Ama­zon Kin­dle Paper­white (2015)

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Matt Egan

The Kin­dle Paper­white is Ama­zon’s new­est eReader, which makes it just about the most im­por­tant mem­ber of the en­tire eRead­ing fleet. It sits be­tween the bog-stan­dard Kin­dle and the high-priced Kin­dle Voy­age.

The Kin­dle Paper­white we re­viewed costs a mighty £179 from Ama­zon. This is the top-of-therange spec. If you go with­out 3G con­nec­tiv­ity, and al­low Ama­zon to place ‘spe­cial of­fers’ on your Kin­dle’s home­screen, you can get the cost down to a more rea­son­able £109 inc VAT. Hon­estly, this seems a bet­ter deal to us - even if you don’t like the ad­verts it costs only £119 inc VAT with­out 3G. 3G is use­ful for down­load­ing books wher­ever you are in the world, but you can usu­ally get on to Wi-Fi.

At this price, then, we ex­pect the best. And by and large we get it. The 2015 vintage Kin­dle Paper­white is a thin and light black slab, with roughly the foot­print of a pa­per­back book, but much thin­ner and lighter. To be ex­act it mea­sures 169x117x9.1mm, and the Wi-Fi and 3G model we tried we weighed at around 217g. The Wi-Fi-only Kin­dle Paper­white is a few grammes lighter.

That 9mm thick­ness is enough to make the Kin­dle Paper­white com­fort­able to grip. This is helped by the slightly rub­bery feel­ing of the back, of­fer­ing ad­di­tional grip. And, of course, it’s light.

And we also put the Kin­dle Paper­white through the mill, some­what. It lived in the bot­tom of a work bag, among the de­tri­tus, keys, smelly gym kit and dis­carded tech that we con­sider crit­i­cal workre­lated kit. Two weeks on and there is the odd faint smudge on the back cover, but noth­ing that doesn’t quickly rub away with a fin­ger. The Kin­dle Paper­white is built to last.

It’s not a thing of beauty, but that’s okay. The Kin­dle Paper­white is good at what it does. Its ug­li­ness stems from the thick black bezels that sur­round the dis­play. If this was a smart­phone you would be an­noyed by the wasted space, but in use we found the Paper­white to be the right size to hold and use. And the pix­els didn’t bother us when we were us­ing it to read.

This, ul­ti­mately, is the crit­i­cal as­pect of any eReader. What is the screen like, and how does it feel to read, read, read?

Tech­ni­cally, this Kin­dle has a 16-level grey scale 6in Paper­white dis­play with Carta e-pa­per tech­nol­ogy and built-in light. It has a very de­tailed eReader res­o­lu­tion of 300ppi, as well as what Ama­zon calls ‘op­ti­mised font tech­nol­ogy’.

In lay­men’s terms that means it’s an e-ink dis­play that is back­lit and su­per sharp. It’s a beau­ti­ful read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and when we were read­ing in bed), the back­lit screen was great too. Clear, com­fort­able, but ad­justable so that we could find a light that was not too bright. In­deed, our one com­plaint was that by de­fault the back­lit screen was too bright. You could use that thing as a torch.

Read­ing out­side in di­rect sun­light is also great. A real ad­van­tage of this kind of eReader over a gen­eral tablet. And the Kin­dle’s fonts are truly ex­cel­lent, in the sense that the read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is so com­fort­able.

So far so good. But you are pay­ing a pre­mium for the Paper­white’s 300ppi dis­play. Given that you can pick up a more bog­stan­dard Kin­dle for £59 – al­beit one with­out a back­lit dis­play – is the pre­mium model worth the pre­mium fee? Cer­tainly we would pay ex­tra for the back­lit dis­play, and at £109 the Paper­white is a good deal. But it has to com­pete with the Nook Glow­light, a back­lit eReader that is lighter than the Paper­white – and cheaper. We are not sure that the 300ppi res­o­lu­tion makes it worth the up­grade. Although Ama­zon’s un­sur­passed li­brary, and the fea­ture set, may be.

As well as that un­sur­passed high-res­o­lu­tion 300 ppi dis­play and the built-in ad­justable light, the main fea­tures are Ama­zon’s mil­lions of books in its store, and the fact that you can hold thou­sands of books on the Kin­dle it­self. Ama­zon has built-in some ad­di­tional soft­ware fea­tures.

With­out leav­ing the page, you can query words you don’t un­der­stand in or­der to build your vo­cab­u­lary and learn about char­ac­ters within books. To be hon­est, although these fea­tures work well in our ex­pe­ri­ence, we don’t have much use for them.

A key ad­van­tage of a ded­i­cated eReader is the long bat­tery life. Ama­zon claims that a sin­gle charge will last up to six weeks, and charges via USB in around four hours. That bat­tery life claim is 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 and – reader – it does.

We found that we had to charge it around once ev­ery 10 days. In once case, af­ter a week. This re­viewer com­mutes for two hours ev­ery day and reads for most of that, and tends to read for another half an hour or so in the evening. The back­light is on at least once a day, and I never got around to switch­ing off the wire­less. All of these things will have le­git­i­mately hurt the bat­tery life, but they are also part and par­cel of us­ing a well-loved de­vice.

Clearly 10 days is not six weeks, and we will ad­mit to be­ing mildly dis­ap­pointed with the bat­tery life. Ir­ra­tionally so, be­cause a week is a long bat­tery charge, the Kin­dle warns you in good time, and there are myr­iad USB charg­ers at home. We can hap­pily read in bed at­tached to a charg­ing plug. We sus­pect slightly less than stel­lar bat­tery life is a di­rect re­sult of that amaz­ing dis­play res­o­lu­tion. Hon­estly, we would rather bet­ter bat­tery life.

Ver­dict

The Kin­dle Paper­white is an ex­cel­lent eReader. Bril­liant dis­play, su­perb de­sign and build, and ac­cess to an un­sur­passed li­brary of eBooks. Our only mi­nor quib­ble is about bat­tery life.

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