Friday, May 20, 2022

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) initial review

Amazon has announced a new Kindle Paperwhite, the company’s most popular ebook reader, which offers front illumination on the display to make it easy to read in any conditions.

The previous design of the Kindle Paperwhite was announced in 2015 and has had a rather long life. There’s a new Kindle Paperwhite in town, so what’s changed?

New flatter design

  • Light and thinner
  • Flat display
  • IPX8 waterproofing

The previous Kindle Paperwhite had a pronounced bezel to it, framing that display, but also forming a physical barrier. It’s rather dated in design and while it has never been excessively chunky, the new design is all about slimming things down.

Since the launch of the 2015 Paperwhite, Amazon has launched a couple of top-tier devices in the Kindle Oasis. This premium reader is a radical change in direction in terms of design, but the new Paperwhite doesn’t adopt all of those elements.

Pocket-lintAmazon Kindle Paperwhite review image 5

Importantly, the display loses the pronounced bezel, so it’s now a flat finish. Amazon hasn’t completely removed the bezel, but then you still need some space to grip the Kindle without turning the pages (which happens through a tap or swipe on the display). Some might say that compared to the latest smartphones the look isn’t hugely progressive. 

That’s true to an extent, but then you don’t really need that in an ebook reader – and if you do, there’s the Kindle Oasis to serve your needs, which looks a lot more exciting. 

The rear of the new Kindle Paperwhite is a rubberised non-slip finish; the Kindle has for a long time stuck to black plastics and there isn’t a huge change here, but one of the important changes is the introduction of IPX8 waterproofing. This means that if you’re caught in the rain and your bag leaks, or you drop your Kindle in the pool, then it won’t get damaged. 

An E Ink display with better illumination

  • 6-inch, 300dpi E Ink display
  • Laminated for scratch resistance
  • Front illumination 

The Paperwhite is all about the illumination on the front of the display. This is radically different to the display on a tablet, because it’s just lighting the surface, so you can read the monochrome E Ink in the dark. Because it’s not using LCD technology, it’s very economical with power, giving you about 6 weeks of use. (Actually, the battery life is mostly dictated by how many page turns you make and how frequently you’re accessing information online, as well as the display brightness.)

Pocket-lintAmazon Kindle Paperwhite review image 8

There are now five LED illuminators and at first glance, they appear to cast the illumination across the display evenly. We’ve not had the chance to test the new Kindle Paperwhite out in all conditions, so we can’t yet say how it compares to the Oasis, but we suspect it will be similar or better than the outgoing Paperwhite.

The display remains the same size as it was before – 6 inches on the diagonal – the only larger device is the second-gen Oasis which is 7 inches. But then you don’t need a huge display – it’s about the same size as a traditional paperback. As with the old Paperwhite, it’s 300dpi – so perfectly sharp for the job it’s doing. 

There’s no auto adjustment of illumination as you’ll find in the new Oasis (and the now defunct Voyage), so adjustment is manual. To be honest, that should suit most people fine, but if you’re reading in daylight, you might as well turn the illumination off, because you won’t need it. 

New Paperwhite, new features

  • Quick access to font presets
  • Bluetooth support for Audible books 

One of the new additions launching on this Paperwhite is shortcut access to different profiles. The Kindle offers a range of different fonts, sizes and spacings. Rather than having to manually change this for each reader, you can easily make presets and then access them on the fly. 

It’s perhaps a little niche in terms of usability – if it’s only you using your Kindle, you might never make any changes after the initial setup to your preferences. Amazon suggested that if you’re sharing reading, perhaps with a child, then that makes it easy – perhaps making the text larger for a younger child to read themselves, before switching to a denser view for reading to them.

Pocket-lintAmazon Kindle Paperwhite review image 11

Perhaps a bigger addition is compatibility with Audible. Audible is Amazon’s audiobook company and in many cases you can buy both the written and spoken book at the same time. Kindle, through WhisperSync, will let you jump from one form of the book to another, with the Kindle Paperwhite now offering Bluetooth so you can connect to speakers or headphones.

It’s an interesting addition, but we suspect that many would use a smartphone for Audible rather than the Kindle. Still, it’s there if you want it. Aside from the standard 8GB storage version, there will also be a 32GB version (with 3G), but you’ll have to pay more for it. 

First Impressions

The Kindle Paperwhite’s design was looking a dated and the new version helps to give this device a slightly fresher look. More importantly, there are practical tweaks to what the Kindle offers – removing the bezel means this device will be easier to clean and the addition of waterproofing will make it an even better companion for your holiday. 

We’ve not yet had the chance to use the new Kindle Paperwhite over an extended period of time, but we’ll update once we’ve had the chance to explore it thoroughly. 

The new Kindle Paperwhite is now available to pre-order, priced at £119 in the UK and $129 on Amazon US. It will be shipping from 7 November.


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