Kindle Paperwhite: first impressions

Kindle Paperwhite: first impressions

For disclosure, Amazon gave me this Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6″ High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers. That is not because I’m a blogger, and it didn’t affect whether I would have gotten it or not. I actually had ordered one before I knew I was being given one for my help on the Amazon Kindle forums. I had ordered the one without 3G, and canceling my order and getting theirs going is what resulted in my not having it as soon as some other people. I am not an Amazon employee, and I don’t believe that having been given it will affect these first impressions.

I have owned every reflective screen Kindle model except the recently discontinued Kindle DX. I also have  Kindle Fire 1st Generation, and a Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB.

I mention that to let you know that I can fairly compare the Paperwhite to almost every other model.

The front-lighting on the Paperwhite makes it the most comfortable reading experience I have ever had, including paperbooks. It doesn’t feel like a light in your eyes (and it isn’t), but it has a vibrancy that makes the page live in a very different way.

I’ve referred to the original reflective screen Kindles as looking like an Etch-A-Sketch. The Kindle Paperwhite is like looking in a Viewmaster. 🙂 That’s not to say it’s 3D, of course,  but it has that mellow brightness.

That said, it isn’t perfect. At the bottom of edge of the screen, it looks unevenly smudgy. It’s below where there are words, but it looks like your fingertips are casting shadows on it. It also reminds me a bit of playing Missile Command, with that city at the bottom of the screen.

I think I’ll get used to it quickly. I’ve tried it in bright light, and in an unlit room (turning down the brightness for the latter), and they were both nice. I have superior night vision (which I believe is connected to having some color vision deficiency), and I could still see a slight reflection on the wall even with the light turned down all the way, but I think most people probably wouldn’t notice it.

You can not turn the light all the way off while the device is awake, but Amazon assures us we can get up to eight weeks of battery charge life even with the light on.

I must say, they greatly improved the unpacking experience. There wasn’t a sticker to peel off the screen, and the set-up was guided and easy. You were given the option to do the wi-fi network set-up or to skip it, for example. For someone just planning to use the 3G, that would make sense.

The screen has a very fine, sort of gritty feel…it feels textured a bit. It’s not smooth like glass, it’s…easy to run your fingers over it, but you feel it in a good way. I think that might be part of what makes it seem more responsive. It already seems much more responsive than my Kindle Touch, for instance.

Speaking of the Kindle Touch, the Paperwhite is also slightly narrower, and that gives the new Kindle a much better feel in my hand.

The homescreen is definitely an adjustment. It shows you covers of books, and it includes recommendations on mine. I’m not a very visual person, so I tapped the menu button (horizontal lines), and switched to List View. That made it look like it does on my other Kindles: just text.

Similar to a Kindle Fire on the Books tab, you don’t tap the menu to get to your Archives: you tap on the screen to switch between Cloud and Device.

Generally, the interface is pretty easy to use: I think people who have used other touchscreen devices will have no problem. You can “pinch and spread” to increase the text size, for one thing.

On the other hand, if you want to turn the wireless on and off, you do have to go to Home, then do Settings, and then tap there (Airplane Mode on means that wireless is off).

The connection seems speedy, although that’s hard to judge. Using the hyperlinks in my book

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations

seems as fast as on my Kindle Fire. I’m not sure why, but the display of the webpage actually looks better on the Paperwhite than in Silk. One cool thing: I could swipe up, or swipe left, and they both took me to the “next page” of Wikipedia.

The translation also gives you a lot of options. I chose Hindi, and yes, the translation showed me the appropriate character set (as far as I could tell).

Overall, this would be my non-backlit reader of choice. It could be my main reader, except for one fatal flaw for me. Since it doesn’t have sound, it doesn’t have text-to-speech, and I wouldn’t have a primary reader without it. Still, I think it will move into the spot in the rotation currently occupied by my Mindle (the least expensive model), which also does not have speakers.

I end up reading on my Kindle Fire most of the time, since I take that one with me. At home, though, I think it will be the Paperwhite for reading.

If you have any questions about it, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

I’m sure I’ll write more about it in the future. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


21 Responses to “Kindle Paperwhite: first impressions”

  1. Karen Says:

    I got my PaperWhite yesterday and so far it’s great. I wasn’t sure I would like it and was really careful with the packaging in case I wanted to send it back and get the $69 one. No way cause I love it. Unlike Bufo I take the reader with me if I plan to read and the Fire HD if not. Guess if I was traveling I’d take both if I was going to be gone any length of time. In a pinch I read on the Fire but much prefer the dedicated readers. The PW is my new best friend and as far as the shadows at the bottom of the screen I’ve already adjusted. BTW I’m really enjoying the book of quotes. Thanks so much not only for the free copy I got but for writing it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      I always plan to read. 🙂 It’s just that I usually am also using m Kindle Fire for work stuff, and I don’t want to carry both. Also, the TTS (text-to-speech) on the Kindle Fire is quite a bit superior to the Touch (and of course, not an option on the Paperwhite). I listened to it for a couple of hours today while driving.

      Yay! I’m glad you are liking The Mind Boggles! That’s the first feedback I’ve had…still waiting for my first review on Amazon. 🙂

  2. Steven King (@stevejk) Says:

    I concur on the shadows on the bottom of the screen due to the lighting. It is noticeable but I don’t find it distracting.

    The illumination, even as supplemental lighting in a illuminated room, does make reading easier, especially if the room’s lighting is not optimal.

    It is a shame there is no TTS with a headphone jack — I could live w/o speakers.

    I didn’t know about the List view on the home screen. I don’t like the cover view, especially since half the screen is consumed with non-relevant “recommendations”. I’ll give that a try when I get home. I do prefer the list view of my KTouch and KKeyboard.

    I got the wifi-only version. Since the 3G is so restricted, I didn’t see value in spending $60 to be able to access ONLY Wikipedia. I have wifi at home and at work. I have my KKeyboard w/ 3G for web access when out on the town.

    If Amazon allowed text-only web browsing, i.e., no images, on 3G, that would be enough to be worth the extra $60.

    However, since every generation of Kindle is a step down from the previous generation, I don’t expect any of these useful features to appear ever. The next generation of Kindle will probably have just 512 KB of storage, down from 2 GB (~1.3 GB user accessible)

  3. Peter Willard Says:

    I’m still using my Kindle 2, which unfortunately just suffered some screen damage. It’s only the very top of the screen and it doesn’t effect the text but I’m now thinking of upgrading to the Paperwhite. One question I have is how do you enter characters when searching? Does a touchscreen keyboard pop up, or is it similar to the Miidle?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Peter!

      It’s a touchscreen keyboard, similar to the Kindle Touch. I find the Paperwhite more responsive than the Touch…I’m guessing you haven’t used a Touch, but that may help other people compare. 🙂

      I’d say that entering words is reasonably easy…not as fast as on a physical keyboard for me, but not dissimilar from a cellphone.

  4. Debora Schmitt Says:

    I ordered the new Kindle Fire HD with 3 G. I assumed it will work any where there is cell coverage. I travel alot and don’t want to always be looking for Wify. The comments about only getting Wikipedia are scaring me. Is the 3 G covered really limited?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Debora!

      The Kindle Fire 4G is not limited as to where you go on the web, although you are limited as to how much, based on the data plan you buy.

  5. Diane Nelson Says:

    Could you please tell about page turning with the Paperwhite? Especially I would like to know if one handed page turning can be done? I have not used a touch model, I only have had the Kindle keyboard. Every other feature of the Paperwhite seems so great to me- But I do read one handed a lot so that would make it perfect if it can be done. Thanks for any info.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Diane!

      If you are a right-hander, or ambidextrous like me, the page turning forward is easy. Going back a page is a bit tougher, because the area to go to the previous page is sort of narrow just on the left side.

      I tend to rest the corner of the Kindle in the “pit” of my hand (sort of in the middle by the ball of my thumb), with three or four fingers behind it. I can easily reach my thumb with one hand to go to the next page. Reaching far enough over to go to the previous page, or tapping in the top to bring up the menu, isn’t easy in that position. For either of those, I adjust my grip. That’s only when holding it in the right-hand. I can reach both previous and next easily holding it in my left hand.

      I do think it is easier to turn pages on a Kindle keyboard, but it’s not hard on a Kindle Paperwhite.

  6. Linda Says:

    What updates/improvements do you think Amazon will make to the PW? I love my Kindle keyboard but had to return it 3 times since I had all of its original problems: heating up in the sun and fading numbers. I also read library books on my ipad. My fingers hurt a lot and I don’t like to swipe. For me, the keyboard is less painful and I can use my left hand for page changes. I like to have the Whispernet option.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Linda!

      It’s an interesting and complicated question. 🙂

      If you are talking about hardware changes in future models, I do think they’ll get rid of the shadowing at the bottom (which doesn’t affect reading, but does seem to bother some people). I think there is a possibility we’ll see a big screen version (replacing the recently departed Kindle DX). I’d love to see a version with speakers and TTS (text-to-speech) even if it’s more expensive.

      Eventually, there will be a color model, and screen refresh will get faster to the point of limited animation.

      If you are talking about software…I do think we’ll move towards more social with personally defined groups. That would include notes and reviews from you group, and not just from a general “public”.

      I think eventually we’ll get a lot more organizational capability, including the ability to specify users with different access to the archives. This would include the ability to download to multiple devices at once, and delete more than one item at a time.

      There are a few ideas. 🙂

      The software features above would not be limited to the Paperwhite, but not become available on all models.

  7. MikeTeeVee Says:

    I’m surprised you do a lot of reading on the Fire. I carry both my Fire and Keyboard with me. I use the Fire for “browsing/skimming” (especially using Google Reader in the web browser), but if I’m reading more than a couple paragraphs of text, I far prefer the e-ink screen on the Keyboard.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mike!

      I was surprised, too. 🙂 I thought I would find reading on the Fire uncomfortable for long stretches, but I don’t. I can easily read chapters on it. I have changed settings on it a bit, though.

      While I notice the Paperwhite as a superior experience (although I haven’t sat and read on it for a straight hour, yet), I don’t especially notice it with my Mindle or Touch.

      • MikeTeeVee Says:

        Which settings have you changed on the Fire’s reading app? I’ve tried the tan background, which helps soften the harshness of reading a backlit LCD a little bit.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, MikeTeeVee!

        First, I have to say that my vision isn’t typical. I have some color vision deficiency, and I think as a rsult of that, superior night vision.

        When I’m not outside in bright sunlight, I have the brightness turned down…I’d say at about 75%.

        I use the Sepia background.

        I use Georgia and size 5…that’s on my Kindle Fire HD. On my Kindle Fire 1st Gen, I used Arial.

      • MikeTeeVee Says:

        Part of the trouble I have with extended reading on LCD (or CRT) screens is that the fonts can look “fuzzy” or “grainy”. Some of that is the nature of color screens which have separate red/green/blue pixels side by side.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, MikeTeeVee!

        I don’t have that issue, but again, it’s possible my vision affects that. It looks sharp enough to me.

  8. Pat Says:

    You can remove the recommended books in cover mode. Just set the parental mode to “store off” and the recommended titles will not be displayed. If you want to visit the store, you enter a password which you set when turning the shop off.

  9. Mara Says:

    Hello Bufo,

    my faithful kindle keyboard 3G died two days ago while I was travelling abroad. Even if out of warranty, I was offered a replacement (great service Amazon!), but as an I am an “International user” it simply wasn’t worth it. The offer was a kindle touch 3G at 150$ (plus shipping and Vat) instead of 104$ if I had been in the USA. With Paperwhite at 189$, I didn’t really think about it 😀

    So I’ve bought a K PW, but I’m somewhat scared by the negative reviews. It seems a lot of people see spots of colour (pinkish or bluish) or white/black dots on the screen. Did you have this problem?

    Thank you (and you SO for her patience)


  10. Erik Erikson Says:

    I am planning on getting a PW for my father, as a Father’s Day gift. Is it possible to get the digital version of Newsweek magazine on the PW? I’ve heard from some that they cannot, but haven’t gotten a definitive answer. Thanks!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Erik!

      Great gift!

      Unfortunately, there isn’t a Kindle subscription to Newsweek which would work on a Paperwhite. There is an app, but that’s for the Fire, not for the Paperwhite.

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