Amazon’s Kindle ereader is pretty old these days, having been around –– in one form or the other –– for the best part of seven years (the first model launched in 2007). Over the years, Amazon has refined the design, improved the display, and added in things like touchscreen-capabilities while all the while ensuring excellent battery life and a perfect, lightweight form factor.
Next to my smartphone, my Kindle Paperwhite is my most used piece of technology. I use it every day for hours on end. And living in London, where space is a premium, the Kindle really is a godsend because books take up room and when you already have a lot of books and space is limited the last thing you want to do is stop reading because your shelves can no longer take the strain.
I still buy books, of course, just no longer at the frequency I once did and the reason for this is the Kindle. Although I will admit, as a fan of physical books, I have made a deal with myself: once I am a homeowner and not renting, I will purchase physical copies of all my Kindle titles and create a mega-library, complete with mini-bar and an assortment of smoking jackets. This is my way of dealing with the sadness of not physically owning a book I really love. You might be different, however, and more at peace with no longer owning physical copies of books and just think I’m a bit weird.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review: Design
Lightweight. Perfectly suited for one-handed use. Slim. Nice to look at. Well proportioned. There are so many things to love about the Kindle Paperwhite, but perhaps the most important aspect of the device is its lightweight nature, which allows for easy transport anywhere.
The Kindle Paperwhite is about the same size as a softback, although a lot slimmer, and it weighs just 209g. The backpanel is made from a soft-touch material that extends around onto the front facia of the device. Amazon has kept the bezel around the display wide enough to accommodate fingers and thumbs so you never accidentally touch the display when reading.
The Kindle Paperwhite does not feature a headphone jack or internal speaker, meaning audiobooks and music playback are big no-nos. Older Kindle models do feature headphone jacks and speakers, however, although these products pre-date Amazon’s more recent push into the mobile space with phones and tablets that compete directly with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms. Basically, if one reads between the lines, the Kindle Paperwhite has one function in Amazon’s eyes – READING. If you want something like audio books and music, well, you’re better off with a Kindle Fire HDX or Fire Phone.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review: Display
Displays are important on mobile devices. But with things like an ereader they’re even more important because the whole point of the device is to replace your paper books, and this will only happen if the experience of reading on something like the Paperwhite is as good –– if not better –– than the real thing.
Thankfully the 6in e-ink display on the Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best in the business and, thanks to its backlight settings, is actually preferable to the real thing in certain settings, as you can use it in the dark, making it an ideal night-flight companion or when you’re in bed with a partner and they want the lights out.
Amazon calls the display technology Carta, and while specs for this technology are pretty thin on the ground –– Amazon, for some reason, is very tight-lipped about it –– it matters little because the overall reading experience aboard the Kindle Paperwhite is exceptional. Amazon has improved contrast compared to previous versions, meaning text and images appear more defined, and the company’s engineers have sorted out the backlight, too, which is now more consistent, even on full-power.
Basically, if you’re after an ereader this Christmas and want the best, the Kindle Paperwhite is the one to go for. There other plenty of other options, of course, many of which with lots of fancy bells and whistles –– and that’s fine, choice is good. But, if you want something that is simple to use, features an excellent display, and grants you access to the biggest eBook repository on the planet, then the Kindle Paperwhite is the one for you.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review: Ecosystem
When it comes to ebooks, Amazon has plenty –– somewhere in the region of 2.5 million, to be exact. In the five years I’ve been using a Kindle there have been two instances when I couldn’t find the novel I was looking for inside the Kindle Store. To say the Kindle Store has most popular titles would be an understatement, as it not only has popular new content but also plenty of older, more obscure titles as well as plenty –– read: thousands –– of free eBooks to choose from.
Then there’s initiatives like Kindle Unlimited –– basically, Spotify for Kindle titles –– and Amazon Prime membership, which grants you access to the Kindle Lending Library, where you can, as the name suggests, borrow eBooks for a fixed term for absolutely nothing (save for the cost of your Prime membership).
With respect to eBook pricing, things vary: you can pick up stuff for free, for £0.99p or for £4.99. I just finished the new Stephen King novel, Revival, which I bought on the day it came out for £5.99. A lot of classic titles, now out of copyright, are free and you can pick up modern classics like H.G. Wells’ The War of The Worlds for £2.68.
Basically, if you go the Amazon route you’ll never be short of things to read. As I mentioned earlier, I get through about five to six books a month and, in five and a bit years, I’ve only been left out in the cold twice by Amazon’s Kindle store. And both instances were books written by relatively unknown authors.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review: Battery
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite’s battery is INSANE. I just mine everyday for about two to three hours and only have to charge it fully once a month –– sometimes less. It just keeps on going and going and going. I know a lot of people that charge there’s everyday, like a smartphone. You are free to do this, of course, but it’s not necessary. The Kindle Paperwhite will last weeks on end from a single charge. And after a year of use I’ve yet to see any depletion in performance.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review: Verdict
Amazon’s Kindle lines of ereaders, like iPods, are kind of synonymous with the whole ereader concept. Most people think of an eBook and automatically think of Kindle, that’s just the way it is. Amazon knows this, too, and has consistently updated the design of its ereader device in order to improve the overall reading experience. Ditto for its ever-expanding Kindle services.
Amazon has the whole ereader thing down to a fine art. Nobody else comes close, and this is why most serious ereaders have a Kindle over something from Sony, B&N or Kobo.