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The best e-book reader is now even better. While not much has changed on the outside, lot of improvements have happened under the hood. There is a faster processor, the display is brighter, white looks purer and pages refresh quicker. Since there are no changes to the design, most people will call the upgrade as incremental. But, for the real bookworm, all the under-the-hood tweaks make this infinitely better.
Look, it is pretty much a no-content when it comes to the e-book readers. Amazon won that debate, long back... Fair and square. Like the Apple iPod was THE mp3 player and Xerox made THE photocopier (no matter how hard the likes of Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Sony tried with their e-book readers) it was a battle that was lost even before the race began.
The only question that now remains is - which is the best Kindle e-book reader for you?
If you want something that doesn’t go halfway through as a tablet, then the PaperWhite is the purest device you can hope for. And the latest refresh makes it even better.
Build & Design: More of the good old...
On the face of it, the latest PaperWhite remains exactly like the previous edition. Things haven’t changed on the outside. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Clearly, the design is fresh enough for a run with the second generation.
For anyone who is well versed with the previous edition of the PaperWhite, the new model will look exactly the same. The only cosmetic change is that the Kindle branding on the back has now been switched to the Amazon branding. But everything else, right down to the exact finish, remains the same.
The black casing remains comfortable to hold without catching fingerprints that a glossy finish would have naturally accumulated otherwise. The colour itself isn’t pure black, and leans more on the gray-ish side.
The Kindle Paperwhite is put together with very good quality plastic which makes it feel solid to hold. No rough edges, or creaks or dips when you may press down hard on the back. A very subtle contoured detailing around the bottom for the Micro-USB and power button placement on the bottom spine, adds a bit of persona to an otherwise consistent design. The 6-inch PaperWhite e-reader has fairly modest and comfortable dimensions - 169 x 117 x 9.1mm. The ample bezel on the right and left of the screen makes the Kindle PaperWhite extremely comfortable to hold. The 3G version weighs 215 grams which may sound a lot for a smartphone but it is featherweight for a tablet/e-reader; extremely comfortable to hold, even single-handed for long reading sessions. The Wi-Fi only version weighs a little lesser at 206 grams.
PaperWhite Display: The evolution is clear
The traditional e-ink displays have been often criticized for their inability to play along when you may wish to read in low light. This necessitated the need for an external light. However, the PaperWhite display is the evolution, with the built-in frontlight, which makes it equally comfortable to read in the dark or in good ambient light.
Compared to the previous generation, the updated display is a significant step ahead. The brighter frontlight adds a lot more comfort if you are reading and pages refresh and turn a lot quicker thanks to the updated processor (which we do not know much of).
But the big change is the shift from the Pearl e-ink display to the Carta e-ink display. Side by side, the difference is more than apparent. The whites now look purer and the blacks are deeper and closer to realism. All this translates into a much better reading experience because white and black are two colours that predominantly take up the screen most of the time. The new display is supposed to offer 20% improvement in the reflective nature of the screen, and 50% improvement in the contrast ratio. For the latter, you need to compare the displays side by side to know that the 2013 edition brightness needs to be kept a notch lower to get the same or better impact.
The screen itself is easily viewable from any angle and the reproduced text is very clear, irrespective of the lighting around you. What is most impressive is how crisp the text looks and how there's almost zero smudge around each alphabet.
Battery life: Goes on and on and on
Amazon has always had impressive and correct battery life claims for their Kindle e-readers. For the latest generation of the PaperWhite, Amazon says, “A single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on half an hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10. Battery life will vary based on light and wireless usage.” Traditionally, an e-ink display consumes minimal power and that is mostly when the page refreshes. If you happen to be reading during the day, turn down the display illumination and the battery life will improve further. Wireless connectivity always consumes a lot of battery life. Since you can toggle it on or off, we suggest you keeping it off when not downloading a book. Trust us, if we have to give you exact battery life figures, this review would have been published at least a month later!
It is a surprise that Amazon still does not pack in a wall charger with the Kindle and remains an additional/optional accessory. The Kindle package does include a micro USB cable though.
To buy or not to buy?
The best e-book reader is now even better. While not much has changed on the outside, a lot of improvements have happened under the hood. There is a faster processor, the display is brighter, white looks purer and pages refresh quicker. Since there are no changes to the design, most people will call the upgrade as incremental. But for the real bookworm, all the under-the-hood tweaks make this just infinitely better. However, while this is a big update in terms of technology, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must update to the 2013 edition of the PaperWhite in case you happen to own the previous generation. If you are looking to buy Kindle for the first time, Amazon Kindle PaperWhite 2013 is a smart choice.