Emerging Technology

GADGET WATCH: Kindle Paperwhite

Patrick Stafford /

While the tablet space has become very crowded, there are some clear leaders. When it comes to high quality media consumption, the iPad is king, but in terms of solitary eReading, Amazon still controls that space.

The new range of eReaders certainly looks impressive. But can the new Kindle Paperwhite still lead the way? Reviewers have put it through some hoops – and the result is overwhelmingly positive.

Hardware and features

The Kindle Paperwhite features a six-inch screen, 2GB of internal storage and, like the rest of the Kindle series, features an E Ink screen with 1024×768 resolution.

Connectivity-wise, the gadget features Wi-Fi B/G/N and 2.0 USB. Amazon also claims up to 56 days of battery life, although that will obviously depend on usage.

The gadget supports PDF, TXT, HTML and DOC files, and the 3G version obviously includes 3G connectivity as well.

What’s the consensus?

The first thing a user will notice about the Paperwhite is that it isn’t that different from the rest of the Kindle family. As The Verge points out, the style is very much in keeping with the previous versions, but also takes into account features of the Kindle Fire.

Those include some rounded corners, and a different type of paint. IT also points out the display is less “sunken” into the actual body.

But how does it handle?

“The device is incredibly comfortable in hand. The size and shape feels close enough to an average book that it’s not jarring, and for the amount of technology packed in, it’s relatively light and thin.”

“The weight doesn’t differ from the previous model (0.47 pounds, or 0.49 pounds for the 3G model) and it’s actually a little heavier than the GlowLight, but if you can detect the 0.06 pound difference, you’re a lot more sensitive than I am.”

The publication also pointed out that, with a leather case, the device itself feels quite comfortable.

Engadget also had good things to say about the display, from which the device gets its name. There are 62% more pixels now, and the publication notes the difference is “immediately apparent”.

“The company says it paid special attention to selecting LEDs that didn’t wear down the device’s battery. By Amazon’s own estimate, it’s done a pretty solid job on that account: it rates the battery for eight weeks of reading time with the light on (at a little less than halfway, with the Wi-Fi off, by Amazon’s own caveats).”

It also said the higher quality screen makes its pages appear brighter than competitors, namely the Nook.

Gizmodo also made a suite of positive impressions, writing that while having one physical button is a little bit of a hassle, there are things to love about the device.

One is the new feature that detects how quickly you’ve been reading and then lets you know how long it’s going to take you to finish the rest of the chapter or book.

In fact, Engadget said the device is a recommended buy, with the only reason not to buy “if you really love physical buttons”.

And finally, Wired had similar things to say, noting that even without physical buttons the make-up of the device puts it ahead of the competition.

It also pointed out some good software improvements, including the X-Ray feature, which allows readers to find more information about the media you’re reading.

But what really makes the Paperwhite shine is Amazon’s vast breadth of content.

“Nobody can compete with the online retailer’s services, or the breadth of its catalogue. Amazon Prime subscribers get access to books that can be borrowed for no additional cost, too. And all of this is accessible from the Kindle’s built-in bookstore – which is serviceable, though it’s still easier to shop on a real computer.”

Who’s it for?

Anyone who loves an eReader. This isn’t a tablet, and it’s not trying to be. But many people now separate their main entertainment tablet from an eReader. If you’re one of those people, then this is the best reader on the market right now, and you should do yourself the favour of checking it out.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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