My new Kindle Paperwhite arrived in the mail last Friday and I’ve been enjoying the improved ebook reading experience that came with it every day since. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email confirming that my device had been shipped nearly a week and a half earlier than the projected shipping date from when I placed my order. My new Paperwhite was in my hands on October 4th and it wasn’t even supposed to ship until today at the earliest. I sure do love Amazon sometimes when they hit me with fun surprises like that.
As a voracious reader there are a lot of things that are improved as far as the reading experience is concerned with the Paperwhite over the aging Kindle 2 I was using before. First and foremost is the lighted display. I admit that I was a little skeptical of the whole “leave the light on all the time” concept that Amazon is going with on this device, but after a week of nearly constant use I can say I quite like the way it turned out. The funny thing about the lighted display is how it works best when turned up to the highest setting during the day and while in rooms with the lights turned on and then you turn it down to a low setting at night if you are reading in bed. After thinking about it, that makes perfect sense, but when I first saw the recommendations on the sliding scale for adjusting the brightness I did a double-take.
The best thing about the new lighted screen is that somehow Amazon engineered the technology to be completely unobtrusive. If I’m sitting in my living room I can tell the light is on and it doesn’t wear out my eyes and is so much easier to read than the non-lighted screen I was using previously. But, if you start walking outside, or perhaps are sitting in an office with bright fluorescent lighting the lit screen takes a back seat and seems to almost disappear. It seems like magic to me. Turn the light all the way up and no matter where you go the screen is lit the exact perfect amount. It’s crazy cool.
The second big thing I noticed is that the screen is not just a simple touchscreen. Amazon incorporated various portions of the user interface where you scroll instead of tap through options. The most prominent of these is your actual book listing on the home page. If you have several pages worth of titles you no longer “page” to the next group, instead you “scroll” down similar to how you would on a touchscreen smartphone. A pleasant surprise to say the least. The capacitive touchscreen is quite responsive, if not overly responsive at some points. It has taken me a little practice to get used to holding the Paperwhite without my fingers resting on the screen, something I could do without caring with the Kindle 2.
I’m also quite impressed with how Amazon improved the overall look and flow of the user interface. Some menus have been condensed into more intuitive groupings for finding what you are looking for, others have been expanded and made more robust compared to the options on previous Kindle generations, but never in an overwhelming fashion.
One thing I don’t have for my Kindle Paperwhite as of yet is an actual case. I’m considering the purchase of one, but so far haven’t come across a situation where I desperately need one. The device is rather sturdy and the grip backing makes it much, much easier to hold on to while reading. I always worried while reading my Kindle 2 as I stood on the train that it would slip out of my hands because of its smooth aluminum backing. That definitely isn’t a worry with the Paperwhite.
Waiting nearly three years to upgrade my Kindle was well worth it now that I have my Paperwhite in my hands. The built-in light, the new interface, the touchscreen, and the smaller size are all exactly what I wanted as I thought about what could be improved with my Kindle 2 I had been using. If anyone is still using a Kindle 2 or a Kindle Keyboard I strongly recommend you take a long hard look at the Kindle Paperwhite because for the price you really can’t beat the device you’ll be getting.