The printed page may still be a winner for reading books, but electronic readers and tablets are certainly making an impact on how people read the titles they’re into, and if you like knowing your device is as sharp as possible, a new Kindle might be worth looking into.
That’s the feeling we’re getting this week after taking a look at a Kindle that has hit our review desk, so consider this a first look and hands-on from where we’re sitting of Amazon’s 2015 edition of the Kindle Paperwhite.
Most people are probably familiar with the “Kindle” name and how it connects to the eBook revolution that has been happening for a good seven years or so, when Amazon decided to change the world with the sale of digital books and an eReader that could get these files easily through Amazon’s own marketplace.
We’ve seen quite a few models over the years, with thinner bodies, optional keyboards to leave notes, and even software to let you take your books with you on phones, tablets, and computers, but this year, Amazon’s focus is on clarity.
Specifically, it is with a new clearer type of electronic ink screen than previous models have had, relying on a 6 inch 1448×1072 display that produces a whopping 300 pixels per inch, which should at least be on par with the printed word you get with a real book.
Few can probably tell the difference, beyond putting your eye to the page and scanning over the ink for yourself, and while Amazon’s new Paperwhite lacks the smell, the texture, and the feel of the page, it will still hold more books and likely provide an experience that is easier to read at night, and that’s because of brightness control.
In this Kindle is a front-light that you can control, and this is different from the typical backlighting technology you might be used to.
While a backlight does what it says — shines light at the back — the light in the Kindle Paperwhite kind of stays on at the front and never changes the viewing experience, feeling more like the paper you’re reading on — the electronic ink screen, that is — is just getting brighter when you decide to turn up the light.
For the Paperwhite model, this change in brightness doesn’t happen automatically, as this model lacks an automatic sensor, sending that over to the high-end model, the recently released Voyage.
Rather, you’ll have to control the brightness yourself, but from what we’re seeing, this feels almost like someone has given your eyes the ability to exert lighting control over every book, changing the brightness at a whim, and making it so you can read in any environment.
As for usability, this has changed a lot over the years, and while the first generation Kindles all had screens and buttons, these have since disappeared, with the Paperwhite looking and feeling more like a touchscreen slate, because that’s kind of what it is. With no buttons found here, you’ll be touching the screen to get it to do what you want.
You can touch the top of the screen to see the menu, providing font sizing, sharing features, bookmarks, the Paperwhite brightness control, and a home button to bring you back to where your books are, while taps inside the books on the left and right of the screen will let you go forward and back, and with a 6 inch body and a weight of 217 grams, this can be done with one hand comfortably. Gestures are even supported here, with a pinch to zoom reducing the font size, while a pull apart gesture — the opposite of pinch to zoom — increasing font size.