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An official commented on the review below
on October 7, 2012
So far, I love my new Paperwhite Kindle. I've been using an aging keyboard Kindle 2, waiting for a version with a built-in light like this. Amazon really got it right with the light on this one.

The high resolution screen is noticeably easier to read, and the user interface is well thought out.

The form factor is also an amazing improvement. I like the tactile feel of the Kindle's back, although I'm awaiting shipment of Amazon's leather case because I like to take my Kindle everywhere and this device feels small and delicate, and I've liked the old Amazon leather case on my old Kindle.

The one thing keeping me from giving this product a 5-star review is a software issue that really irks me: I paid the extra $20 to have a Kindle without advertising, yet the entire bottom half of the home screen in cover view is taken up with Amazon's recommendations for me to buy new books. This is advertising, and it is totally unacceptable in a product that costs extra just to avoid advertising. Targeted advertising is still advertising, and there's not enough space on this screen to make any amount of advertising okay with me.

If I ever want to see what Amazon recommends for me, I'll visit the Amazon Store and look myself. The end result of this unsolicited advertising on my home screen is that I have to scroll past it to see more than three of the titles on my device, whereas if the ad was gone, I could see six titles right away on the home screen. Given the way the Kindle's user interface is designed, going to the home screen is necessary to get just about anywhere else, so this advertising block causes me to have to scroll past it over and over again, gumming up my otherwise smooth user experience on the device.

Amazon could easily make this optional with a software update, and I hope they do so very soon. At the very least, this unsolicited, mandatory advertising on the home screen needs to be explicitly disclosed on the sales pages. Had I known that there would still be advertising I could not remove on my device, I might not have paid $20 to avoid advertising.

Until Amazon gives us the option to disable these "recommendations" on the home screen, I've used parental controls to just disable the store completely on my Kindle. That does make the ads go away, but it's not really a convenient solution, because if I ever actually want to buy something on my Kindle, I'll need to type in a password and re-enable the store. I'll more likely use a different device for all purchases. This forced advertising, then, really backfires in my case because instead of enticing me to buy more books right on my Kindle, it's prompted me to shut the store down completely on the Kindle.

* UPDATE: I left this review years ago, then never realized until just recently that it had received so much attention. Had I realized that, I'd have posted an update sooner. I don't remember exactly when, but Amazon did, as promised, release a software update that made it not only possible but easy to remove those recommendations (ads, as far as I'm concerned) from the home page of the ad-free Kindle. I now have upgraded to a Kindle Voyage and am very happy with it, and these recommendations never appeared on it, even by default when it was new. I've changed my review to 5 stars and will mention this in my upcoming Voyage review.
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I have been using the Paperwhite exclusively for reading for two weeks now vs. my other Kindles, and I am writing this review from the perspective of being a long-time Kindle user vs. someone brand new to the Kindle experience as well as in direct comparison to the Kindle Touch, which the Paperwhite replaced.

From an overall standpoint, and considering everything you get (compact e-Reader,touch screen, lighting system), the Paperwhite is a very good e-Reader. I am amazed at how much smaller these e-Readers can become with each new generation yet still not feel like you're losing anything from a "feels like a book" experience.

To address the reading experience, I wasn't sure what to expect with the display. Needless to say, the text on the screen is much more crisp than any of the other version of an e-Ink Kindle I have used, and just to ensure I wasn't being biased I put the Paperwhite next to a Kindle 3 / Keyboard, a Touch, a "regular" Kindle, and a Kindle DX - all on the same page of a book with the covers removed (didn't want the cover to give an optical illusion or anything) - and you can clearly see a better quality in terms of the fonts.

Reading at night is a good experience with the lighting display in comparison to the other versions of Kindle because you don't need an additional light that can get in the way: it didn't disturb, for example, my wife who likes to watch TV in a dark room. It was also very convenient on a plane ride at night as I was able to see the full page of the text vs. a light attachment only reaching most of the screen: there are no impediments to the reading screen.

Turning the page backwards and forwards is as simple as a simple tap of the thumb as you hold the device or, if you prefer, a swipe with your finger in either direction. It did take a little getting used to turning with my thumb as I have been trained after years on a Kindle Keyboard and DX to press a button - it didn't take that long and after about 5% or so into a science fiction novel I didn't even notice the new turning action. This page turning experience is a significant improvement over the previous Kindle Touch and much appreciated!

Accessing the menu structure of the Paperwhite is as simple as touching the top 20-30% of the screen where you can quickly access a keyboard, hit the menu, table of contents, etc. Navigation is a piece of cake.

Web surfing speed with the WiFi feature on the Paperwhite is about the same as the other type of e-Ink Kindles. Doing a side-by-side test I tried the mobile websites of Fox News and CNN and they popped right up; the usual slow sites were still slower than Christmas. Checking email with an e-Ink Kindle via gmail is a chore with this as well as other versions of e-Ink Kindle, but none of that is really important to me as I have too many device that do that anyway: when I have my Kindle, I usually want to read a book vs. surf the web or check email.

Despite what people may say, size matters! In this case, the Paperwhite is not too small and not too large and Amazon appears to have hit the sweet spot. I would highly recommend the Amazon-branded case for it, as it fits snug and firm and automatically puts the unit into sleep mode when you close the cover, and wakes it back up when you open the cover. To see the cover I purchased, click this link: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover, Onyx Black (does not fit Kindle or Kindle Touch)

About the only negative I have for this unit, if you could even call it a negative, is I wish I had bought the 3G version vs. the Wi-Fi only - for someone who travels a lot with my job, what was I thinking?!? Accordingly, I ordered one of those. Despite that statement, for just $119 I think this is a great unit and I enjoyed reading with it: the Paperwhite may soon be replacing my beloved Kindle Keyboard permanently!
121121 comments| 5,968 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The reading experience on the Paperwhite is excellent. The Paperwhite is much more enjoyable to use than the Kindle Touch or the Kindle Keyboard, thanks mostly to the display (more on that below). The Home button from the Touch has been removed, and you now navigate to the menus by touching the top of the screen. Like the Touch, there are no physical page turn buttons. If you want to advance the page, you either swipe, or press the middle/right hand side of the screen (most of the display area is set up to advance the page). To go back a page, you press anywhere on the left 20% of the screen. To access the menu, you press the top 10% of the screen. Contrast for the display can quickly and easily be adjusted with two taps, so it can be brightened or darkened without a lot of menu navigation. There are still eight font sizes like previous generations had, but instead of just three typefaces, you now have six (Baskerville, Caecilia, Caecilia Condensed, Publisher Font, Futura, Helvetica, and Palatino). Publisher Font lets you use the book publisher's embedded font. None of the books I have tried out yet have this option, but I can see how it can provide them with a lot more flexibility. The additional fonts, along with the ability to adjust line spacing and margins, make it much easier to read books that a publisher formats poorly to begin with (as anyone who struggled with the early edition of 'Game of Thrones' can attest to).

The menu system is a bit improved over the Touch. Instead of the basic list display for your books, Paperwhite now includes a graphical display of your book covers (like the Kindle Fire) in addition to the traditional list view. Unfortunately, it will only display three books covers, because the second row of covers are reserved for covers of Amazon book recommendations. It's clear that Amazon wants to use the Paperwhite to market their products more. Cloud integration is very easy as well. If you have more than 1,000 books, just store some on your free Amazon Cloud drive. Downloading them to the device is very quick and simple. The Paperwhite comes with Kindle Collections which allows you to organize and store your books more easily and put them into genres or collections by author/subject, however the way collections are displayed could be improved, since a list display will still show the individual books on the list, even after you move them into a collection. Ideally, I think it should work like a file system, where you sort them into a collection and then those books will only display when you open that collection folder.

This is where the Paperwhite really shines. The display is absolutely beautiful. I never had a problem with the display on any of my previous kindles, and always thought there wasn't much room for improvement, but you can really tell a difference when looking at the two side by side. Kindles all use E-Ink displays to mimic printed text. The Paperwhite has an improved e-ink display, which is sharper, has improved contrast and resolution, and uses front-lit technology with its built-in light. Images look much sharper, which shouldn't matter too much since most people don't use their kindles for images, but the text looks better as well. The resolution has increased from 167 pixels per inch (PPI) and 600x800 resolution on all previous models to 221 PPI and 768 x 1024 on the Paperwhite.

The lighting is nothing like a traditional back lit screen (like you would see on the iPad or Nook). It is very even and doesn't hurt your eyes at all. I could stare at the display for hours as easily as reading a book. Reading in bright sunshine is no problem and even improved over the Touch. There are four small led lights underneath the bezel at the bottom, which carry light through a grid built into the display. This allows for very even lighting, as opposed to using a clamp on light that directs light to one area, and then spills down to the rest. There are 24 different light levels so it is very customizable, and you can change the level very quickly without having to spend a lot of time going through menus. So the great thing is, you don't need to order a separate light for your Kindle. Unless I am outside or in a bright room, I always use the Amazon cover with built in light for my Touch, which I would prefer not to do, because it adds weight to the device and doesn't feel as comfortable as holding a bare kindle without a cover. With Paperwhite, the screen is uniform and easy to read. It may sound like the glow could get annoying, but it is very pleasing to the eyes and easy to read from. It soft enough that you can read in bed with a partner and not disturb them at all (with my Touch I had to make sure I slept on the left side of the bed (the direction the light faced) because the led would blind the person on the right). I cannot emphasize enough how brilliant the screen is and encourage you to find a display model to look at if you're on the fence about it. I've used the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Paperwhite display blows it out of the water. The only problem with it, is that there are four thumbnail-sized shadows at the bottom of the display where the led lights sit. They are not very dark, but they are noticeable at first and prevent perfect uniformity. I learned to ignore them after a few minutes. There is also one area on the top menu that does not completely blend into the background when you bring the menu up. Not a big deal but it is a small glitch.

The Paperwhite is a tiny bit smaller and thinner than the Touch, but not by too much. Users of the Touch should not have any problems, but if you're coming from the Kindle Keyboard, it will probably feel a bit awkward to hold it with one hand for awhile, because you don't have as much surface to grip since you can't touch the screen. To understand what I'm talking about, try holding a paperback book in one hand, but only let your hand touch the outer 3/4" of the front of it. You can see in the ads and videos that users are just barely gripping the outside of the Paperwhite so their hand doesn't get in the way of the screen. This is actually a fairly awkward way to hold the Kindle for any significant length of time, as users of the Touch may recall (I can guarantee you that girl laying on the ground reading and just barely holding onto the corner with her thumb did not hold it that way for long). You eventually get used to it, but you still have to shift your hand every once in awhile because it gets uncomfortable. I think the perfect way for me to hold it is to cup your hand like you're holding a mug of beer, and let the kindle rest on your pinky finger like an easel.

The Paperwhite also now has a rubberized back (like the Kindle Fire) compared to the smoother back of the Touch. With the Touch, you had to rely on your palm and thumb to support it. With the Paperwhite, your fingers don't slide off so easily and can assist to support the back. Although this sounds like a small issue, anyone who has tried to hold a Touch with one hand for more than 30 minutes will appreciate this. So it's easier to hold over the Touch, but the Kindle Keyboard is still the most comfortable to grip.

Two more great additions to the form factor - since it no longer has an IR light built into it, the depth of the bezel is half the size. This makes for a smoother transition to the display, collects less dirt, and looks better. Lastly, the display screen feels different than any previous kindles. It has a very slight textured surface (almost like the page of a book) to it instead of being completely smooth. It is hard to describe, but it is much more pleasurable to the touch than the previous Kindle Touch, and swiping is more pleasant.

Kindle Paperwhite now has a capacitive touch screen. This is almost worth the upgrade alone. The Touch used an IR-based touch screen, so it would register any movement as a touch, even if it wasn't from your body. I would frequently be reading in bed and move to get more comfortable, and the sheets would hit the display and cause it to skip to the next chapter. So then I would have to bring up the menu and go back. I was always careful about closing the cover when I moved to prevent an accidental "touch." I've always been very satisfied with the speed of the page turns on the Touch and never had a problem with it, but this has improved as well, and page turns now register a bit quicker. It is too quick for me to measure the increase, but I think most people will see a noticeable change in response and appreciate it. It is very easy to type with the built in keyboard, so you can easily search for phrases or navigate to something specific in the book. Flipping pages is very quick and page turns are almost instant. Instead of having to move my finger to swipe or tap into a page turn, I rest my thumb right against the bezel, and when I want to turn a page, I just shift it very slightly so it touches the screen.

I haven't been able to run reliable testing on the battery, but Amazon's claim of 8 weeks battery (using for 30 minutes a day) even with the light on seems to me to likely be fairly accurate given my limited use of it. Even previous Kindle generations have had amazing batteries so this has never been a problem for me in the past.

The Kindle Touch came with some new features, but I never really used any of them too much. Paperwhite has several new features that make reading a more interactive experience (if you want it to be):
- BUILT IN DICTIONARY - Long press a word for about 2 seconds and you get an instant definition. I use this feature all the time and it is one of my favorite advantages of the Kindle over a traditional book.
- TIME TO READ - By far my favorite new feature. Previous kindles provide a percentage or a visual indicator of how long a book is. Paperwhite still does that, but also tells you how many hours/minutes you have to finish a book or a chapter, by calculating your average reading speed, and constantly adjusting it. I do not know if it calculates this amount based on the number of pages in a book or the number of words, but it proved to be incredibly accurate, and I had to stop looking at it because I found myself trying to "beat" it. A very fun feature and fairly useful for deciding if you have time to finish a new chapter while waiting for your plane to board or before going to bed. You can just tap it and it will switch to the percentage + the confusing "location" view instead. Some books will display Real Page Numbers to show you the actual page number that would correspond with a physical book, but none of mine had this feature built in.
- EXPERIMENTAL BROWSER - Kindle's "experimental" web browser is back, and is a little bit improved due to the higher resolution, but I still wouldn't want to use it for graphical-heavy sites. I'm not sure how fast the 3g browser will be but the wi-fi version was decent enough that I could use it in a pinch.
- SOCIAL FEATURES - Like the Touch, the Paperwhite has integration with Twitter and Facebook, so you can let people know when you're done with a book, or share favorite passages. I can see how some people might like this, but I would much rather have integration with Shelfari so I can update my account once I've finished a book and rate it. This is Amazon's own service so it seems like they are missing a huge opportunity here to promote it. Paperwhite also lets you leave a rating when you've finished a book. I have no idea what this rating is for or where it goes, but it would be great if you integrated this into product pages and had a "kindle rating" where they aggregated all of the ratings left by kindle users. This would allow people to leave a rating without having to write a long-winded (ahem) review and would also contain only ratings by people who had purchased the book. Probably unnecessary but I really think they could do more with the social features to make them useful.
- X-Ray - One of the best features IF your kindle book comes with it. It's like a built-in wiki for your book, and you can call it up at any time to learn more about people, places, and subjects in your book. My current book has 684 characters, and this is great for keeping track of who everyone is.
- WHISPERSYNC - I have a Kindle Fire, Touch, Keyboard, Kindle for PC, and Kindle Cloud Drive, and Whispersync works fairly well to sync all of my books across all devices. If I pick up my Fire to read a few chapters, I want to be able to start at the same place when I pick up the Paperwhite. Syncing is mostly accurate but sometimes it doesn't register on one of my devices for some reason.
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Amazon has announced this new feature that lets you view biographical information about the author and character summaries at the end of the book, much like a real book. None of my books had this feature yet, but it seems like a great idea to add value to Kindle books.

I buy a cover for all of my kindles, mostly to use the built-in light, but the covers add bulk and make it difficult to carry one in a pocket, as well as adding weight to it which makes holding it for long periods a bit frustrating. Amazon's official cover is the Paperwhite Leather Cover), but with the Paperwhite display, I won't be using the cover unless I travel with the kindle. This makes it much easier to hold and feels less like I'm holding a tablet in my hands. The Paperwhite isn't scratch-proof, but it definitely is a bit more rugged than the Touch and I don't think most people will even need a cover for it. I do like the cover better than the official one Amazon produced for the Touch, and you can read my full review of it on the page for the Paperwhite Leather Cover).

- Probably the biggest con for most people, is that the Mp3 player and all audio features have been completely removed. The main purpose of this device is to read books, so I don't fault Amazon for that decision, but I did enjoy cueing up some light classical music occasionally on my Touch and Kindle Keyboard right before bed. This of course means that there is no more text to speech playback of books or integration with audio books. As such, they have dropped the onboard memory to 2GB (about 1,000 books). With integration to Amazon's Cloud service, this should be more than enough for book storage.
- I love the matte finish on the back of the device, but it does get a bit smudgy from my fingers and You can't really wipe them off without a wet cleaner. The smudging isn't so noticeable that it would bother me though.
- Slight shadowing at the bottom of the device from the LED lights.
- I also actually wish the bezel on the right side was slightly wider and offset a bit. Of course, this wouldn't help left-handed people, but it would make it a little bit easier to hold without having your hand block the screen at all. If you don't use a heavy cover on it, this also shouldn't really be a problem.
- No Power adapter. It comes with a micro-usb charging cable, but you have to have a computer or already own a power adapter from another product to be able to charge it. Amazon did this with the Touch as well and I think it is absolutely ridiculous. I know Amazon wants to charge separately for this but I think not including one is really greedy. If you need one, you may want to buy the Kindle Power Adapter although I'm sure you could probably find a much cheaper one somewhere.
- No Shelfari integration as mentioned above.

In my review of the Kindle Touch, I said that while it was a nice device, I didn't feel like it warranted an upgrade for users of 2nd and 3rd generation kindles. The Kindle Paperwhite is definitely upgrade-worthy for all previous kindle users who read more than a few books a year. A stunning display, better touch sensitivity, and software features that Amazon should have come out with years ago, finally make the Kindle the undisputed leader in the e-reader market. Previously I would go back and forth between my Kindle Touch and Fire when reading books, but the Paperwhite is such a pleasure to use that I can't imagine ever choosing the Fire over it again. If you are an avid reader and have never purchased a Kindle before, the Paperwhite will really give you an appreciation for how far these devices have come.
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[0:00] - day.. - Kindle, Paperwhite, Keyboard, Touch - side by side
[0:17] - day.. - Paperwhite - brightness control, page turning
[0:47] - night - Touch, Paperwhite, Keyboard - side by side
[1:00] - night - Paperwhite - zoom to bottom of screen
[1:18] - night - Paperwhite, Keyboard - side by side
[1:22] - night - Paperwhite, Touch - side by side
[1:28] - night - Paperwhite - zoom in, zoom out

NOTE 1: This is not a stand-alone video review. I added the video to illustrate some of the answers in the FAQ section below. References are made by providing the time where the video illustrates a particular answer.

NOTE 2: My initial rating was a 5 stars but I am changing it at least temporarily to 3 stars because some of my friends who bought Paperwhites had to return or are returning theirs for a replacement due to display quality issues ranging from minor to serious or seriously annoying. I suspect and I hope that it's only a temporary quality control slip due to the rush to mass-produce in order to meet the initial high demand. If it turns out to be so and everyone who received a not-so-good product receives a good quality replacement then my rating goes back up to where it started but only time will tell.

NOTE 3: I noticed several comments to this reviews, complaining that I arrived at my current 3-stars rating based on hearsay. This is not the case - see next paragraph which has been there since the very beginning "after seeing what some of my friends received". I had the opportunity to use their devices myself and compare my unit with theirs and found that they had good reasons to ask for replacements. Another complaint is that 3 stars is a 'negative' rating. It is not. Amazon suggests that '3 stars' stands for "It's Okay". I can't see how "Okay" could be viewed as a negative. According to Merriam-Webster online, OK stands for: approval, endorsement.

Meanwhile, my Paperwhite continues to be a fantastic reader and, certain marketing exaggerations and embellishments notwithstanding, I am unaware of a better product in this category. I would still rate my unit a 5 stars but I can't bury my head in the sand and ignore that fact that not everyone is happy with what they got because I actually saw their Kindles, not pictures or videos, and they don't look nearly as good as mine. I only hope and wish that 'luck' doesn't play a big part in getting a great product. Knowing what I know now and after seeing what some of my friends received I would still gamble and order a Paperwhite if I wanted a new reader because Amazon is very good at replacing defective products quickly and returns of defective products are free - no restocking fees - so the risk of paying for and then being stuck with a bad product or a product you don't like is practically nil.

The Kindle readers, not the Fire tablets are in my view Amazon's truly innovative product. The Paperwhite extraordinary display ensures that Amazon will continue to lead when it comes to readers. We've been using Kindles ever since the Kindle 3 a.k.a. the Kindle Keyboard. Besides the Keyboard model we also own a Kindle Touch and a 'plain' Kindle (no keyboard, no touch). When compared to the previous models the Paperwhite is a big leap forward not only because it eliminates the need of a lamp when reading at night but the display is brighter with a better contrast during the day and it's significantly sharper always.

The Paperwhite incorporates and improves on the best features of its predecessors. It's lighter, the touch controls are more responsive, the battery life I am told is still measured in 'weeks' or even months rather than 'hours' and, with one exception, all of the Kindle's e-reader frills are supported: borrowing, all the social features, Whispersync and the new X-Ray.

One notable missing capability is 'speakers'. I am not trying to be an Amazon apologist but I actually don't mind 'no speakers'. Not only because I've only used them once on my Kindle Keyboard but their absence allows for the e-reader to be smaller and lighter and it probably allows Amazon to sell the Paperwhite for a lower price. Besides, there are so many alternative ways to have your book read to you from any of the Kindle apps available for phones and tablets. After all, Paperwhite's strength is its screen and throwing in 2 little speakers would not have added much value. I use the Kindle readers, the Paperwhite included as 'books' and most books (some children books maybe the exception) don't read themselves.

I put together this FAQ to record my experience with Amazon's new reader. I will add to it if there is sufficient interest and expanded with answer to whatever questions may be asked in the Comments section.

[By the way, this may very well be my first 5-star review of a Kindle product (see NOTE 2). I remember rating the Kindle Fire as a 3 stars and the Kindle Keyboard as a 4 stars.]


Q: How does the Paperwhite compare with previous models?
A: The Papwerwhite is a one button, touch screen, keyboardless, speakerless e-reader featuring Amazon's new and quite spectacular Paperwhite display. The video shows [0:00] from left to right the Kindle, the Paperwhite, the Kindle Keyboard and the Kindle Touch next to each other.

Q: What exactly is 'paperwhite'?
A: From what I've seen so far, the technology allows for LED-produced light to distribute almost evenly across the reading surface. This makes the display brighter during the day and eliminates the need of a lamp at night.

Q: How bright is Paperwhite?
A: It's just about as bright as you want it to be [0:17]. There is a sliding scale that allows you to easily select your preferred level from almost 'off' to a level of brightness that hurt my eyes with 24 levels in-between.

Q: In what way is 'paperwhite' better than a tablet's hi-res display?
A: Tablets screens are backlit. Backlit screens are generally difficult to read outdoors and tend to cause eyestrain if read at night. The Paperwhite display reflects daylight and the light generated by Kindle's 4 LEDs the same way paper does and this is good for reading. Books can be read without difficulty outdoors even during a bright sunny day as well as at night.

Q: Is the Paperwhite display better than the previous Kindles?
A: Yes. The resolution is higher, the background can be set to your preferred level of white and the text appears to be darker [0:17].

Q: Is the light evenly distributed on the screen?
A: By and large yes and it's a significant improvement over what you get off an LED reading light [0:47]. At night or when reading in a dark room, 4 small, slightly darker spots - invisible under daylight - can be noticed at the very bottom of the screen [1:00].

Q: Is the Paperwhite display larger than that of previous Kindles?
A: No. Paperwhite's display is the exact same 6" size as that of previous Kindle e-readers.

Q: Is Paperwhite's page turning faster than on previous models?
A: Yes, page turning is significantly faster [0:30].

Q: Does the Kindle Paperwhite come with speakers or an audio out port?
A: No.

Q: How much storage (memory) is available on the Paperwhite?
A: 2 GB but only 1.25 GB are available for storing content.

Q: Is there a MicroSD slot or any other memory expansion?
A: No.

Q: Is a charger included?
A: No, but like all Kindle e-readers, the Paperwhite can be easily and quickly charged off a laptop or most generic or branded USB chargers.

Q: Is a charging/data cable included?
A: Yes, a white Type A to Micro-B USB cable is in the box.

Q: Can you confirm Amazon's claim that the battery life on the Paperwhite is "8 weeks" if Wi-Fi is off.
A: It depends. If you go by Amazon's definition: use it for half an hour daily at brightness level 10, then probably 'yes'. In practice, on full charge lasted 23 days with the Paperwhite on for 1-2 hours daily and a brightness level of 12 and with the Wi-Fi off for all but 30 minutes.

Q: How easy/difficult was it to set up the Wi-Fi connection? And how do you turn it off?
A: Individual experiences may vary but my Kindle immediately detected our home network, prompted me for a password and once I entered it it connected. You turn Wi-Fi off by turning on "Airplane mode".

Q: Does it come with a manual?
A: No but there is a very good interactive tutorial that shows you everything this Kindle can do, from setting up the level of brightness to shopping or borrowing to X-Ray.

Q: Are there any physical buttons?
A: There is only one On/Off button. All other controls, including page turning are through touch.

Q: How much does it weigh?
A: Less than 8 ounces.

Q: I don't like touching the screen with my fingers. Can I use a stylus?
A: Yes, the new screen can be used with a capacitive stylus.

Q: Is the Kindle Paperwhite confined to Amazon's content?
A: No. You can upload non-DRMed content, including MOBI book files. Kindle does not support EPUB but there are very good free EPUB to MOBI converter apps. See the first comment to this review on how to get Calibre, the best free EPUB to MOBI converter.

Q: How is content delivered to the Paperwhite?
A: Content can be uploaded either through Wi-Fi (or 3G) or or through the USB port.

Q: Do I need to backup my Kindle?
A: In the event of a disaster all Amazon-purchased content can be retrieved from Amazon's cloud but if you uploaded non-Amazon content to your Kindle it's your responsibility to back it up.

Q: What new features are supported by the Kindle Paperwhite.
A: One new feature supported by this model is X-Ray which helps tracking a book's characters. This model also can estimate how long it would take you to finish the book you are reading.

Q: Should I buy a cover for my Paperwhite?
A: I did. Amazon sells its own Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover and it's far from 'cheap' but my past experience with covers for our other 3 Kindle readers is that Amazon's is a well designed, functional, quality product that will protect your Kindle and will most likely outlive it.

Q: Should I pay a little extra for an 'ads free' model?
A: I personally would not. The Kindle never shows ads while in the process of reading a book. Ads only appear as the 'screen saver' when the Kindle goes to sleep or on a narrow strip at the bottom on the screen when not actually reading a book.

Q: Should I pay more for a 3G model?
A: Only if you can easily afford it. I've never bought a 3G Kindle and I never missed it. Wi-Fi is good enough because books are rarely impulse buys and a Wi-Fi hot spot or a laptop with an USB port tend to be only minutes or at worst hours away.

Q: Should I consider buying the Keyboard model?
A: The Keyboard model does not have the Paperwhite display. I've been using a Kindle Keyboard reader ever since its launch date a couple of years ago and I don't believe I used the keyboard more than half a dozen times. A keyboard is a nice thing to have but a on-screen keyboard is good enough for me.

Q: What if the Paperwhite does not meet my expectations. Can I return it?
A: Yes. You may return it within 30 days of delivery date for a full refund. Amazon pays for shipping it back if you are returning a defective item but you will pay if you return it because you changed your mind or didn't like it. Last time I returned a small gadget about the size of a Kindle the shipping charge was about $3. I received the refund 2 or 3 days after Amazon received the package.

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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 1, 2012
Here is a quick video I shot of the new Kindle Paperwhite in action. I attempted to show what the glow screen looks like and address the comments about the LED lights at the bottom. In my opinion, it's no big deal, but hopefully you can get an idea of what some folks have mentioned. The screen is super clear and SUPER bright! I also like the feel of the new screen, it seems to have a somewhat rough texture and truly almost feels like paper.
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on October 15, 2012
First - Amazons Customer Service is amazing. I was sent two replacements after having issues with the first.

Unfortunately, ALL three had the same issue - pink/green/blue hues over varying locations of the screen. I'm not talking about the "cones of light" at the bottom (which aren't bothersome) - these are clearly visible hues of blue/green/pink which comprise the entire screen, and are present from about 10 all the way up to 24 (in a lit room).

Literally one sentence may be illuminated behind a background that starts out blue then turns to pink. It's very distracting, especially coming from the Nook Glow which didn't have this issue.

This IS a 5* device, but the problem is so distracting it takes you out of the book..and no matter how good the cover/software are (they're great BTW) - that's a fatal flaw.

I'm still within the return period, and frankly I'm struggling if I should keep this or not. I'm concerned that once this problem is fixed, will those of us with bruised units be allowed to exchange it for the "paperwhite" we paid for?

Edit -

I really feel bad for having to give this device a 1* review. The review I wanted to write addressed how nice having cover view is, how solid and well built the device feels, how spectacular the cover complements it and how worthwhile getting special offers removed was..because the "swipe to unlock" screen is gone, and you're brought straight into the book once the opened cover awakens the device. Quick and easy.

I don't think the blue/green/pink hues necessarily justify a reason for the device to get reduced to 1* - but for the sake of alerting Amazon to the problem (and having seen three units with the same issues, + numerous pics from the mobile read forums), it feels justified - until Amazon takes further action to correct the problem.

Edit (Oct. 16) - I received a very nice phone call from an Amazon employee today. They offered to either let me return this unit, exchange it for another (which would be my fourth), or make a note on my account and in a few months once the issues are resolved, let me exchange it for a proper unit. She reminded me about the one year warranty, and clarified that it would be covered under the defect clause, anyway.

I'm satisfied.

However, this will remain a 1* review so people who sort it will be aware of the problems. I'll update it once I have a proper unit in my hands.
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UPDATE: 10/15/2012 - A very interesting thing occurred a couple days ago. I received a phone call from Amazon and the person calling wanted to speak with me about my review of the Paperwhite. He thanked me for my candid but honest and fair opinion of the Paperwhite and said that Amazon appreciates the feedback. He assured me that he would try to get my comments of the Paperwhite into the proper channel at Amazon where they would be considered. He didn't really offer any solution for me other than to agree that my observations were fair. This was a completely weird phone call. But the bottom line is that Amazon is now acknowledging that the display is not perfect and are now calling the issues I mention "normal." Of course, it would have been nice to know before I ordered the Kindle Paperwhite that the issues I discovered upon receiving it were going to be there.

As it turns out, it took a huge backlash from customers before Amazon made some changes to the product page. Now Amazon has added a new section to the product description page to mention the hot spots (my wording) at the bottom of the screen. This new section is titled, "We Want You To Know" and includes a link to a page that discusses the lack of Text to Speech on the Paperwhite, the reduction in memory from 4GB to 2GB and the biggie, how the lighting is going to look in various lighting situations. They've even included photos. So while I applaud Amazon for acknowledging this now, it doesn't really help those of us who bought the Kindle Paperwhite expecting a "perfect reading experience" but received something other than that. This is great for anyone considering a Paperwhite now, but this information was not there for the first two weeks after the Paperwhite was introduced.

And now, back to my original review.


When I first heard about the Paperwhite I knew that I would have to get one. I placed my pre-order the first week of September. Apparently the orders are backed up now so that you won't be able to receive one from Amazon, if ordered today (10/1/2012) until the end of October.

Now that I've had my Paperwhite for almost a week, I'm really experiencing mixed feelings. Since the biggest feature being touted is the new display, I feel the Paperwhite should be judged most strongly on that display. And in some regards the display is a big disappointment.

Please look closely at the beginning 2-minutes of my video. Notice the hot spots at the bottom of the screen and then notice how splotchy the display is. It's very easy to see. You will possibly notice that the screen has some finger-caused smudging... that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about an underlying splotchiness of the display itself. The only viewing situation where the hot-spots are not visible at all is when I have my Kindle outside in substantial light, or in an extremely bright interior room. Otherwise the hot-spots are always visible. The less ambient light there is, the more pronounced the hot-spots appear. I have also uploaded a customer image to the product page gallery that demonstrates the hot-spots, splotchiness and image retention.

In other regards the lit display is great since it now allows you to use your Kindle in dark rooms without having to worry about attaching some sort of auxiliary lighting to it. I do feel that Amazon has mis-represented the quality of the display in it's images that show the new display. I also feel that there is some exaggerated gushing about this display technology. From the over-zealous reviews, yo'd think this was some kind of incredible display with unparalleled clarity, brightness and legibility. It's not all that. It's better than a non-lit display but it comes with its own issues, I'm just being honest and trying to distance myself from all the hype and present a more objective viewpoint.

Let me delve into more specifics....

I've owned just about every version of the Kindle except for the Fire. I currently have a Kindle Keyboard 3G, the New Kindle and now the Kindle Paperwhite. I use them just about every day and I've never had any issues or complaints with the readability of the screen. The only thing that really could have been improved for me was including a built-in light and that is exactly what the Kindle Paperwhite offers. The issue I have is that the display lighting is not as perfect as other reviews would lead you to believe. My video clearly shows the issues with the Paperwhite display. Having said that, it is a display that you are now able to use in the dark without a bulky, external LCD light attachment of some sort,

The Paperwhite is easier to read because of the lighter colored background, but it is certainly not white and not even close to white at lower lighting levels. The always-on light, contrast control and improved font rendering do make the screen more legible, but it's mostly the light. When I compare the sharpness of the fonts compared to my New Kindle, there is not much perceptible difference except for the light aspect. There are 6-hand-tuned font styles with 8 sizes available.

Regarding the contrast of the display; It is my impression that in outdoor situations where there is an abundance of natural light, the contrast is superb. Inside reading is a different story. To my eyes, contrast is not as improved. The text actually seems to lose that crispness and blackness that I observe when outside with the Paperwhite. Inside the text seems more gray-ish and less distinct. This also degrades as you reduce the brightness of the display.

The increased resolution which is touted (62% more pixels) is only slightly noticeable to me when viewing photographs. Photographs do seem a bit better but not by much. I do not really notice much difference with the text however and I've looked at the Paperwhite and my Kindle Keyboard side by side to compare the two. Increased resolution just doesn't jump out at me.

The screen is also minimally textured which helps reduce the inevitable smudges you'll get and makes it practically glare-free. One of the things I really enjoy with the Kindle is the glare-free screen.

The big feature then is that you can now read your Kindle in the dark, in bed, dimly lit areas, without having a bulky, clumsy LED light attached to your cover or Kindle. The built-in light is far from perfect though. At the bottom of the screen are 4 distinct "hot spots" where the LED is located. Next to each hot spot is a darker, shawdowy area. Once you move up the screen about 1/2 inch the hot spots disappear but the rest of the screen is splotchy and not uniformly lit. The light is actually on all the time which seems unnecessary at first but you soon realize that the reason the legibility of the screen is improved is because of that fact. You can control the brightness of the light which is great but the Amazon recommendations of light level for dim rooms is way off target. I find that I need to increase the brightness to at least 10 for adequate brightness for me to read comfortably.

Even with the hot-spot areas, the lighting is superior to any other non-backlit e-reader that I've seen to date.

The Paperwhite has an improved touch screen. Gone is the home button and 5-way rocker switch that I was accustomed to on the New Kindle. The only button is now a tiny on/off button on the front edge of the Kindle Paperwhite... everything else is controlled by the more responsive touchscreen. Pages can be flipped by swiping at the screen with your finger, or by touching in the designated tap-zones. The page turns aren't as snappy as my iPhone for instance but I don't have any issues with the speed and they do turn quite quickly, more quickly than the Keyboard or New Kindle that I also own. The top part of the screen is touched to access the menus. Touching and holding on a word pulls up the over 250,000 word dictionary.

You can also pinch and expand on the screen with your fingers to make a pdf, for instance, display larger or smaller

I've always loved that you can email yourself documents to store and read on the Kindle using your Kindle email address and that is still true with the Paperwhite. It's still easy to hold the Kindle with one hand and this new KIndle is light in weight which makes for fatigue-free reading.

Some people will be disappointed that there is no text-to-speech capability with the Paperwhite. There is no audio capability at all with this new Kindle. But for many others, this will pose no problem at all. For me, this is not a huge loss since I have only used text to speech once on my New Kindle. I find the voice robotic and not something I could ever listen to for any length of time. Yet people with vision impairment will miss that capability. I would not be surprised for there to be another Kindle coming along some day that has the Paperwhite screen and also has audio capability, but for now, we'll have to wait.

As with other recent Kindle models, there is no AC Adapter included with the Kindle Paperwhite. Instead a USB cable is provided and that will charge your Kindle from any AC/USB charger or from a powered USB port on your laptop, etc. I don't view the lack of an AC Adapter a big deal as you can either buy an inexpensive AC charger or just use an available USB port. I've got so many devices that use USB power that I already have USB chargers and I imagine many people would be in a similar situation.

The Paperwhite has 2 GB of memory with only 1.3 GB of that available to the user. That is really not a negative unless you don't have occasional Wi-Fi access to enable you to download items from the cloud that Amazon provides Kindle users. Since Amazon stores all your purchases in the cloud, you can download your books or archive them at will. I have never had any problem with "only" having more limited memory on any of my Kindles. I don't even think about it. 1.3 GB can store a huge number of books.

The sponsored ads version of the Paperwhite is just what I've been accustomed to with the Kindle. The ads only appear when the Kindle screensaver is active, or when you are not reading a book but simply in the bottom of the home screen. Ads NEVER interrupt you when you are reading. I've gotten some really good deals via the ads so I'm not complaining at all about the ads. Yesterday I got a "free" $5 digital download credit for a digital purchase from Amazon because of an offer from the sponsored screensaver.

Another really helpful feature is "Time to Read." The Kindle learns your reading rate and then displays an estimate of how long it will take you to finish a chapter. This is actually kind of handy to know if you just hate to put a book down mid-chapter. In my limited use of it so far, it's quite accurate.

For Kindle owners who are concerned about the lack of parental controls on previous versions of the Kindle, that has all changed. Not long ago, Amazon introduced new software that enables parental controls. This is something you can upgrade your previous Kindle with and comes already built-in with the new Kindle Paperwhite. I'm very happy to see that parental controls are now a feature of the Kindle and will enable you to restrict access to the experimental browser and Amazon Store.

I've not had the Paperwhtie long enough yet to evaluate the battery life or the time required for charging. I'll be updating my review soon to report on those things plus add any other insights I gain.

UPDATE: 10/10/2012: Battery life is pretty darn good considering that the light is pretty much on all the time but at different intensities depending on the ambient light. However I have ultimately decided to sell my Kindle Paperwhite or return it. The display just isn't right and Amazon has really mis-represented the display. Some people won't be bothered by it but I think many will. It's kind of like an LCD panel that has a few dead pixels on it. Some people could care less, but I'd return it in a heartbeat. It's ultimately up to you to decide if you think the display lives up to it's billing by Amazon as providing a "perfect reading experience in all lighting conditions" and "perfectly even distribution of light." I think it's unmistakably obvious, by my video and the videos and photos by others, that the display is far from perfect and therefore is being misrepresented.
review image
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on December 31, 2012
I upgraded from a Kindle Keyboard to the Kindle Paperwhite. The thing I love most about this is being able to read in any light. I also love the way the back feels, sort of rubberized I guess. The size feels comfortable in my hand and I love having the touchscreen. I don't accidentally turn the page like I did on my other Kindle. I loved my Kindle Keyboard but this is a great upgrade.
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on October 7, 2012
After using the new Kindle for almost a full week I must say it really is fantastic.
at first look at it out of the box, I will admit I was shocked like most people. What are these "blotches,smudges, etc?". But with all things some people expect perfection at first glance, while others like me know you need to "tweak" things to your liking....

I think the more people realize this, they will find that the Paperwhite is not as flawed as they make it seem. First off ignore the "direction" on how to use your light. The "turn up in bright light, down in dim" rule needs to be removed, it is here that people will find the disappointment. What you need to do is adjust the light to the lighting in the room you are in, to the point you really don't notice the lighting at all. When the lighting on screen and in room merge together evenly you will find Paperwhite bliss. Clear,concise, crisp text on screen, no "smudges" on the lower half, no pink/blue tints nothing but your words staring back at you. Even in complete darkness you will be able to find this sweet spot of light setting, where you can see your text nice and clear and even the "smudges" are invisible.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely, but the Kindle Paperwhite is currently the best ereader out there hands down. It works flawlessly, page turns are fast, lighting when used properly is amazing. I have owned all the Kindle versions and this by far is the biggest leap forward of any of them.

Spend more than five minutes with your new Kindle, play with your light settings, and just read more before writing your review, I think if you do that you will really see the joy of this newest version of the greatest ereader on the market.
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on November 30, 2012
I was a little nervous when I saw the negative reviews for the Kindle Paperwhite after asking for it for my birthday. This is the most critcism I have seen of any Kindle product to date. The unusually large number of people finding fault with this product concerned me, but I have happily found that the positive reviews were more accurate.

I will not claim that 100% of these Kindle's will work perfectly out of the box. But defective units are entirely possible when a company must ship its product to thousands of customers. It's basically the "broken straight out of the box" statistic, which even large successful companies like Dell have to account for. Haven't you ever seen how UPS and FedEx guys treat packages? It's bound to happen that careless employees really abuse packages on route. Let's just ignore the amount of people that hate this product because they were the unlucky person to fall into this, very often occurring, fact of life for any technological gadget that is shipped en masse to its customers.

Of course, I had to put these disclaimers here to counter all the negative reviews I've read for the Paperwhite. Now we can get to the review.

My last Kindle was the Kindle 3, now called the Kindle keyboard. I went with this upgrade because after several years of faithful service, my Kindle 3 is losing its ability to hold a charge. Since the Paperwhite was the newest Kindle, it's the one I went with.

I am completely satisfied with this product. I like that I can adjust the LED lights to the local lighting conditions of the room. (edit: the Paperwhite does not allow for the LED lights to be turned completely off). I personally do not find it any more challenging to read than my Kindle 3 was. The light does not distract me from what I'm attempting to do: enjoy a book.

Notably, this Kindle has less storage space than my Kindle 3. Amazon decided this was feasible because this model offers Cloud storage. Being an older person, I've not gone nuts over Cloud services as everyone else seems to have. I like to have things locally stored instead of using Cloud services. I realize I'm behind the curve on this one. At any rate, the Paperwhite would easily hold 1,000 books (I believe). This should be suitable for most people.

Other critics have noted that the only way to turn WiFi off is to turn "Airplane Mode" on. So what? Once you know this, is it hard to do? No. It isn't. I always leave WiFi off to conserve the battery life. I only turn it on for brief occasions when Amazon is delivering something to my Kindle.

The Paperwhite is significantly lighter than my earlier Kindle 3 setup, but this is partially because I have not added a book cover to the unit, instead opting for a graphic sticker skin and a zip carry case for the Paperwhite. Depending on the case and cover you use, don't count on this being substantially lighter than your previous e-readers.

I never had a Kindle Touch, but I like the touch screen set up. It's easier to use than my Kindle Keyboard setup. Looking up words I don't know is much easier with the touch screen. I really enjoy the dictionary feature.

I also want to address how many people seem enraged that Amazon is advertising to them even when they pay the extra $25 to have ads removed. This is no longer true. Amazon released on update that allows you to turn the "Amazon suggestions" off in the settings. I read from other reviews that this problem had more to do with the "cover" view, I myself prefer the "List" view for my books over the graphic covers, and I don't see any portion of my screen devoted to ad spam.

I will say that these LED lights may not be for everyone, and clearly we know this from the rampant activism that people seem to be so much more gung-ho about than they are about protesting major American wars. All of this falls into the category of things that Americans get completely pissed off about that don't really seem to matter. And I'm not saying this as a European; I was born and raised in Iowa.

I am completely satisfied with this product. Don't just take my word for it, read more 5 star reviews, read a few 3 star reviews, and look over some of the really negative reviews. You're just going to have to approximate who has valid concerns and who's just venting. I'm glad I chanced getting this product. It's my favorite Kindle to date (admittedly only the 2nd e-reader I've owned).

Interface: 4 out of 5
New Light Feature: 5 out of 5
Storage space: acceptable

-less storage space than earlier models
-the light does not turn completely off (I don't mind, others do)
-I will admit that it seems like many more people (than average) are having to return defective units on their first try. Amazon seems completely willing to replace defective units, but I understand why this would annoy Kindle fans

edit 12/1/12: I have edited this review to account for some feedback I received after posting it. I did this in the interest of giving a more accurate review that can be read easily and without the need to add 4 additional "edit" comments at the end of the review. My interest was presenting the review points accurately the first time around, so that readers wouldn't have to read counter-edits that contradict the main text of my review. I am appreciative of Amazon customers who have taken the time to correct some of my mistakes (such as not realizing that the later editions of the Paperwhite had already fixed the ad spam issue).

*also--thanks for reading my review. I naturally assumed my review will get buried because there are thousands of them.
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