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.
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.