What's right (and wrong) with Amazon's new Kindle Paperwhite (2013 model)

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite has seen a significant upgrade, but there are still a few weaknesses present in the retail giant's flagship ereader.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
(Source: Amazon)

Last week Amazon announced that its Kindle Paperwhite ereader was about to receive a significant revamp, and the new device would be ready to fall into the hands of eager readers by the end of the month. I spend a lot of time reading books on my Kindle Paperwhite and so I was keen to take a look at the changes.

So, what does this revamp bring to the Kindle Paperwhite, and in which areas is the device still lacking?

What's right with the new Kindle Paperwhite

Better screen – Let's face it, the screen is the bit that we look at the most, and it is the bit that makes or breaks a device like this. The new Kindle Paperwhite comes with an improved display. Not only has Amazon worked to make the screen crisper, but is also brings better contrast and lower reflectivity to the table.

Better backlight – Another aspect of the screen that's been improved is the backlight. While the built-in backlight on the original Kindle Paperwhite was a huge leap forward for the Kindle ereader, it was far from perfect, suffering from ghosting and odd shadows. The new backlight is far superior, offering a whiter, more even light.

Same form factor – There was nothing wrong with the old form factor, so I'm pleased that Amazon hasn't fiddled with it.

Faster processor – This means a less laggy user interface. I'm not going to say that all lag has been eliminated because it hasn't, but it's certainly a lot better than the original Kindle Paperwhite was. I'd now go as far as to say it is good enought, which is, well, good enough.

Better battery life – It already feels like I hardly charge my Kindle Paperwhite, and the new model means that it spends even less time connected to a power supply.

Page Flip – OK, this is just a software feature, but it is nice to be able to skim through a book without losing your place in it.

Vocabulary Builder – Gimmicky, but fun.

What's wrong with the new Kindle Paperwhite

No earphone jack/speaker – Which means no way for the Kindle Paperwhite to be able to read to me, even if it was in a robotic voice.

No Audible integration – I'm really surprised that there's no way for me to be able to load Audible audiobooks onto the Kindle Paperwhite. At least the sync facility means I can pick up in the book where I left off in the audiobook, and vice versa. I suppose this is one way Amazon can upsell users the Kindle Fire.

3G version is pricy – $70 bucks premium for the 3G version ($189 verses $119 for the base model) feels steep to me, even considering the free internet plan thrown in.

Bottom line

If you're a heavy user of the existing Kindle Paperwhite then this might be a worthwhile upgrade for you, especially if you use it in low-light a lot. However, if you are a light reader then I think you can give this upgrade a miss, unless you desperately want to be on the bleeding edge.

For everyone else looking for an ereader, this is a no-brainer. 

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