Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi [Previous Generation]
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- Patented built-in light evenly illuminates the screen to provide the perfect reading experience in all lighting conditions
- Paperwhite has 62% more pixels and 25% better contrast for sharp, dark text
- Up to 8-week battery life, even with the light on at setting 10
- Download books in 60 seconds with built-in Wi-Fi - holds up to 1,100 books
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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.
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!