Kindle Paperwhite: Amazon's New Amazing eReader

By Kyle Wagner on at

Here's Amazon's new E-Ink Kindle. It's stunning. We'll update with all the details as Amazon provides them.

The Paperwhite is a frontlit reader, which we knew it would be, but it's also got a new display—based on E-Ink's XGA display—that bumps its PPI to 212, up from 169. That's a huge increase, and should be obvious from even a quick glance at the reader. It's even more impressive when you consider the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight stayed with the older Pearl display, which degraded further when it got its frontlight.

It's also got capitative touch, instead of the infrared (IR) touch that every other touch reader had used until now. That will make it loads more accurate, but also thinner because it won't need the big dip between the bezel and the display. That big difference in height was there because the devices needed space to shoot the infrared beams across to pick up your finger. Don't need that anymore, which means thinner Kindles.

Another very cool feature is something Amazon's calling "Time to Read". It displays in the bottom left corner of your page, and tells you how long it will take yo to finish a chapter, or your book as a whole. It actually learns how fast you read a page, throwing out fast flips to go back or forward a bunch of pages, and calculates it for you, as a reader. That's really, really cool, although it's going to be embarrassing when someone sees it's going to take you 38 more days to finish the third Harry Potter book.

The light on the Paperwhite is seems to be incredibly even. Like, remarkably so for a frontlit device. It could almost pass for backlit. It achieves this effect by shining four LED lights from the bottom of the device over a layer of, basically, flattened fiber optic glass. That glass is nano-imprinted with a special pattern to make the light so even. In a nutshell, it captures less light closer to the LEDs, since the light is brighter there, and more light farther away.

Oh, and battery life, which is basically a constant in readers, is rated at 8 weeks with the light on (a medium setting). Amazon uses a half hour per day in its calculations, but that's still pretty good, and impressive considering the light.

The Kindle also looks like it's got a soft rubberised back, like the Kindle Fire. And it's back in black, which, thank goodness after last year's brief dalliance with silver paint.

Paperwhite also has a new home screen, a lot like the Kindle Fire's or the Nook Simple Touch's. It's a small addition, but having nothing but a text-based menu was making the Kindle feel ooooold.

No word on UK pricing or availability just yet and Amazon's silence on the matter is a little ominous.

However, the all-new (old) Kindle is available to pre-order right now for at £69 and will start shipping on September 12th.

This is a huge jump forward for the Kindle. Last year's Kindles were good—fine mostly—but the gap had closed between Amazon and everyone else. Not anymore. Looks like Kindle is king again.

Update: It appears that the Kindle Paperwhite will remain a US-exclusive for the time being. So no 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD and no Kindle Paperweight—ouch.