I love my new Kindle Paperwhite. The lighted screen combined with the thin and light form factor has brought back the fun of reading on an e-ink reader. It's not all light and happy, however. In this review I'll also talk about some of the dark sides of Amazon's new Paperwhite.
The Light. Let's start with the best reason to buy this device - the new lighted screen. It truly makes a significance difference in reading. Once you read for 30 minutes with this revolutionary new lighting system, you'll wonder how you ever managed to read the old e-ink displays. Amazon has figured out how to distribute the light evenly across the entire screen for a dramatic improvement in ease of reading. Like others, I've found that I keep the light on in almost every reading condition - with the only possible exception of direct, bright sunlight.
The Shadows. I'd heard so many positive things about this new lighting system that my expectations were off the chart. Perhaps Amazon has slightly oversold here. When I received my new Paperwhite I was concerned because of the four small shadows along the bottom of the device between the lights themselves. I honestly thought I had received a defective device. Then I heard Len Edgerly's weekly Kindle Chronicles podcast and discovered this was normal on all the devices. For me this is no big deal. It impacts only one line of text along the bottom. If I were grading this lighting system, I'd give it a 95% - still an easy "A." The problem is that I was expecting a 100% from all the hype. Compared to all the other non-lighted e-ink readers, the clarity of the reading experience jumps from a B to a solid A, a dramatic improvement.
Look Ma... No Buttons! I love the touchscreen. Amazon has figured out how to make the screen advance or go back a page with just the touch of my thumb or finger. There is just enough of a texturized feel, a fine grain added to the screen, that gives me a good indication of how much pressure I need to apply. It's easy to advance without accidentally changing pages. For those who want to know - I'm jumping a generation from the Kindle Keyboard to this. I didn't buy last year's model, the Kindle Touch, so I can't compare the Touch to the Paperwhite. However, I have heard that this Kindle's capacitive touch is a more responsive than last year's IR interface. And it's miles ahead of having to push buttons on either side of the device to change pages!
How Fast Do You Read? I love the new "Time To Read" function in the bottom left hand corner of the reader. I can toggle between location numbers, time left in the entire book, or - my preference - time left in this chapter. This "Time To Read" function changes to fit your actual reading pace. This is especially helpful when I know I only have so much time and wonder if I can fit in another chapter. It's also helpful when I'm in bed at night and near the end of a chapter. "Hang in there Mark! You can keep your eyes open for 3 more minutes!" With this in mind, I do miss the old inteface of horizontal chapter marks along the bottom. There's also no easy way of advancing directly from one chapter to the next, as was the case with the Kindle Keyboard. (One can use the menu of the Paperwhite, requiring at least 3 taps.)