Kindles have come a long way in a very short time. My first Kindle, not much more than a couple of years ago, was a clunky, blocky affair. My second, the previous non-Paperwhite Kindle (the one with the keyboard) was much better – but still a little bulky.
The New Kindle Paperwhite (late 2013) is an altogether more natural feeling device. It’s compact and light – very easy on the hand. Apart from the on switch, it lacks buttons of any kind, being a touchscreen device.
My assumption was that this would be a weakness – that, like the iPad, it would be a fingerprint magnet which required frequent cleaning. Not so. It takes the lightest of touches to move from page to page; even my often sticky hands don’t seem to be making a negative impression on its screen. If I’m honest, I’d still prefer the button to be at the side of the screen – ergonomically, this seems to make the most sense, as you don’t have to even move your thumb to turn a page. But the touchscreen does work well, though I seem to have a habit of moving forwards more than one page, when I’m a little careless.
The build quality is excellent. This is a sturdy piece of kit. While the plastic on the front is smooth, the reverse is matt – just enough of the sheen removed to allow you to grip it properly. As usual, adding a case gives you more protection – but adds weight and bulk.
The screen is excellent. It’s backlit, so – for the first time with a Kindle – you can read in the dark. Indeed, you can read in almost any lighting condition. You can adjust the level of backlighting until you’re comfortable. The refresh when you turn pages now has far less of a distracting flash. Type is clear and legible.
The Kindle Paperwhite’s performance is snappy – it positively zips along when moving from page to page.
Battery life is claimed to be much better. I have to say that, with the wireless turned on, I’ve not found this to be the case – I certainly didn’t get the claimed weeks of life from it. I’ve now turned wireless off and we’ll see how much of a difference that makes.
At just over £100 (without 3G) it’s also very good value – more performance and a better screen for around the same money.
Was it worth the upgrade? I’d say yes, without a doubt. It’s lighter, more comfortable to use and it’s wonderful to be able to read in the dark, or dim light, without an add-on light. I expect that many a Christmas stocking will have one of these inside it this year.