Kindle Paperwhite full review

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

It's been available in the US for a little while, but the Kindle Paperwhite is now on sale in the UK. As many people have discovered, you can't buy a Kindle in the US and then use it in the UK to buy content through - it's locked to the US store.

So, it's good news for anyone who's been holding out for a Kindle you can read in the dark. The Paperwhite replaces the Kindle Touch, and costs the same, at £109. See all eReader reviews.

Kindle Paperwhite: screenAmazon Kindle Paperwhite - side vs pencil

The Kindle Paperwhite has the same size 6in screen as the vast majority of previous Kindles. However, the resolution of the E Ink screen has increased from 600x800 to 768x1024, giving it 62 percent more pixels than before.

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This pixel density of 213ppi does make text crisper, but not quite to the degree which Amazon suggests. The main benefit is being able to read text more easily when using the smallest font sizes. Considering the Paperwhite costs the same as the Kindle Touch used to (it's no longer on sale), we're not complaining.

The far greater difference is, of course, the fact that the Paperwhite has a built-in light. Four low-power LEDs light the front of the screen, hence why it (and all other lit eReaders so far) is called front-lit.

This is a feature e-bookworms have been wanting for a long time. Not only does it mean you can read in the dark, such as in bed without disturbing your other half, but it helps with the reading experience the rest of the time too.

The Paperwhite's brightness can be adjusted on a scale from 0-24. This means whether you're in the park in bright sunlight or in a dimly lit room you can get the screen to look perfect. In situations when you think the light is not necessary, it actually helps by giving the text a much whiter backdrop making contrast better than any other Kindle.

We've heard of some users complaining that the light distribution is uneven across the screen but we didn't find this to be an issue with our review sample. On the contrary, it was very even.

Boy reading Kindle Paperwhite in dark

Kindle Paperwhite: build and design

If you're upgrading from an older Kindle, you'll immediately notice the lack of buttons. There's just one: for power. Everything else is done via the touchscreen. You touch pretty much anywhere to go to the next page in a book, on the left to go back a page, or at the top to display the menu.

As it's basically the same size as the non-touchscreen Kindle it should fit in cases designed for that model.

The back has a soft, rubbery feel and the Paperwhite is comfortable to hold in one hand. It weighs 213g, which is more than the 170g £69 Kindle, but it still feels light. Take a look at Amazon Kindle 5 (2012) review.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite screen

The Paperwhite's interface and menus are largely unchanged from the Kindle Touch, with an extra menu item for the light of course. It's very easy to use, including browsing and buying from Amazon's vast catalogue, which also includes newspapers and magazines. Unlike some other stores, prices are competitive, and there's no shortage of titles for under a pound, or even free.

When reading a book, you can easily place a bookmark as well as make notes, or view notes you (or someone else) wrote previously. Amazon's Whispersync means you can pick up where you left off in any book on any device you're signed into - that includes the Kindle smartphone and tablet apps as well as your PC or laptop, or even another Kindle.

There's a 3G version of the Paperwhite for £169, so you can buy and download books even when out of Wi-Fi range. There's no contract for the cellular version - you can use it as much as you want for no additional cost.

Build quality is better than the Kindle Touch, and the Paperwhite looks more stylish in black, too.

You get 2GB of internal storage, of which 1.25GB is available for books. You can also email documents (Word, PDFs and others) to your unique email address. Unlike the cheaper Kobo Glo, there's no slot for adding more memory, which is a bit disappointing.

See also Group test: what's the best eReader?

You may also be interested in Nook Simple Touch GlowLight review and Kobo Glo review

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Kindle Paperwhite: Specs

  • Display: 6" E Ink XGA screen with 768x1024 resolution
  • 16 level greyscale, two-point touch
  • Light: Built-in front-light LEDs
  • Storage: 2GB (1.25GB available for books)
  • Buttons: Power on/off
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and micro USB
  • Dimensions: 117 x 169 x 9.1 mm
  • Weight: 222g
  • Battery: 2-month battery life (Wi-Fi and light off)