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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite

With all the advances in tablet technology, the experience of reading a physical book is still preferred by many people – or if not a book, then an e-book with electronic ink instead of an LCD or OLED display. Amazon has had a lot of success with their Kindle e-book readers over the years, and today they’ve announced the latest model, the Kindle Paperwhite.

Scheduled to start shipping at the end of the month (September 30, 2013), the Paperwhite boasts an upgraded display, an enhanced backlight for reading in the dark, and faster processing to speed up page turns. All of the new features are certainly welcome updates, but the price is also substantially higher than the standard Kindle: $119 (with the current special offers) will get you the Kindle Paperwhite, while the previous Kindle is available for $69. There’s also a 3G Paperwhite available for $189, which adds free 3G connectivity with no contracts or monthly fees.

There are plenty of reasons for book lovers to prefer the Paperwhite over reading on a tablet. There’s no glare in bright sunlight, for one, and I personally find the reading experience to be more comfortable on the eyes. The Kindle is also lighter than similar size tablets, and battery life (with WiFi off) is listed as up to eight weeks between charges (depending on your usage, naturally). Battery life incidentally is also rated at twice that of the previous Kindle, though whether that’s thanks to improved technology or simply a larger battery I’m not sure (probably a little of both).

I’m still not 100% sold on digital books over normal paperbacks/hardbacks, but the Kindle has some advantages that can be difficult to overcome – like, the ability to pack along hundreds of books wherever you go, in a device that weighs less than half a pound. On the other hand, there are drawbacks: it’s still classified as “portable electronics”, so you can’t use it during takeoff or landing on a flight, and while Amazon does support “loaning” of books to a friend, other than public domain stuff there’s no equivalent of a normal library that I know of. I also like the ability to dog-ear pages, pull out a highlighter for important passages, scribble notes in the margins, etc. – there are analogs to some of these on the Kindle, but they’re not quite the same.

All told, however, there’s a lot to like with the Kindle, and the Paperwhite builds on that legacy. Electronic ink may not draw pages or refresh as fast as a tablet LCD, but it’s far more comfortable to read and you won’t end up recharging every day, even if you read constantly. For the interested, here’s the full set of specifications:

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Specifications
6" Paperwhite
Exclusive Carta e-paper technology
Next-generation built-in light
212 ppi, 16-level gray scale
6.7" x 4.6" x 0.36"
(169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm)
7.3 ounces (206 grams)
System Requirements
None; fully wireless and no computer required
On-Device Storage
2 GB internal (~1.25 GB available)
Holds up to 1,100 books
Cloud Storage
Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Battery Life
A single charge lasts up to eight weeks
(30 minutes of reading per day, wireless off and light setting at 10)
Battery life will vary based on light and wireless usage
Charge Time
Approximately 4 hours from a computer via USB cable
Wi-Fi Connectivity
802.11n (WEP, WPA, WPA2 security)
Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
Optional 3G Wireless on Paperwhite 3G
Content Formats Supported
Kindle Format 8 (AZW3)
Kindle (AZW)
Unprotected MOBI
PRC natively
Word (DOC, DOCX)
JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP (through conversion)
Warranty and Service
1-year limited warranty included
Optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers
Included in the Box
Kindle Paperwhite, USB 2.0 charging cable and Quick Start Guide
Kindle Paperwhite: $119 promotion, $139 normally
Kindle Paperwhite 3G: $189 promotion, $209 normally

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