The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon’s main e-reader. The Paperwhite is neither the top of the line (which is the Oasis), nor the bottom (without backlighting) like the Kindle touch.
With a 6-inch Carta e-Ink screen, the Paperwhite is an excellent mid-tier e-reader, which allows you to comfortably read day or night thanks to its integrated lighting.
Hardware and software: How good is the Kindle Paperwhite?
As far as the hardware goes, it has a Carta e-Ink screen with a good contrast and 1440×1080, 300 ppi resolution. The lighting is mostly harmonious, and even without a blue light filter it’s still pleasant to read on, more so than the Kobo H2O first generation. Its 1GHz processor is plenty big to do its job well. It runs on Linux with an exclusive java framework.
Updated in 2018, the most recent version of the Kindle Paperwhite is similar to its previous version and, compared to its competition, doesn’t offer the possibility of changing the screen tones to filter the blue light, which is unfortunate. The biggest change in this newest iteration of the Kindle is the storage space, which ranges from 8GB in the most basic model to 32GB in the largest. This could prove useful for those who read a lot of manga. And for the others? An improvement of the lighting would have been a good idea!
Reading documents is fluid, as is navigating the interface. Even though it only reads .mobi and .awz3 formats, it’s easy to convert epubs and other document types to these with free software like “calibre”. Once you get the hang of it, converting these documents isn’t hard and this limitation isn’t too big of a deal.
This e-reader’s strong point is tied to this limitation: since this is an Amazon e-reader, it’s linked to the online sales giant’s services. The Kindle store boutique is easy to use, and the choices are impressive. Furthermore, you can use the Xmark tool to see what passages other readers have underlined or made notes on, or even share your own. Of course, all this is optional. Those who wish to stick with private usage can leave their e-reader on airplane mode and it will never connect to Amazon’s servers.
As for the reactivity, this device is quicker than the Kobo e-reader that I had the chance to try out. Which makes it very pleasant to use. Another point to hit on is the touch screen’s precision: while it can sometimes be complicated to click the right spot to see a note on a Kobo e-reader (whether it’s a foot note or an endnote), it’s incredibly easy to do on a Kindle (the Paperwhite and the other models) and the notes are shown quickly and cleanly. You can also easily consult the endnotes and then return to your page. This is certainly a huge plus for students or those who read a lot of non-fiction. With underlining, underlined portions are copied into a text file, which makes exporting these citations easy when you connect your e-reader to your computer.
The kindle also has a good default PDF reader, as well as the option to automatically “rework” PDFs and adapt them to the 6-inch screen when you send them to the email address linked to the Kindle. This will automatically convert the files before transferring them onto your e-reader! If you’re looking for an e-reader to use for reading nothing but PDFs, we recommend that you take a look at our article dedicated to the best e-readers for viewing PDFs.
It’s not possible to change the default standby screen without jailbreaking the device. By using a specific program, you can install an extra key on the device, which will allow you to install programs that aren’t approved by Amazon. Then you can customize the standby screen, add fonts, or even install outside software for reading PDFs or naturally opening Epubs, such as Koreader or Coolreader. While it was relatively easy to do on firmware (the e-reader’s internal software) before 5.8.7, jailbreaking has become much more complicated on more recent version. If you’re up for the challenge, we recommend checking out the instruction on mobileread’s wiki.
Our review: an e-reader with an unmatched price/quality ratio.
Thanks to Amazon’s dominance of the online sales market, Kindles are competitively priced compared to its competition and offer high-quality gear and a great user experience. While they’re designed to be linked with an Amazon account, you can still use them to read documents that you’ve purchased on other sites, as long as they’ve been converted from epub to .mobi.
Paperwhites are available on amazon.com for less than $150, which makes them great for those who want to buy a high-quality e-reader without breaking the bank. It’s possible to find them second hand on ebay, or to save a few bucks ordering a refurbished kindle on amazon (often less than $100). A good alternative is the Kobo Clara HD. While it’s less capable of naturally opening PDFs, it handles ePubs better and also offers adaptive lighting (natural light: the option of adjusting the lighting to more yellows/oranges). Both are fairly priced. For those who are looking for a slightly bigger screen as well as the ability to change the brightness, we recommend the Kobo H2O version 2.