Is It Just A Paperweight, Or A Worthy Successor For The Kindle Crown?

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review

Paperweight? Or overlooked for its subtlety?

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review

Author: Craig Jones

It’s the second iteration of the 5th generation Kindle, doing away with physical buttons completely, adding a built in light and expanding the resolution, but is all that really worth the upgrade?


The Paperwhite finally says a long overdue goodbye to the ageing aesthetics of the silver/grey dust coating seen on earlier Kindle models in favour of a more sophisticated black attire. The front has a sexy glossy bezel while the rear is coated with a tactile rubber, which should help to prevent any accidental drops.

There’s no home button any more, you may feel temporarily confused if you’re used to the older, button-filled Kindle devices, all of which have had at least one physical button occupying the lower portion of the devices. However, once you start reading a book, chances are you won’t need to jump back to the home screen until you’ve finished. If for whatever reason you do need to get back to the main menu, you can do so by tapping near the top of the screen, then pressing the ‘home’ icon that should be familiar if you are used to any desktop experience.

Size & Screen

At only 11.7cm across and 16.9cm tall, the Paperwhite is small enough to be stowed away inside a handbag, backpack or even a more forgiving pocket, albeit at a push. It’s certainly not chubby either at 9.1mm, which is about as most smartphones and thinner than the earlier Kindle Touch by almost half a centimetre. It weighs the same at 213g, which is light enough that it won’t make an impact if you’re carrying it around all day, even if you decide to go for the 3G model, its added bulk of 11g, really isn’t going to do any damage either.

This is the first Kindle to feature a light, making it possible to read in the dark. Rather than the standard back-light  the Paperwhite takes advantage of tiny lights that have been embedded into the side of the Paperwhite’s screen which illuminate the whole page, edge to edge,so you won’t be distracted by any particularly luminous patches on the page or ambient shadows. You can adjust the brightness by tapping near the top of the screen and pressing on the ‘light bulb’ icon, which presents a slider you can drag to change the illumination accordingly or turn it off completely.

Amazon has also beefed up both the pixel count and contrast, which makes text will appear crisper on the page. In comparison with the Kindle Touch however, there is barely any discernible difference between the two displays. That being said, text still looks pin sharp, just don’t expect to be blown away by a revolutionary reading experience.


The Paperwhite is controlled entirely by touch screen and sees you turning virtual pages by tapping either on the left or the right of the display. Naturally, there is some learning curve involved, with screen swipes and other gestures to memorise. In theory, this works just as well as the physical buttons that adorn the £69 Kindle, however in practice there are some drawbacks.

A glowing example of this is the area of the page that you would tap to turn back one page, it is unforgivably slim, you may find yourself occasionally skipping  ahead a few pages when actually meaning to skip backwards. Furthermore this isn’t suited to the commutative reader, if you often change buses or trains, be aware that you may accidentally skip ahead loads of pages as you walk with it gripped in your hand, make good use of the lock button located on the bottom edge.

Who’s It For?

If you already own a Kindle or an other e-Ink device, while the new features offered by the Paperwhite are definitely great additions, this shouldn’t be an overbearing reason to upgrade. However if you own the 2010 keyboard Kindle then you’ll definitely feel the benefit of the decrease in stature offered by the Paperwhite.

Value For Money?

It comes in at just £109 for the WiFi version and £169 for the 3G and WiFi flavour, admittedly it’s slightly pricey compared to some e-Readers, but there’s no doubt this is one of the best. Although the £69 Kindle is still appealing if you’re trying to save cash.

Final Thoughts

The Paperwhite is a welcome addition to the Kindle family, even if its glowing light is really the only new feature worth buying it for. However with a pleasing physical design, a legitimately impressive screen (for that of an e-Ink variety), an operating system that feels natural to use, and the largest selection of digital reading material anywhere, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a satisfying experience.

Simplicity is the ethos of Amazons Kindle, and the Paperwhite is certainly testament to that. You may not be able to stay connected to all of your social networks, but when reading a good book, who wants reality anyway?

Tech enthusiast, with a passion for the written word.

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Posted in e-Readers, Reviews

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