Review: Latest Kindle Paperwhite right for you?

Kindle Pencil

As an avid iPad user, I never thought I’d ever have a need for an e-reader until I actually spent some time with one. I love books, all kinds of books, physical print books and e-books and when I need to read the latter, I always have an iPad or iPhone within arms reach. But after spending some time reviewing the newest Kindle Paperwhite, I realize it doesn’t have to be one or the other; this e-reader can certainly find a home alongside your favourite tablet.

For those familiar with the Kindle Paperwhite, the revamped 2015 model, replaces the original 2013 offering. Physically, the changes are hardly noticeable. The new incarnation still features a 6-inch greyscale display with e-ink, but it’s now 300 ppi (pixels per inch), up from 212 ppi with a resolution of 1430 x 1080, twice the number of pixels than before. They’ve also doubled the storage memory to 4GB. 

New Typesetting Engine

The biggest enhancements are under the hood and in its delivery. Some of these include the new exclusively designed Bookerly Font, adding more clarity and crispness and lessening the fatigue factor when binge reading. There’s also a new typesetting engine designed to ensure proper spacing between words, dynamic text and image handling, including properly executed hyphenation breaks within words, support for drop caps plus overall better page layout.

When you first start reading on an e-reader, you figure, text is text, but after a while you see it as a book and gain appreciation for a visually appealing layout – so these enhancements are certainly welcomed additions.

Now not every existing book will immediately be able to take advantage of all these features. According to Amazon, many of the old Kindle Books are being converted, but it does take time.

As for the Paperwhite 2013 and the original 167 ppi Kindle, I’ve never really spent much time with either, except for perhaps borrowing a friend’s or tinkering at a store. I can’t say I was overly excited.

But I have spent time with the new model.

At first, the Paperwhite did take a little getting used to. I found the screen too small (9.7″ vs. 6″) having to turn pages frequently especially when using larger fonts and the fact it lacked much of the iPad’s functionality. It has a rudimentary browser but it’s only experimental. Its 3G connectivity, albeit free, is great when you need to download your books where no Wi-Fi is available, but it only offers access to Amazon’s Kindle Store. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that it was an e-reader and not a tablet and accepted what it was designed to do, I began to enjoy it that much more.

I began to carry it around more frequently. When stuck between meetings, I could easily whip it out and read a few pages. It does use Amazon’s Whispersync, so I could take a Kindle e-Book I was reading on my iPad or any other device and I could continue to read where I left off. Using Kindle’s Personal Documents Service, I could also upload a limited amount of my own material, nothing data sensitive mind you, by emailing it to my Kindle account.

Size in some cases became an advantage. It measures 169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm. The 3G version weighs only 217 g and Wi-Fi model 205 g, about 50% lighter than an iPad Mini 4. I could easily slip it into some coat pockets. Lying in bed I could easily hold it up in one hand for extended periods of time.

Great Battery Life

Plus it has good battery life. In fact I could go for a few weeks before needing to recharge. Of course keeping Wi-Fi on as well as the light will reduce it.

Some Kindle e-Books like Cynthia Lennon’s, John, written by the late Beatle’s first wife is a great example of the new Kindle Paperwhite book engine. It offers great photo reproduction, precision text alignment, proper drop cap placement and a clean layout regardless of font size. On the other hand, books like Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk’s book about how to tell your story in a noisy social media world, which has lots of social media screen shots is not conducive to a Kindle, offered a very poor experience compared to the Kindle iOS app and even moreso compared to the hardcover version. In some cases you could crank up the lighting to better see images and screenshots, but it’s a pain.

What I really like about it is that it’s very portable. It’s great to take on a holiday and utilize at the beach as it can read in direct sunlight, something I couldn’t do with my iOS device.  Another reason is purely dollars and sense; if it does happen to get lost, I’m less concerned at a hundred dollars and change rather than a $900 iPad, plus I all have to redo is sync with my account and get all my books back.

Some Lack of ePub & Audio Support

There are a few things I’m less than thrilled about. There’s no support for ePub formats commonly found on other platforms, nor audio to listen to audio books. And unlike other devices there’s no provision to borrow e-books from Canadian Libraries. And finally, especially late at night I do get a little bugged by the fact it needs to refresh so the screen appears to flash.

Makes Sense

But overall, I’m still fairly impressed. In fact there are many other features like Goodreads integration, a PDF rendering engine, so images look less pixelated, and a cool proprietary X-ray tool available on some books to be able to get additional insight or information on the book beyond just actual text.

The Kindle Paperwhite 2015 takes a giant step forward for e-readers adding new features that enhance one’s reading experience. It would make a great gift for any avid reader, even for yourself. But will it replace your full-sized iPad? Probably not, but they can certainly both make great companions. The Kindle Paperwhite retails for $139.99; the 3G version is $209.99 and available from Amazon. Chances are right now; it’ll be on sale.

Rating 4 / 5



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