When it comes to eBook readers, Amazon's Kindle line has become synonymous with the product category. The Kindle family owns significant market share in the eReader space, and even its mid-range Paperwhite is better than most flagship eBook readers. Although it does not offer the free 3G connectivity of the Paperwhite 3G, this model still has a bright front-lit touchscreen that sets the Kindle apart.
The Wi-Fi-only Paperwhite provides value, convenience and a gratifying reading experience that outshines all other competing devices. Where the 3G model is a great option for constant readers who will want to download new eBooks anywhere, the Kindle Paperwhite is better for book lovers who aren't buying new books on a whim. The Paperwhite has nearly all of the features that we loved from the Paperwhite 3G, earning it our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
The name Paperwhite stems from the eReader's unique e-ink screen. The 212 pixels per inch look amazing on a white screen as opposed to the grayscale typical of most eBook readers. The result is sharper text that is easier to read and more closely replicates paper books.
The display also yields high readability in any environment. Most notably, you can comfortably read the Paperwhite in bright sunlight without any glare, which is one of the biggest advantages to using a dedicated eBook reader over a tablet or smartphone. Much to our delight (and that of serious readers everywhere), the Paperwhite performs equally well in dim and dark conditions. The screen is front lit, which means LED lights along the edge of the display shine down onto the digital page, not from the back of the screen into your eyes as many other eBook readers and tablets do. This makes for more even lighting and reduces eyestrain.
Unlike the traditional Kindle eReader, the Paperwhite does not have any tactile buttons. Instead, all controls are mapped to parts of the touchscreen, which you can adjust to your liking. By default, the top part of the screen hides the menu controls, and tapping that area will show all available choices. The buttons are large, and when you access the keyboard, it's easy to type notes and search terms.
The Kindle Paperwhite brings with it the best eBook store and overall ecosystem in the industry. Amazon is the largest and undoubtedly most well-known distributor of eBooks, and downloading new content onto the device is effortless. With a tap of the screen, you can browse over 2 million titles and even subscribe to your favorite magazines and newspapers.
The Paperwhite can hold approximately 1,100 eBooks, so you'll never have to leave home without your favorite titles. While it does not have a memory card slot that would enable you to expand its book capacity, we imagine most readers won't run out of space anytime soon.
Perhaps the only real drawback we can find with this device is its lack of support for audiobooks. With no headphone jack, listening to audiobooks simply isn't an option. The inclusion of this feature would make this stellar book reader even better, but it shouldn't be a deal breaker for most prospective buyers.
This isn't the lightest eReader we reviewed, but it still scores high marks for portability. The device weighs just over 7 ounces and is thinner than a pencil. The rubber casing is comfortable and easy to hold, and the wide variety of covers will help protect the device.
The Paperwhite's impressive battery life further augments its overall portability. You won't be tethered to an outlet with this device, which boasts nearly a two-month battery life. It connects to the internet via Wi-Fi, and when online, the Whispersync feature will download purchases and upload bookmarks across all Kindle devices.
Beyond the array of benefits the Kindle Paperwhite offers booklovers, the device is chock full of features. Some seem a bit gimmicky, but there's no denying that collectively they can make for a fun, enjoyable and even educational reading experience.
The most useful feature the Paperwhite offers is automatic syncing across all of your devices. When you start reading a book on your Kindle, the Whispersync automatically synchronizes your last page location across all of your devices that have the Kindle app. This way, you can continue reading even if you don't have your eReader with you.
For serious readers, the Paperwhite also allows you to add margin notes, create bookmarks and highlight text. There's even a built-in dictionary you can use to look up words without losing your place.
The Kindle Paperwhite has set the bar high for the competition. While the latest version of the device isn't a complete overhaul of its predecessor, it still manages to outperform other – even more expensive – eReaders. Unrivaled in terms of readability, convenience and content access, the Paperwhite is a top eBook reader for serious book lovers.
The Kindle Paperwhite has a front-lit touchscreen.
This eReader lacks speakers or a headphone jack to listen to audiobooks.
The Kindle Paperwhite is a step down from the 3G model, but it is still a top eBook reader with all the features you need.