only recently been growing on me was the requirement to return to the home screen to access the settings menu (to turn wireless off), but that’s been fixed with the 5.3.0 update.

I gave in and turned off ads, just cause. What I didn’t know is that removing ads also removes the lock screen. Now, open the cover or turn on the device and it’s at the last page right away. No swipe to unlock. I think more people who don’t mind the ads, like myself, would get rid of them if they knew it was also a usability improvement. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I got even more than I paid for, so I’m happy. On the other, a less convenient device was not part of my expected bargain with Amazon. I agreed to ads, not inconvenience. I still don’t mind paying to zap the ads, but I would like them to be more forthright about how the ads are imposed.


I originally went caseless, or rather continued using an old zipper sleeve built for a Kindle 2. The 3rd gen rattled around a little in it, but now it was getting too loose. Went with the kind of top of the line magnetic leather case from Amazon. Big improvement. It’s a really tight (perfect) fit, not even sure I can take it out, not that there’s a need to. The magnetic on off is smooth. And the inside of the cover is textured, so that folded backwards, I can rest the Kindle on my leg without it sliding and read hands free. It’s supposed to be real leather, though I’ve felt imitation leather that felt far more convincing. Anyway, it’s not supposed to be a fashion accessory and it doesn’t look stupidly dorky.


I like it.

Posted 08 Oct 2012 20:55 by tedu Updated: 18 Feb 2013 20:48
Tagged: gadget review