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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review


A fantastic ebook reader, whose built-in light is currently the best in the business, and the price is right too

Review Date: 19 Oct 2012

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £91 (£109 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £109
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

6 stars out of 6


You could be forgiven for wondering how Amazon could improve on its already excellent range of ebook readers. The Kindle Paperwhite is its answer: initially only launched in the US, the Paperwhite is now available to UK consumers, and a good thing too.

As with the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, the key selling point of the Paperwhite is a built-in light that casts the screen in a soft, white glow. Unlike an LCD-based tablet such as the Kindle Fire HD, devices with E Ink screens require ambient light in order to make them legible.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The light embedded in the Paperwhite’s top bezel means it can be read in bed and in other dimly lit rooms without the need for a lamp. Turned up to maximum brightness, it also gives the page a whiter, more paper-like look in broad daylight.

The light fantastic

The Paperwhite’s light comes in the form of four small LEDs embedded in the top bezel of the device. These shine down through an anti-glare layer in front of the screen and the light they cast is remarkably even. We do like the Nook, but its eight LEDs create a slightly patchier look; the Kindle, at first glance, doesn’t even look lit as the light is so consistently spread across its surface. A closer look reveals some unevenness along the screen’s bottom edge, but after a little while reading it’s easy to ignore.

Put the Nook and the Paperwhite side by side and it’s also clear the Kindle is slightly brighter at its maximum setting, and that text is blacker. Examine characters with a really critical eye, and you may also be able to discern ever-so-slightly crisper text edges, which is down to a higher resolution 758 x 1,024 display.

Indeed, with its light turned up, this Kindle is the closest yet to mimicking print on a page, and Amazon is even quoting impressive-sounding battery life. It says the Paperwhite will last eight weeks with the light on if you read for 30 minutes a day, and it’s impossible to turn the light completely off. Slide your finger down the scale to 0, and there’s still a faint glow, although only visible in the darkest of rooms.

The claims should be taken with a reasonable pinch of salt, though: this is with Wi-Fi off and the light set to level 10 out of 24 (around 40% brightness) – that isn’t bright enough to affect contrast in a sunlit room.

Design and features

It isn’t all about resolution and the light, though. The Paperwhite is the first UK model since the Kindle keyboard to offer a 3G model. It’s £60 more expensive, but offers free 3G or GPRS connectivity across most of Europe, the US and many other countries across the world. You can check out the areas covered using wireless coverage map on the Amazon website.

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User comments

"There’s no support for any kind of EPUB file, however, so unless you resort to illegal methods there’s no way of loading on ebooks from third-party stores"

In what way? Is it the format shifting since EPUB can be DRM free or the DRM?

By tech3475 on 19 Oct 2012

No audio

As well as reduced storage capacity this and other new kindle models no longer have audio capability mean the end of text to speech for those who need it. I'm sure this is not the most widely used feature amongst the millions of kindle owners but it is sad to see it go as it was certainly a step in the right direction to improve accessibility to books without the need to purchase specific audio versions.

By jaibee3 on 20 Oct 2012

Like the sound of this though it would be the wifi only one for me.

My Kindle Keyboard is wifi & 3G but will virtually never connect to 3G. If it so much as picks up the faintest signal from a wifi connection that I've never connected to before, it simply won't go to 3G.

I believe its a common problem with older Kindles.

No idea of its been sorted with this latest version. Still looks good though.

By stormN on 22 Oct 2012

Colour e-nk

I'm waiting for colour e-ink to take off!

By paulandsoulefe on 22 Oct 2012

No epub supoprt, even DRM free epub is an unacceptable oversight.

By JamesD29 on 22 Oct 2012

I've bought my last paper book...

... I've run out of excuses not to buy a Kindle now. My last hardback novel was a pain to drag about and I've already built up a large collection of IT and photography books for the Kindle desktop app.

Dear Santa....

By Jules75 on 22 Oct 2012

I've bought my last paper book...

... I've run out of excuses not to buy a Kindle now. My last hardback novel was a pain to drag about and I've already built up a large collection of IT and photography books for the Kindle desktop app.

Dear Santa....

By Jules75 on 22 Oct 2012

Amazon lock in

But what about all your Kindle purchases being DRM locked to Amazon? Could PC Pro emphasise this before people rush out and buy Kindles, only to get bitten in a few years time when they realise they can't transfer their books to the latest Sony/Kobo/whatever and are stuck with Amazon for ever.

Even Apple came to their senses and started to sells music DRM free eventually.

As impressive as the technology is, until I can legally read my books on whatever device I choose, I'm sticking to paper.

By markvr on 22 Oct 2012

In a story you wouldn't make up, Amazon famously wiped George Orwells "1984" from everyone Kindles, before realising the immense amount of ironic egg on their face, and restoring it.

A quick google for "amazon drm" returns an interesting case of Amazon remotely wiping someones entire Kindle and refusing to explain why:

By markvr on 22 Oct 2012

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