Do you have any idea how hard it is to review a Kindle? Sure, the first time you can talk about look and feel and ease of use but Amazon’s devices are so slickly put together that those things are all but implicit with the purchase these days. The 3G version has been on the market for ages so all we’re really left with is the Paperwhite display and the book-like performance (plus a few upgrades) – it’s a lot like being asked to review an actual book with no content in it.
But this is Stuff, where nothing is impossible to review, so we’re going to do this and do it well.
Maybe you’ve somehow never come across a Kindle before, never had a chance to use one or are one of those book purists that refuse to switch to an electronic device for your reading needs. We get that last one, there’s something wonderful about dead-tree books that the Kindle, or any other e-reader, just cannot capture. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have both experiences.
In general using a Kindle is like reading a book, thanks to the e-paper screen. The older models had those lovely side buttons that turned the pages – we still miss those – but touchscreen versions of Amazon’s reader let you flip pages back and forth by poking the screen on the side you want the pages to turn to. It’s like a real book in most instances, only you can’t fit an entire library in your backpack. But there’s no convincing people, no matter what features and functions are available. You just need to try it out yourself.
Supported Formats: AZW3, AZW, TXT, PDF, PRC, MOBI, HTML, DOC, DOCX
Connectivity: 3G (baked-in), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Dimensions/Weight: 169mm x 117 x 9.1/206 grams
But if you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, then Kindle’s latest Paperwhite e-reader is the device to get. The only reason to even consider something else is budget and even then, you’re probably going to be looking to grab a lower-cost Amazon device over anything else on the market. The Kindle Paperwhite 3G that we had for review has basically nothing to toy with, there’s just an on-button and then the touchscreen interface to get you going. And that’s more than enough.
The black casing is stylish and solid, offering sturdier construction than earlier Kindle models but it still manages to be lightweight enough to remain on your person constantly. The upgraded shell is a nice partner for the display, which has been given a resolution update. You might not think that a 16-bit black and white display would benefit from a higher resolution but you’d be very wrong. More detail, something that is very evident with the maps that are part of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series, means a crisper picture and crisper text – it’s very easy on the eyes.
The Paperwhite moniker comes in because Amazon have side-lit the displays for these readers – meaning that when Eskom is having one of its little moments late in the evening, you won’t have to just give up and go to bed. Reading can continue in low lighting conditions. Just be sure to adjust the brightness settings during daylight hours. Even though the Paperwhite’s side-lighting is designed to remain bright enough to read in almost any conditions without destroying your eyes, the default setting will blind you if you first activate it in a wholly darkened room. Drop it to 4 and your eyes will thank you.
In short: the Paperwhite portion of this device is awesome. The Kindle can now be used anywhere, at any time, unless you’re underwater or something. The battery life, even with the added backlighting, is still as good as ever. It can stay on standby seemingly forever and it’ll take more than a week of constant (8 or so hours a day) of reading to deplete it when in use. Those are good numbers.
Poor Impulse Control
The 3G functions that Amazon have thrown in led to a severe depletion of credit-card funds in the Stuff offices. We switched from a non-touchscreen, WiFi only Kindle to this device for the review and while the older device was like carrying a modest library around, it wasn’t like also carrying the contents of an entire bookstore – a store where everything was accessible at the touch of a button and delivered instantly, as long as you had a cellular signal handy. We’re terrible when walking down Temptation Isle on the way to the cashiers at the supermarket so giving us ALL the books at a moments notice got… expensive. But the convenience… 3G is also speedy enough, though not a patch on what you’ll be able to do when connected to your home WiFi setup.
We’ve used Kindles for ages and we know just how long they manage to last, unless a dog, natural disaster or something similar happens to them. If you’re still using a non-backlit device or have never picked one up ever, the 3G Paperwhite should be your first port of call. Ditto if you’re looking at upgrading, you wealthy person you. This one could very well last you a lifetime. Take note though, if you’re after more than just a book replacement then perhaps Amazon’s Fire HD is for you. You’ll be missing out on that glare-free side-lit e-paper screen but that’s not much of a price for some.