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Monday
Feb042013

Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader

Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The dedicated eBook reader market is facing formidable competition from full-featured tablets that run a gamut of apps, offer extended functionality, HD screens and are priced just above the eBook readers. Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite offers an improved reading experience and a built-in backlight for the much sought-after low-light reading.

The Kindle Paperwhite is really the ultimate Kindle eReader in the market right now. It carries all the features of the Kindle Touch 3G, the same compact size and the added benefit of a backlight. Available at Amazon.ca starting at $139 for the regular WiFi version and $199 for the 3G version, the Paperwhite has 62% more pixels and 25% increased contrast compared to the previous generation Kindle.

Amazon has slowly but surely gone away from all the extras like audio playback, SDCard slots, a QWERTY keyboard and other Kindle features that added to the cost yet got in the way of the reading component that has been refined through various generations.

Compact and easy to carry, the Kindle Paperwhite boasts new hand-tuned fonts - 6 font styles, 8 adjustable sizes as well as 8-week battery life, even with the light on which is remarkable for such a lightweight device.

Set-up is straightforward and can be done in a few minutes provided you have a WiFi connection (or anywhere if you opt for the more expensive but convenient 3G model). The touch gestures required to navigate the button-free Kindle Paperwhite are quite intuitive and most users will 'get it' after a few hours of use.

As an avid eBook user, I've owned various Kindles and have amassed a few dozen eBooks in my library so it was great to be ablet to get many of these on the Kindle Paperwhite. My older Kindle required a kludgy clip on nightlight for use at night or when traveling on an airplane. Using the Kindle Paperwhite at night was a huge step up in terms of convenience, specially since there are now clearer, newer fonts.

Truth be told, I'd much more inclined to read more or read at night with a Kindle Paperwhite than with an older Kindle with a clip-on booklight. Specially as i share my bedroom with my wife and infant son and and dim conditions are necessary for daytime naps and nightime sleep. 

The Kindle Paperwhite isn't at all harsh on the eyes and doesn't bombard your peepers with the same intensity as backlit tablets would. The built in light is also subtler than an LED booklight, which takes the shotgun approach to lighting what's on the screen.

Compared to the Kobo Glo, which offers similar features in around the same size and form factor (although wihtout the 3G connectivity), the Kindle Paperwhite's illumination isn't as even or uniform.  You can actually see where the bulbs are in contrast to the darker spots that are getting sidelit. The upside is that is seems to have a greater range of settings in brightness, which makes makes up for.

Proper backlighting is a feature that eReader users have been begging for since E-Ink eReaders first came to market in 2003. Amazon's solution is elegant and truly focused on reading. Users now have to decide whether this is worth the money or if they're better off with a Nexus 7-type device. As a Kindle enthusiast, this will likely be my next eBook reader purchase just because I already have various books and generally like the features and experience that the Kindle offers.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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