The Kindle Paperwhite Hits the Sweet Spot

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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

I’ve been test driving the Kindle Paperwhite for the past week. The device was sent to me by an Amazon representative for review on my geek dad blog. I love it. I really do. The Paperwhite is now my favorite gadget for reading. My previous favorite e-reader was the Nook Color. It’s a nice device, but it’s more of a mini-tablet than a e-reader because it’s a little too heavy and big for holding when you’re doing a lot of reading in one sitting. In comparison, the Kindle Paperwhite is light and I can easily hold it with one hand. In addition, I can easily flip the page back and forth just by tapping the page with my thumb instead of having to swipe.

Kindle Paperwhite features New Oxford American Dictionary and Wikipedia

In addition to being just the right size for reading, another feature that blew me away is how easy it was to read in bright sunlight. I can read outside with my Nook Color, but it’s not ideal because the contrast is low and the glossy screen reflects my surroundings back to me when I’m trying to read. In contrast, the Paperwhite has great contrast and it didn’t reflect images back at me.

The Paperwhite is great for reading under normal and bright lights. However, I’m not so sure about reading in the dark. With the Paperwhite, you can certainly read in the dark without a lot of problems. However, in my test in a dark closet, I noticed the contrast seems to be a bit on the low side. It’s not so low that it makes it hard to read and of course users can increase the brightness via the device’s settings menu. To be honest, it’s not a big deal for me because I don’t read in the dark. I prefer a well lit room when I’m reading at night.

Like other e-readers, the Paperwhite will save your place when you’re reading. But Amazon takes it a step further with its Whispersync technology by saving your page location across multiple devices. For instance, you can start off on a Kindle, then switch to an iPad or Android device and Whispersync will keep track of where you are no matter what device you’re using to read. BTW, Kindles use a location number instead of a page number at the bottom of the page. A page number won’t always give you the correct location because a book page can span across multiple pages on a Kindle. A location number, on the the other hand, will give you the exact same location in a Kindle book. This comes in handy if you want to direct a friend to the same place you are in a Kindle book.

Even though the Kindle Paperwhite is designed to be an e-reader, you can also use it to surf the web via its Experimental Browser. The browser works OK. However, the device doesn’t support color so all the pages you view are in black and white. In addition, scrolling a web page via a swipe is a bit clunky. The motion isn’t smooth and sometimes you have to swipe multiple times before the page will scroll.

The Kindle I tested out is the ad supported version. The price difference between the ad supported version and the regular Paperwhite is only $20 ($119 vs $139). To be honest, I don’t mind the ads. They don’t show up when you’re using the device. Instead, the ad shows up in the form of a static screensaver when you push the off button or when the device goes into sleep mode. Note: if you power off the device completely, the screen becomes blank (no special offers). BTW, I had not seen an ad-supported Paperwhite before so I thought the ad was a protective film for the screen. Naturally, I tried to pull off the special offer but couldn’t. You can stop laughing now.

My Kindle Paperwhite uses Wi-fi to connect to Amazon and the cloud. If Wi-fi isn’t the way you want to go, there’s also a 3G version for $189. The Kindle Paperwhite 3G includes built-in 3G connectivity that uses the same wireless signals that cell phones use, but there are no monthly fees or commitments. 3G enables readers to download books anytime, anywhere, without having to find a Wi-Fi hotspot connection.

Below are some other features I like about the Kindle Paperwhite:

  • Charge Monthly, Not Daily
    I’ve been using the Paperwhite for more than a week now, and I have not had to charge it yet. According to Amazon, a single charge can last up to eight weeks (based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at ten).

  • Kindle FreeTime
    This is a great feature for parents. With FreeTime, dads and moms can create personalized profiles for kids, and give them access to titles from their collection of books.

  • Flip Through Without Losing Your Place
    Thanks to the device’s Page Flip feature, you can skim page-by-page, scan by chapter, or skip to the end for a sneak peek without losing your place.

  • Take and Share Notes
    With the Kindle Paperwhite, you can add margin notes that you can edit, delete, or even export from Kindle Paperwhite to your computer. Readers can even share highlighted sections and meaningful quotes on Facebook and Twitter, and see passages frequently highlighted by other Kindle readers.

  • Look It Up Instantly
    Thanks to the Smart Lookup feature, readers can look up information via the New Oxford American Dictionary and Wikipedia without losing their place in the book.

  • Enhance Your Vocabulary
    The Kindle Paperwhite includes a Vocabulary Builder to expand your knowledge and reinforce retention. Swipe through your vocabulary words, quiz yourself with flashcards, and instantly see those words in context.

Kindle Paperwhite Specs

  • Display: Amazon’s 6″ Paperwhite display with exclusive Carta e-paper technology and next-generation built-in light, 212 ppi, optimized font technology, 16-level gray scale
  • Size: 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169mm x 117mm x 9.1mm)
  • Weight: 7.3 ounces (206 grams)
  • On-Device Storage: 2 GB internal (approximately 1.25 GB available for user content) — holds up to 1,100 books
  • Cloud Storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
  • Battery Life: A single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10. Battery life will vary based on light and wireless usage
  • Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours from a computer via USB cable
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity: Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
  • Content Formats Supported: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion
  • Documentation: Quick Start Guide (included in box); Kindle Paperwhite User Guide (pre-installed on device) [PDF] — additional information in multiple languages available online
  • Warranty and Service: 1-year limited warranty and service included — optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately
  • Included in the Box: Kindle Paperwhite, USB 2.0 charging cable and Quick Start Guide

More info: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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