PROS / The Paperwhite has a phenomenal 300 dots per inch display.
CONS / Without any physical navigation buttons, the screen feels cluttered.
VERDICT / The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has an excellent display and sturdy build quality. In addition to Amazon's catalog and services, the Paperwhite has premium features at a midrange price.
Buyers looking for the best eBook reader often turn to Amazon's Kindle line. The Kindle family has a lot to offer any type of user: entry-level users who need basic eReaders can spring for budget Kindles, while potential buyers with larger budgets can target Amazon's higher-end models.
The high-end Kindle Voyage earned the top spot in our review, but the new midrange Kindle Paperwhite has many strengths that make it strikingly similar to the Voyage. Notably, the Paperwhite has the same 300 pixels per inch (ppi) display used in the Voyage. The gap between these two devices can be difficult for potential eBook buyers to navigate. After rigorous tests, the Paperwhite's strong combination of build quality and software speed earned it our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Readability & Display
The Kindle Paperwhite’s features draw extensively from Amazon's other eBook readers, building on the best of the past Kindle models. In our hands-on testing, we found it extremely easy to read on the device and navigate through its menus. The eReader doesn’t have physical buttons, which is a slight nuisance – you have to tap the screen to access a secondary menu bar to view search functions and return to the homepage. Still, basic tasks, for example scrolling through pages, are simple, fast and free of noticeable slowdown.
We didn’t have any problems with book formatting in our testing; chapter titles and text breaks were properly set as soon as an eBook finished downloading. In addition, the straightforward reading interface cleanly lays out text and provides options for functions like text search and highlighting.
The Paperwhite has standard hardware and software features found in comparable eBook readers. You can adjust screen brightness levels and access public library collections and subscriptions from major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. As with past Amazon Kindles, you can pay an extra fee during the checkout process to disable sponsored lockscreens.
This Kindle has a notably stellar display that's virtually identical to the one on the higher-end Kindle Voyage. It has specifications that include a 1448 x 1072 display with a pixel density mark of 300 ppi. The screen performed phenomenally during our hands-on testing, rendering sharp blacks and greys. Onscreen text is similarly smooth with virtually no pixelation on individual letters. For comparison, the best eReaders rely on displays that reach the 300 ppi mark. Budget and entry-level eReaders top out at around 167 ppi, which is still a perfectly usable. When it comes to the actual reading experience, the Paperwhite and Voyage are virtually neck and neck.
Design & Portability
Even with its midrange price tag, in our hands-on testing we found that the Paperwhite has many premium design features. With its dimensions of 6.7 x 4.6 x 0.36 inches and weight of 7.2 ounces, the device is similar to other eBook readers. It is built with a clean matte black case and has a slight bulge near the bottom that, somewhat inconveniently, houses the power button and charging port. With the Paperwhite's build quality, the lack of a dedicated home screen return button is an inconvenience. Still, the eReader's rubberized back, which helps prevent slips and drops, is a useful addition.
As good as the screen on the Paperwhite is, one of the few differences it has with the Kindle Voyage is one of the bigger hurdles to face. The Voyage has a better build quality than the Paperwhite – the Voyage has features like a glass front and physical buttons.
The eReader includes the standard 4GB of internal storage, which provides enough room for most users' libraries. If you are frequently on the go, you can also purchase 3G support during the checkout process. This allows you to connect to cellular data networks and download books without a Wi-Fi connection.
As with past Kindles, the Paperwhite has strong content options. Amazon’s bookstore offerings are thorough and include a variety of popular fiction and non-fiction authors. In addition, you can subscribe to large newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. It also supports book sharing and library rentals, and most libraries having Kindle-specific checkout catalogs.
Help & Support
As with the rest of Amazon's Kindle devices, the Paperwhite comes with a default one-year warranty for hardware and software issues. You can get support for the Paperwhite through usual channels like phone agents, live chat, social media and an online support section on Amazon’s website. Available resources include documentation and frequently asked question sections.
With their established presence in the eBook market, Amazon's Kindle series remains the standard-bearer for eBook readers, and the Kindle Paperwhite upholds this standing. While the Paperwhite isn't without blind spots like a somewhat clunky user interface and a lack of physical navigation buttons, the build quality and value make it a stellar option for users looking for a versatile eBook reader.