Review: Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle paperwhiteA few months ago, I dropped my beloved Kindle. The screen broke, and nothing was able to fix it (sob). It was an older version, about two years old. There were a lot of things I loved about it—the E-ink was actually like reading a book, so I could read for hours without hurting my eyes. The buttons on the side made it easy to turn pages. The built in keyboard was relatively simple to use, and all the other buttons were pretty intuitive. Finally, the 3G made it easy to download books anywhere, anytime.

Unfortunately, they don’t make my old Kindle anymore. Basically all of the things I loved about it are missing or very expensive now. However I dutifully researched the new Kindles, trying to figure out which of the new options I should choose (while secretly grumbling under my breath). I asked you wonderful readers for recommendations, and the overwhelming consensus was that the Paperwhite was the way to go.

I called Amazon directly, and they gave me a 20% discount if I sent back my old one, and an even bigger discount if I purchased a refurbished model.  So my new Papewhite ended up costing around $70. It is Wifi only (so no 3G), and doesn’t get special offers. Here are my thoughts.

The light. I was so afraid of the light on the Paperwhite. Any time I tried to read books on my iPad or laptop my eyes start hurting after just a few minutes. (In fact, as a stopgap measure I tried to just use the Kindle app on my iPad but it was terrrrrible.) The Amazon person explained to me that it’s not really backlighting—it’s actually more like front-lighting. So the light shines down on the words, instead of from behind them (if that makes sense). I don’t know how they do it, but it makes a huge difference. During the day I keep the light off, but in low light situations it’s very convenient. The type is also much clearer, which again makes reading easier.

Wifi. I haven’t needed 3G since I got this Kindle, and honestly I don’t think I ever will. While it would be nice, it just wasn’t worth the extra money for me. However if you spend a lot of time outdoors or away from wifi networks, it would probably be helpful for you.

No keyboard or buttons. The on-screen keyboard is totally fine—I haven’t had any issues with it. However, I wish there was a button to turn the page, and I feel like the pages don’t turn as fast as they did with my old one. There are so many more options now, but they’re not as intuitive as before.

Size. It is so small and light, but the screen is bigger. It is very easy to hold, but I know having a case will make it even better.

Overall, I am very happy to have a Kindle again. The Paperwhite has enough great features that I prefer it over my old one, even if it’s not perfect. Now I just need to pick out a case! Do I want a patterned one, or a blue one, or a super fancy one? I will let y’all know what I decide!

Oh! And one more thing. We’ve had Amazon Prime for a while (hooray 2-day shipping!!), but are just now starting to use the Lending Library. It is nice to be able to borrow certain books without actually buying them. They have a 30 day free trial if you want to try it but aren’t sure it’s for you.

Readers, do you have a Kindle? What do you love about it?

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  1. Nice review. I also have an older kindle about 1 1/2 year. Forget what model. The small one with no keyboard. I love it except I can’t read it in the dark. I’m tempted by the paperwhite but can’t stand to part with my friend. I don’t feel the need for buttons to turn the pages as mine does it with the touch screen. It might not be real fast but I don’t read that fast 🙂

  2. I’ve always been happy with my Kindle app on iPhone and iPad, but this year I got Amazon Prime and I think I can make buying a paperwhite almost pay for itself. I understand the lending library titles are averaging 5.99 each, so year one I get $71.88 back in free reads. I’m figuring I’d get the current $120.00 version and will use my Chase Freedom card for 600 or so UR points which I value at no less than 2 Cents each for another $12.00 rebate. $83+ “rebate”. If the lending library works out, I’ll have paid for it before the end of year 2.

  3. Thanks for your review! Question for you – have you tried reading the Paperwhite outside? Does the back-lighting (er, the “front-lighting!”) make it hard to read in natural light? Using my ipad to read books outside (poolside!) is nearly impossible.

  4. Anna, the backlighting does not make it hard to read in natural light (there is of course, an ability to easily manage the lighting levels). The iPad is substantially different because it uses and LCD screen while the Paperwhite uses an e-ink screen.

    Used to review gadgets as my bread and butter and coincidentally I also did some testing the Paperwhite as a traveling gadget for a while back.

  5. I also recently got a paperwhite (as a gift – score!) I’ve been resistent to kindles because I love traditional books, but it really is very convenient for traveling. I’ve been able to read it in all lighting situations from poolside to airplane to darkened hotel room.

    I got one of the cases that has some sort of hand hold strap thing (I have no idea the right way to describe it), so you just slip your hand through — it makes it more comfortable to use for long periods of time.

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