Kindle Paperwhite 2: first impressions and menu map

Kindle Paperwhite 2: first impressions and menu map


Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers

is here!

Let me first say that it was particularly easy to set up. They’ve been improving that, with on-screen guidance. All I needed was my wi-fi network password, and the rest of it was easy.

They even gave me a choice to set up parental controls, although I skipped that.

I’d say it took less than a minute to get itself up and running the first time.

It knew its name (“PowPow”), and it showed me the device time so I could confirm that it got it right (it did). I had my Cloud/archives, and was ready to go.

It did still have to index the (wait for it)…Kindle User’s Guide! Yes, it came with an onboard User’s Guide, not just online, which was nice.

It came about half-charged: people do ask about that sometimes.

The screen is quite evenly lit: you don’t have those “smudgy” spots on the bottom that you had with the Kindle Paperwhite 1.

I like the raised “Amazon” on the back of the device…it gives it a bit of tactility.

It does seem brighter and clearer. Even at the lowest lighting setting, there was still a bit of light, but it was quite, quite dim…even with my superior night vision, I would have been challenged to read at that setting in full darkness.

Now for the menu map (I’m on version 5.4.0):


Displayed along the top was my name for the device, wi-fi and the strength, the battery indicator, and the clock.

The first toolbar below that was

  • Home
  • Back
  • Lighting
  • Cart
  • Search
  • Menu

The menu button had

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • View Special Offers (I chose to have those)
  • Cover/List View (it came set in Cover View…I switched it to list, my preference)
  • Create New Collection
  • Sync and Check for Items
  • Settings*
  • Experimental Browser

Below that was

  • Cloud | On Device (similar to the PW1)
  • My Items (with a dropdown: All Items; Books; Periodicals; Docs; Active Content)
  • The sort (Recent; Title; Author; Collections

On the device were:

  • Kindle User’s Guide
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Dictionaries (2 items: The New Oxford American Dictionary; Oxford Dictionary of English)

At the bottom of the device, it told me what page of items I was on, and how many pages there were all together…and there was an ad, less than an inch tall.

I’d say it isn’t a hard adjustment at all from the PW1.

Let’s take a look at the

* Settings

That’s where a lot of the fun stuff will be. 🙂

  • Airplane Mode (on or off…they explain that you should “Turn on Airplane Mode to disable wireless connectivity.”)
  • Wi-Fi Networks (tapping that showed me the available networks, and that page included “Other…” and “Rescan”
  • Registration (showed by name, and tapping it would let me deregister it)
  • Device Options…I’m going to drop to sublist for this one:
  • Device Passcode
  • Parental Controls (Web Broswer on or off, Kindle Store on or off, Cloud on or off…deregistration and reset device are disabled when Parental Controls are active. With the store locked, you can still Kindle store books on your computer and send them to the device…that’s how it was on the PW1 as well)
  • Device Time
  • Personalize your Kindle (Device Name…you can change it on the device, without going to Manage Your Kindle)
  • Personal Info (you can add whatever you want here, including contact information)
  • Recommended Content (displayed in Cover View…on or off)
  • Send to Kindle E-mail (you have to edit it on Manage Your Kindle, but it is displayed here)

Back to the Device Options Menu

  • Language and Dictionaries…time for another submenu:
  • Language (Deutsch, English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Espanol, Espanol (Mexico), Francais, Francais (Canada), Italiano, Portugues (Brasil), and two which I think are Japanese and simplified Chinese)
  • Keyboards (you can choose to add keyboard in the above languages…and yes, it confirms them as Japanese and simplified Chinese
  • Dictionaries (you can set the default dictionary here for the language you are using)

Reading Options menu

  • Manage Vocabulary Builder (on or off…controls whether or not it remembers dictionary look-ups, and whether or not Vocabulary Builder appears on the homescreen)
  • Page Refresh (you can make it refresh every “page turn” if you want
  • Social Networks (connect to Facebook or Twitter…and view Amazon’s privacy policy)

Okay, once you are in the Settings area, you can hit Menu again to get

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Restart
  • Reset Device
  • Legal
  • Sync and Check for Items

Within a book, you tap towards the top middle to bring up the toolbar…oh, and it displays the name of the book on the top line, where the name of the device normally is.

Below that, you get:

  • Home
  • Back
  • Brightness
  • Cart
  • Search
  • Menu

This menu, though, is different:

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Book Description (yes, it sill connects to the website to get you that)
  • About the Author (won’t always be available)
  • Landscape/Portrait mode
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read
  • Reading Progress
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Settings (this is the main Settings choice above)

Below that is

  • Aa (font size, font ((Baskerville; Caecilia, which is the default; Caecilia Condensed; Futura; Helvetica; Palatino)), line spacing, and margins)
  • Go To (Contents, Notes, Beginning, Page or Location…and specific chapters, then End. A separate tab in Go To brings you to your notes, which are nicely displayed…you can delete or share them from here)
  • X-Ray
  • Share
  • A multiple bookmark looking icon, which lets you jump to your bookmarks…click the plus on the top one to add a bookmark to this page

Not intuitive to me was that at the bottom of the screen, there was a things which told me the chapter I was in, what location I was on, and how many minutes were left to read in the chapter. Tapping it brought up the new Page Flip feature, which is really cool. You can preview pages, moving ahead or backwards with arrows, without losing your place. There is also a location slider, to adjust where you are in the book. The location slider also had a “chevron walks into a bar” icons (>|) which lets you jump by chapters…but just in Page Flip. It looks to me like you could figure out where you want to go with Page Flip, and then use the Go To button to get there.

“Long-pressing” (holding your finger or stylus on it for about a second) a word in a book gave me an X-Ray definition first, and a choice to get “More on Shelfari”. Tapping that brought me to the Shelfari (owned by Amazon) page for the current book…lots of info there).  I could also open the full X-Ray for that book.

I had a choice to see the Dictionary definition, or Wikipedia. I tried the Wikipedia search with Airplane Mode on…it didn’t like that much.

I could also search This Book, All Text, or the Kindle Store.

Tapping “More” gave me:

  • Highlight
  • Add Note
  • Share
  • Translation ( to Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)
  • Open X-Ray
  • Report Content Error

Dragging a set of words (which seemed much more responsive than on the Kindle Paperwhite 1) gave these options:

  • Add Note
  • Highlight
  • Share
  • More (Search, Wikipedia, Translation ((which did do the whole phrase)), Report Content Error…all similar to above)

Overall, it does seem nicer than the Kindle Paperwhite 1, but not a quantum leap forward. I’ll need more experience with it, but I wouldn’t say you need to rush to upgrade from a KPW1…but I will say it is better. 🙂

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

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

37 Responses to “Kindle Paperwhite 2: first impressions and menu map”

  1. scottishbookworm Says:

    What are the options for page refresh? Does it only refresh every chapter?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, scottishbookworm!

      The only concrete information they give you with the button is every page or not every page. 🙂 It’s unlikely to be based on chapters, since chapters vary in length.

      I tested it quickly for you. On the default (fourth smallest) font size, it appeared to me to refresh on the 14th page turn. None of the pages had illustrations, and that could affect it…I assume the limit has to do with information it has stored in one chunk.

  2. Pam Says:

    Kindles are sure making it hard to go back to paperbacks! I’m reading a library book now and have wanted to tap words for definitions! Plus holding a book seems awkward and heavy now. I guess I’m just a Kindle convert! Do you like reading on the paperwhite more than a tablet? Since they’re both lit up, how is it different? I do most of my reading on my iPad mini even though I have a K3. I gave my KFire1 to a family member since I just didn’t use it anymore. Thanks for the excellent reviews, Bufo!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Pam!

      In terms of the Paperwhite and a tablet, the difference is which way the light is pointed. 🙂

      On a tablet (and other backlit devices), the light is pointed directly at you (and your eyes). The light is behind what you are reading…picture somebody having written a poem on a window, and you are outside the house at night reading it by the light coming from inside the house. Or, less charitably, picture one of those cop shows where they interrogate a suspect by shining a light in their eyes. 😉

      With the Paperwhite, the light is pointed at the screen, and you read by the light bouncing off the screen…the same way you read a paperbook or you see a tree.

      Picture…a flashlight. With the Paperwhite, you are under a blanket, pointing the flashlight at the book you are reading. With a tablet, you are in your car reading, and a cop shines a flashlight in your window and you turn to look and it and the light hits you in the face.

      That makes a tablet sound terrible for reading, and the Fire hasn’t been for me. I do most of my reading on the Fire now: the light doesn’t bother me, but I have weird vision which might affect that. When I read in bed, I actually have the lights out in the room, and the Fire turned down as far as it can go.

      I do like the feel of reading on the Paperwhite better…but not so much better that I won’t read on the Fire.

      The next gen Fire (mine should be here October 18th) is supposed to have worked with the issue of reading outside…it can’t fix the issue, but I’ll be interested to see what the improvement is like.

  3. Phink Says:

    You named yours PowPow and I always give each device a unique name. I stole your Mindle name for that one until I gave it away to help out a relative. I hope you don’t mind. For this one though, I am thinking Zippo as in “hey, you got a light.” Not sure though as I hate all things to do with cigarettes. It’s the leading name now. My favorite name was what I gave my Touch (Phalanges). The last PW Lumos after a Harry Potter spell. Maybe Edison, after the inventor. I think I like that too. I can’t wait to get mine later. People are already making fun of me because I just had to have the latest and greatest when it comes to kindle LOL.

  4. Phink Says:

    You probably know this but one can get $70 for their old Paperwhite from Amazon with free shipping if it’s in like new condition. The next rated condition (forget the name) is $65. I just printed my shipping label. What’s strange is the 3G is only 25 cents more or $70.25 in like new condition.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Excellent point! I didn’t realize it was that much. I was planning to write something about that program, so I’ll review it in more depth.

  5. amy Says:

    Do you have strategies for managing your kindle library OFF the kindle device, where there are no collections? Maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t organize my library into books I’ve read, reference materials, etc, so every time I’m looking for something to read I either have to remember a specific title I own or look through hundreds of titles. It’s like not being able to go to my mystery shelf when I’m in the mood for a mystery. I know you’ve said you don’t keep that much on your kindle, so how do you manage to sort your library? Feel free to move this out of the comments. I just couldn’t find another way to contact you easily.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Amy!

      I assume comments is an okay place for this, since you suggested it was up to me…works for me, certainly.

      What you are asking for is one of the new things which has been announced, but isn’t here yet. 🙂

      Amazon refers to the storage they have for you on their servers as The Cloud or Archived Items, and you access it at

      in addition to on your device.

      Until this new feature arrives (and it is stated as “Coming Soon”…my guess is by November), these isn’t a way to organize them in the Cloud.

      Some people maintain lists elsewhere (a spreadsheet, for example).

      For me, I just remember, believe it or not. 🙂 Yes, we have literally thousands of books in our archives, but I am a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager with something like 10,000 paperbooks on shelves in my home. I’m pretty good at remembering what I have, and then I can search for that specific title.

  6. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Is it possible to choose between “full justification” or “left justification” of text on the new Paperwhite? The last update to the K3 caused a lot of books to suddenly go from left justification to full justification. It might look good in the smaller sized fonts, but in the larger sizes, it causes huge gaps between words and makes the text very hard to read.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Nope, no setting for justification…margins and line-spacing, but not justification.

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  8. Tom Says:

    I just got my KPW2 and agree with your assessment. There are some nice little improvements but nothing too major. I did run into one nasty surprise with removed functionality though. I use my Kindle almost entirely for foreign reading, and I like to be able to look up a word in either a native or English language dictionary. In 5.3.8 on the KPW1 they added the ability to switch dictionaries while viewing the definition upon long-pressing a word. In 5.4.0 that comes with the KPW2, this doesn’t seem to be possible anymore! I can’t believe they removed this feature, less than a month after they added it. It was so useful! 😦

    Now the only way to switch dictionaries appears to be to go into the main settings and change your default dictionary for the language. This is so much slower and more cumbersome that I would never do it while reading unless I was really desperate.

    I was also really hoping for more from the vocabulary builder, but it’s at least a (small) step in the right direction I guess.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      PowPow is on a little loan-out to someone right now, but I think I’ll have it back tomorrow. I’ll test that question as one of the first things.

      I’ll say right off that the new software isn’t static, and that there may be updates in short order (there have been in the past with some devices).

      It could be that the feature wasn’t popular (I’ve loved unpopular features personally before…I’m kind of used to that), and it could be that the new, fancier look-up wasn’t friendly for that.

      I’ll let you know if I figure out anything more. 🙂

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Just a follow-up for Tom:

        I have them side-by-side (PowPow and Mills, my 1st and 2nd gen Paperwhites), and I can confirm that the ability to switch easily to another dictionary when looking up a word is no longer there.

        I’ll try to test some more options (is it possible they show definitions from more than one dictionary at a time, for example?), but I’m not seeing anything right now.

      • Tom Says:

        Thanks for checking on that! I’ve spent some more time with it and come up with a few theories as to why they removed it. At first I thought it was just because it didn’t really jive with their new tabbed interface, but they could’ve found some other way to expose the feature. Then I realized it could be related to the new vocabulary builder, which automatically adds looked up words to a vocab list. In the vocabulary builder you can view the word’s definition in the dictionary or its context from where you looked it up. Maybe they didn’t want to deal with having to support multiple definitions from multiple dictionaries, or having to pick just one when it might not be the one the user wants, or keep track of which one the user wants.

        In any case, I think those are all still lousy reasons to remove such a useful feature. There are much better ways to resolve the situation, like letting the user explicitly choose to add a word to the vocab list while viewing their desired dictionary definition. Honestly I’m not sure why they made it “auto-add-everything or nothing”. I don’t really want to add every word I look up to the vocab list. Sometimes I’m 90% sure and just want to confirm, or the dictionary doesn’t find the word correctly. Then I end up having to remove a bunch of undesired entries from the vocab list later if I want to use that feature. I don’t think they really thought this stuff through very well. Hopefully it will improve in future updates but my temptation to write my own reading app optimized for foreign language study is growing. I just hate to give up the e-ink experience.

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  11. kay york Says:

    I got my paper white in late spring as a replacement for the original lost one (simple kindle) and then reappeared! My daughter bought this one as a gift. I loved the original, because my collections stayed put. Now they bounce all over the place and I can’t find anything. I love the light, but not having easy access to collections. Help!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, kay!

      I’d be happy to help, but I’m a bit confused. Tell me more about what you mean by the Collections “bouncing all over the place”. Do they re-sort? Do the e-books stay in the Collections?

  12. kay york Says:

    On the old Kindle when you made collections everything stayed in the collection. You can make collections on the paper white like on the other Kindle – in fact they transfered right to my new Kindle. On the old Kindle on the screen was jt my list of collections and any newly downloaded books not yet added to a collection. On the new Kindle I have book titles interspersed with collection headings. I have tried to delete and add to collections, but I still get the same mess. I just want collection headings and not book titles interspersed. Does that make more sense?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, kay!

      Yes, that helps. 🙂

      What you are describing sounds like it isn’t sorted by Collections. I think my Signficant Other has my first gen Paperwhite right now, but I checked it on my 2nd gen (and I’ll check the other one later).

      In your top right corner of the homescreen, does it say “Recent”? If so, tap that and switch it to “Collections”. That’s pretty much the way it worked on the other ones, too.

      If that doesn’t fix it, let me know.

      You can also check with Amazon:

      Update: I checked the first gen Paperwhite: it’s the same on this as the 2nd…

  13. kay york Says:

    I am so happy! I am so happy! What an easy fix to a frustrating problem. Lol Thanks a million!

  14. Dmitry Gorochovsky Says:

    Does it has arrow to change dictionary, when selecting a word, like previous Paperwhite?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dmitry!

      Unfortunately, no, it doesn’t, and I do have the latest update.

      They’ve done a very nice implementation of that with the latest Kindle Fire HDX update, but not on the new Paperwhite.

  15. Dmitry Gorochovsky Says:

    Another question. On some review I saw screenshots of kindle displaying book cover when switched off (and not default screen saver). How do I enable this option?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dmitry!

      There isn’t an option on the Kindles to display the current book cover. My guess is that what you saw was an ad for a book: those display on ad-supported devices (which is why you get them at a discount).

      It’s also possible (I’ve seen this happen in reviews before) that the wrong device was displayed. The Kobo does have that ability.

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  17. Peggy Moore Says:

    I received my Kindle about three years ago and I just love it. BUT,
    recently they changed the navigation menu.. Mine has a home, back, settings, goodreads and cart. Then a magnifying glass. Lastly it has three dots that appears on some of the books, what do those denote? How do I delete the books that I have read. How do I find out how much space I have left. The new menu confuses me. Can I have the old one back??

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Peggy!

      Yes, there was a major update recently.

      The “three dots” represent a menu. Tap that, and you’ll see a lot of interesting choices. That should be on all book when you tap towards the top middle of the page.

      Tap that menu in a book, then tap Setting. Tap the menu again, and you’ll see a choice for Device Info…that will tell you the space available.

      Deleting a book hasn’t changed: hold your finger or stylus on a book on the homescreen for about a second and you see the choice.

      I think you’ve gotten the 5.7.2 update: my menu map may make it less confusing:

      You can also contact Kindle Support at

      when you have questions.

      Generally (and in this case), you can’t reverse an update. Partially, it would be confusing for you to get support if there were many versions out there. In this case, I think that going backwards would probably prevent you from getting to Amazon on your device (your archives/Cloud, the Kindle store) after March 15th. They are making a change to how the access is made, presumably to make it better, and it just won’t be backwards compatible…my best guess is that is simply a technical issue.

      • lilpeggy Says:

        Bufo, you are a god send. I am a very senior citizen and not very savvy with electronics, but I did understand my first instructions. I am working thru the info you sent me and I am getting some of it. I think I am a work in progress. Am still unable to find Device Info. I followed all of your instructions to find other things but no success with my device info. I am worried that I don’t have enough room on my Kindle for all of my books. I do understand giga bites. Do I have gigs on my Kindle? If so, I will stop worrying. I know a gig is a lot of room. When do you suggest getting a new Kindle? Once in a while mine will shut down. I turn it literally off for a while and I can usually get it to come back on but is this the start of problems? My biggest problem is that when I start to read my book again, I find I have jumped ahead sometimes pages and as much as 1+ chapters. I hope you continue to be out there for us Kindle users because it is my life and I will always need YOUR help. Thank you so much. >

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, lilpeggy!

        Thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate that!

        Well, remember that the “Greatest Generation” (who experienced World War II) really invented computers and programming (and Grace Hopper, later an admiral, was super important for the latter), and Baby Boomers created home/consumer electronics. 🙂

        To check the memory, try this

        1. Go to your homescreen, where you have your list of books
        2. Tap on the menu (three horizontal lines in your top right corner)
        3. Tap Settings
        4. Tap on the menu again (same place)
        5. Tap Device Info

        You should see “Space Available” at the bottom. Right now, I have 1,148 MB free…and yes, a 1,000 megs (megabytes…MBs) roughly equal a gig (gigabyte…GB). 🙂

        I think you may find you have a lot less…the issues you are describing might be related to how many items you have on your device. I usually only keep about 10 Kindle store items actually on my device (except for the ones which have our “guest bookshelf”…those have a bit more than 100).

        If that’s not the case, generally restarting it (turning it off and on, as you have been doing) will usually fix most issues.

        Generally, you don’t need to replace a Kindle until it I lost/stolen/dies (a broken screen, perhaps)/or you want new features. 🙂

        If it’s giving you a lot of problems, you could replace it…the books you bought from the Kindle store will be available to the new device, provided it is registered to the same account. There is a step short of that: you can “reset” (not restart) your Kindle to factory defaults. That will wipe everything off it you’ve done to it, except for those updates Amazon does. I’ve done it, but it’s usually a “last resort” sort of thing. If you do want to do that, it’s in the same menu as Device Info above.

        Hope that helps…

  18. lilpeggy Says:

    Bufo, thanks once more for all of your help. Your instructions are extremely helpful. I am able to find all kinds of “stuff”. If it is ok I will continue to reach out to you with my little problems/questions. You are terrific.

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