I recently got my hands on Amazon’s latest Kindle, the sequel to their widely acclaimed Paperwhite released last week, and having lived with it for a few days thought it high time to share some thoughts on what is expected to maintain market leadership in terms of both sales and quality for Amazon.
To be honest, there isn’t a lot that I can say that you couldn’t read in a review of the original Paperwhite too, as the refresh is certainly not a drastic update, but there are a few noteworthy features that have been tweaked and refined this time around.
Firstly, there’s the speed. Amazon has updated the e-ink display once again and improved on something that most e-reader manufacturers have barely caught up with. The refresh rate of the e-ink is significantly faster than before and bearing in mind my last Kindle was the second generation offering, it’s a marked improvement from what I’m used to.
Secondly there’s the battery life, which has been slightly extended due to a streamlining of the software, and Amazon now suggests that the reader will delivery two months of endurance.
The user interface remains near identical to the previous generation, however Amazon has introduced a couple of new features this time around, the first of which is the vocabulary builder. With this feature, every word highlighted will be added to a folder for later reference. What’s more interesting about the vocabulary builder though, is its ability to offer alternative words based on the books you’re reading and afford the appropriate register based on where you’ve taken the word from. Particularly useful in academic reading.
One of my favourite features of the Kindle is the highly touted X-ray mode. Featured in all books that you download from the Kindle store, this extensive features allows you to select characters, settings etc. from the book and bring up a stream of details about them. It allows you to further examine and analyse the book on the fly, and is undoubtedly a great feature.
Amazon has also introduced a new clipping feature within newspaper reading, which allows you to make a sort of digital scrapbook of newspaper articles and compile it into your own e-book later on. Pretty great for special interest readers, for example.
Last, but not least, the Kindle delivers a world class PDF reading and editing experience, with a wealth of features that you won’t find with any other reader; it really is second to none. You can translate into numerous languages – another great feature – make notes on the file, pinch to zoom and more.
Moving away from comparisons with the previous generation and discussing the device in itself, I would suggest that the rubbery, plastic material used to form the shell of the Kindle is prone to smudges and dirty marks that are quite noticeable. Amazon offers a colourful range of cases for the Paperwhite, which I would wholeheartedly recommend despite their seemingly inflated price. The case, similarly to Apple’s iPad case, sleeps and wakes the device using a magnetic strip, when opening and closing.
I was also not entirely impressed with the default state of ‘suggested reads’ on the homescreen the Kindle. You can turn this feature off, but as standard you’ll be forced to view some tenuously linked books alongside your own collection for advertising purposes. It could prove useful, but I’m certainly glad you can disable it.
The new Kindle is not going to revolutionise the market – arguably that was done last year with the first generation Paperwhite – but it certainly improves in areas that many people could have argued didn’t need improving. At the same price as the old Paperwhite too, it’s a no-brainer for people looking to upgrade from an older model, though perhaps it wouldn’t be too wise to spend a lot on one if you already have the previous Paperwhite as the differences are subtle. The Kindle Paperwhite is the classiest e-reader on the market, and as bold a claim as it is, anything else is a compromise.
Available from Amazon.co.uk
Price: From £109
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