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Pre-release Review of Kindle Paperwhite


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Initial post: Sep 11, 2012 11:02:13 AM PDT
Yes, I know the Kindle Paperwhite has not begun shipping yet, and no, I'm not special enough to have received one prior to release. However, I did follow the launch news carefully and have done enough research to provide what I hope is a helpful pre-release review of the new Kindle eReaders.

First, the obvious benefits:

1. Lighted display. Simply put, this is fantastic technology that really adds value to the Kindle and further separates it from the competition. The light is easily adjustable, allowing you to perfectly illuminate the screen in any and all lighting conditions from bright sunshine to dark rooms. Furthermore, unlike booklights or even the lighting on the new Nook with GlowLight, the technology behind this provides very even illumination across the entire screen with no glare. Couple this with...

2. Significantly higher resolution. The dpi (dots per inch) has increased from 167 to 212. This means much sharper text and graphics yielding a much more pleasing reading experience. The fonts have also been refined to ensure the greatest clarity based on this higher dpi, and font choices have increased from 3 on the Kindle Touch to 7 on the Paperwhite (product literature mentions 6 fonts, but 2 versions of the Cecilia font - regular and condensed - increase the choices to 7).

3. Software upgrade. The new "Time to Read" feature analyzes your overall reading speed to provide an estimate of the time left to complete a chapter or book. Not a game changer, but a nice enhancement. This could be helpful in deciding yes or no when my kids plead to stay up just a little longer to finish the chapter. Also advertised is support for children's books & comics with Kindle Pop-Up and Kindle Panel View, which allows you to read a comic book panel by panel. There may be other enhancements that will become apparent once I get to play with this a bit more.

4. Battery life. Amazon touts 8 weeks per charge. What is less clear is that they base this on 30 min/day of reading, so you are looking at 28 hours without wireless turned on. Sounds less impressive put that way, and with wireless on you may get half that (or less) dpending on how long you keep wireless on. However, this is still very impressive, especially when you consider that this rating is based on having the new light on (Amazon assumes you'll have that on except when outside in daylight). Do note that this does NOT represent an improvement over previous models.

And now some cons...

1. No physical buttons. Most people I've heard from, myself included, prefer having some physical buttons, especially for page turning. This also means that because of the lack of the 5-way controller used on some earlier models, it is possible that not all Kindle apps will work (well) on tHe Paperwhite models. If you're upgrading from a Kindle Touch, this won't be an issue for you.

2. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the elimination of audio support. This is a great feature of the Kindle 3G with keyboard and some other older models. What do you lose? A few things: MP3 audio (useful for listening to music while you read), Text-to-Speech for having the Kindle read the book to you, and audio books (shocking given Amazon's ownership of Audible.com. This loss is really generating conversation and is deterring some from upgrading (myself included). This further marginalizes Kindles as pure eBook readers.

3. Less memory. Storage space has been reduced from 4GB to just 2GB. In reality, most people won't miss the 2GB that have been chopped, especially since audio files are no longer supported (audio files are much larger than books). But for some (like me) who have extensive book collections, this is another disappointing change. Of course, you do have Amazon's excellent cloud backup, which makes it easy to archive books to remove them from your Kindle, as well as quickly download previously archived books. This may be a good reason to consider the 3G version over the Wi-Fi only model; you can easily retrieve books from your archived collection without having to rely on Wi-Fi access.

4. Experimental browser support (for browsing sites other than Wikipedia and Amazon.com) is now restricted to use with Wi-Fi connections. This won't matter to most, especially since even on the older 3G models browsing the web was awkward at best. However, for me, this was unwelcome (though understandable) news. When travellng internationally, free 3G access to email, news, etc. was quite helpful, even though the browser was a challenge to use. I've been told by Amazon.com that this service change does NOT affect older Kindle models with 3G, but it would be good to have this tested to know for sure.

So... Should you upgrade? Or if you are getting your first Kindle, which model should you buy?

IF AUDIO SUPPORT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, then stick with an older model. The Kindle DX, Kindle 3G with Keyboard, and Kindle Touch all include audio support.

IF PHYSICAL BUTTONS FOR PAGE TURNS & OTHER ACTIONS IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, stick with one of the older models.

If either of the above applies to you, consider contactting Amazon to share your feedback. It would be nice to see both of these features bundled in a Kindle that includes the new features of the Paperwhite.

FOR EVERYONE ELSE, the new Paperwhite features are really nice. The $119 Paperwhite (Wi-Fi only) is agressively priced. The lighting technology and better clarity and contrast is what sells me. For those who travel or who have extensive libraries and frequently change what is on their Kindle, spending $60 to upgrade to the Paperwhite 3G is worthwhile if you can afford it.

What about the "special offers" (otherwise known as ads)? The ads are not terribly intrusive, and some of the offers are even quite attractive, so consider saving $20 by getting the Paperwhite model with ads. I've not had it confirmed, but I have heard that on the "Manage Your Kindle" page you can later pay $20 to turn off the ads (which is the same as paying to get a Kindle without ads at purchase time).

A quick final note for the few reading this who are trying to decide between a Kindle eReader and a Kindle Fire. For an all-around device, the 7" Fire HD is an amazing deal at $199 (as is the $159 marginally updated original Fire). You get the benefit of an eReader along with the gorgeous color screen, excellent apps, audio & video support, etc. That said, for people who enjoy reading (or have to read), the technology used in the Kindle Paperwhite models (and older models, too) blows tablets like the Fire HD and Apple iPad away. After months of using my iPad 2 for reading out of a desire to use only one device, I've recently gone back to my Kindle, and have discovered afresh how much nicer it is to read on. And, of course, you get that great battery life with Kindle eReaders that you won't get on a Kindle Fire or other tablet.

I'll post a complete hands-on review once my Paperwhite 3G arrives in October.

Posted on Sep 11, 2012 11:08:21 AM PDT
imix says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 11:30:12 AM PDT
WAM says:
@ B. Stoops: Great review. Thanx!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 11:38:31 AM PDT
gypsy1 says:
imix, will you please stop trying to hijack threads? There is already a thread devoted to that topic, so if you want people to see it, bump it. Not everyone agrees with you about TTS, I personally like to read, I don't want or need a device to read to me. There are still Kindle devices that support TTS, so leave the Paperwhite to folks who like it the way it is.

Posted on Sep 11, 2012 11:57:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2012 12:45:41 PM PDT
Winkinod says:
B. Stoops, thank you for a great analysis of the new Kindle Paperwhite. Your explanation of advantages and disadvantages of the new ereaders and your comparison to the older models will make the buying decision much easier for many people.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 12:09:18 PM PDT
> it is possible that not all Kindle apps will work (well) on tHe Paperwhite models.

Apps for Paperwhite? I thought apps are only for Kindle Fire? No e-reader models from Amazon can have apps.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2012 12:11:21 PM PDT
quilt lover says:
Yes they do, there are a lot of different games, notepad, and some others that I don't remember off the top of my head, but yes, they are there.

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 12:30:23 PM PDT
imix says:
Please let me to clear up.

Without audio support we lose:
-MP3 audio (useful for listening to music while you read)
-Text-to-Speech for having the Kindle read the book to you
-audio books (like this from Audible.com)

By audio "return" to Kindle Paperwhite I mean this book reader is next revision of Kindle Touch which was with audio feature.

I know that not everyone agrees with me about Audio in kindle,
but this is all right - in the world there is no way that everyone will agree with everyone with any topic :)

I realize that Kindle primary function is read text books,
and I also can prove you I love read text books,
but I expect something more with this device class.

Some people say they need only specyfic set of functions in Kindle, and the rest Amazon should remove because this is unnecessary additional cost,
but please be realistic, thinking like that Amazon should release thousand of Kindle versions for different customers,
none company will do that cause they will be wreck ;->

According to Kindle price I think its very fair - Amazon selling it without profits to herself.

Today device should be universal, one for milions of people with different feature preferences.
Kindle devices have many features... social networks, dictionaries, parental controls, highlights, screen rotation, internet browser, wikipedia, searching, collections, font size, font type, games, clock, 4GB memory, lighted screen or audio.
Think about it - I'm sure nobody use them all, but many features means this device is universal to many people - not only to you...

I'm not naive - I understood that Amazon can't add audio to Paperwhite immediately,
I know, modification like this need hardware and software change and this will take some time.
By writing this feedback I want to send message to Amazon to known them with customer needs to next version of Kindle Paperwhite.

I'm sorry for previous post format with CAPS LOCK letters, someone seen this like yelling and whining...
I not want to spam you, I only want to say my opinion as customer of Amazon - I think I have right to that.

I can write about it more my thoughts but please write also yourself fellings what you expect to your ideal Kindle device.
Personally I write about Audio because I'm not native english and reading books with TTS support will improve my speaking abilities.

One more time - if you want say your Kindle device feedback please contact with Amazon by:
- email kindle-feedback@amazon.com
- chat / phone / contact form at website: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us/ref=hp_ss_comp_cu?ie=UTF8

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2013 3:04:32 PM PDT
I am still trying to find out if I upgrade to any Kindle, how do I transfer the books I am planning to read or the other items I just want to have handy (like cookbooks).

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2013 3:09:22 PM PDT
If you want to ask a question don't do it by posting at the end of a old and unrelated discussion. Nobody's likely to even see it. Instead go to the bottom of the page where it says "Start a new discussion" and type your topic there.
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Discussion in:  Kindle forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  10
Initial post:  Sep 11, 2012
Latest post:  Apr 23, 2013

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