Paperwhite Kindle Review

As a Kindle user, I was very excited when Amazon announced the Paperwhite Kindle. Who wouldn’t want a wonderful Kindle that keeps the e-ink technology, but adds a light and a whiter background?  Unfortunately, the Paperwhite just didn’t deliver for me.

I have been reviewing and using Amazon Kindles since the first one appeared in 2007. Although I also own an Amazon Fire HD and an Apple iPad, I prefer reading on the Kindle. After, a full day of starting at a computer screen, my eyes are usually too tired to read a paper book. Reading on the Fire or the iPad is hard on the eyes, just like reading on the computer screen. So in the evening, I pick up my Kinde. Its e-ink technology is easier on my eyes.

There are two problems with the regular Kindles. First, the background is gray rather than white and second, in a dark room, you need an external light, like a lamp. Recently, Amazon announced the Paperwhite Kindle, an e-ink reader that was to solve these two problems. To be honest, I was extremely excited, until the Paperwhite was delivered. Now I am extremely disappointed.

The 6” Paperwhite is thin and light and has better text clarity than previous Kindles. The touch screen is also more responsive than previous touch screen Kindles. It has all of the functionality of previous Kindles pertaining to reading. So you can adjust the size of the text, find the meaning of words, highlight passages. The Paperwhite even lets you choose from eight different type faces. It also lets you read in bed at night without a lamp or external light. However, the Paperwhite has some flaws and omissions that I find unacceptable.

The screen is lit by four LED lights located at the bottom of the screen. These produce four gray blotches on the screen. (shown below). When reading a book, these blotches extend all the way into the last line of text. I also find that at full brightness (which is the only way to produce a white background) the entire screen is slightly blotchy. Amazon says that this is normal, but to me it is very distracting.

In the Paperwhite, as well as in the $69 touch screen Kindle, Amazon has completely removed the audio capabilities. There are no speakers. And that is a shame. With the Paperwhite, you cannot listen to audio books or have the Kindle read the text to you. You also cannot use Whispersync for Voice, which lets you seamlessly switch between listening to the Audible audiobook and reading the companion Kindle book right where you left off – an outstanding feature that is available for the Kindle Fire and older Kindles that have audio capabilities.

The Kindle Paperwhite starts at $119 (with ads) for the WiFi model. The WiFi+3G model is $179. As with other Kindle products, you will see ads as your screensaver unless you pay Amazon an additional $20 to turn them off. They will not, however, interfere with your reading in anyway.

Bottom Line

Although the Kindle Paperwhite has great screen clarity and lets you read in a dark place, there is a price to pay for these. Amazon says they are normal, but the screen blotchiness and the four gray blemishes at the bottom of the screen are obvious and distracting. This greatly detracts from the goal of making the reading experience more like reading a paper book.

Removing the audio capabilities allows the reader to be thinner and lighter, but at a great cost to those who love audio books, who are used to using speech-to-text, or who want to take advantage of Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice.

If you are willing to overlook these problems and omissions, you will be happy with the Paperwhite. Otherwise, follow my lead and take a pass on this one.


  • Excellent text clarity
  • Thin and light
  • Let’s you read in dark places
  • Responsive touch screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Useable Web browser


  • Four blotches at the bottom of the screen
  • Blotchiness of screen background, especially at full brightness
  • No audio support


Otto Rascon 25-10-2012, 11:38

Great review Sandy. I just received my Kindle Paperwhite yesterday and I’m also VERY disappointed in the blotchy screen. I can handle the 4 lights at the bottom of the screen (the screen has to be illuminated somehow), but the discolored and blotchy screen is unacceptable and distracting. I feel that Amazon rushed to the Kindle PW to market in order to compete with Barnes and Noble. Why not wait another few months to really nail down this technology? I guess the Kindle PW v2 will be great.

anne maillet 25-10-2012, 21:01

Thank you for that review I was looking into a paperwhite for my daughter and grandchildren..I wouldn’t even have thought to ask or think about such problems until we unwrapped it and used it for a while… might have even thought the 9 year old “DID SOMETHING” to it, once we discovered the problem.

Mary Withrow 26-10-2012, 00:14

I loved the review, I to will have to pass!

bomz 24-11-2012, 00:37

Great review,thanks a lot

Mike 27-12-2012, 13:59

I got one for Christmas. Mine too was blotchy. My replacement is coming today. Hopefully it will solve the problem but I hear others have returned 4-5 times and given up! It’s too bad. Other than the smudgy screen it’s very nice.

Sandy Berger 27-12-2012, 14:58

I wish you luck, but FYI every Kindle Paperwhite that I’ve seen has the same problem. It is a little better on some, but to me, still obvious. It’s a shame because it could have been a great product!
Let us know how you fare.

Fred Thomas 28-12-2012, 17:02

I have a Kindle and I am looking for more Information on what I can do with my kindle Fire. The instruction could be much better. I have been unable to find anywhere to get additional information.
Any help would be great.

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