It has been over three years since Amazon continued its product line when it released its highest resolution to its most popular Kindle, Kindle Paper White. The Paperwhite has long been the "Standard Kindle", which is cheap, yet good enough to satisfy most e-readers. And now Amazon is back with another update to Paperwhite that brings features like waterproof and audible audio books from a high end sibling (in this case, last year's Oasis), along with a slightly tweaked design and a price increase of $ 10.
The new Paper White is still a Paper White, with all the pros and cons that comes with. Apart from now you can also take it into the bathtub.
Week Long Battery
No Physical Buttons
USB C is a No Show
Just 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi
On the outside, the updated Paperwhite looks much like the 2015 model, and if you've used a Paperwhite anytime over the past few years, you know what to expect.
The biggest hardware change is that the screen is now rinsing in the glass, rather than in a recessed alcove, which brings it in line with the higher end Kindle Oasis. Amazon also says that the lighting has been improved, with an additional light for a total of five (for reference has high-end Oasis 12 LEDs, as well as an adaptive light sensor for auto brightness adjustment). Standard storage is doubled to 8GB, but now it's a 32GB option, and the hardware itself is just a bit thinner, lighter and smaller than the old model.
But the same is the old Paperwhite: the screen is still a stunning 300ppi, six-inch E-ink panel; the back is a soft, grippy plastic; and battery life, practically infinite.
But the two headlines that really make this an upgrade in 2015 Paperwhite comes right from last year's other genes Kindle Oasis: Water Resistance and Support for Audible Audiobooks. The key difference? At $ 129 for PaperWite at the base level, it costs almost half of what pricier Oasis does, and what's already Amazon's best selling ignore close functionality with its most premium model.
Amazon says that the new Paper White is IPX8 rated against "accidental immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes." To see as it is November in New York City and bring Kindle to a beach or pool was unfortunately not an option, I had to do some more worldly tests like to dip it under a faucet and in a nearby fountain. (As expected, retained paper white.)
Water resistance is where one of Paperwhite's errors is going to play. Unlike Oasis, with its physical side buttons, the only way to talk to Kindle with its touchscreen – the same touch screen that goes completely haywire from an overload of constant inputs when it comes into contact with water. Now Amazon has prepared for this with a software feature that completely disables the touchscreen, but you can save for sideways movements, but physical buttons – either the pressure sensitive pads of the old Voyage or the actual buttons on the Oasis – seem to be a much better solution.
The audio book support is also identical to Oasis – you can listen to your Audible library via a paired pair of Bluetooth headsets. And if you own both ebook and audio book versions of a title, you can seamlessly switch back and forth between versions at the touch of a button – Amazon will even sync the site. It is the kind of thing that Amazons pure dominance in the digital book industry becomes clear: when I set up Paperwhite, it was already filling in audiobooks I did not even remember I owned.
The new Paperwhite is also bothered by a few issues that have dogged the Kindle series for many years. Amazon still offers only support for 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, which is becoming increasingly frustrating given the new support for audio books that can only be downloaded over Wi-Fi. And while it's not a surprise given the rest of Amazon's selection, the new Paperwhite takes out of Micro USB instead of USB-C – especially disappointing, given that it will be three years before Amazon updates Paperwhite again. Fortunately, charging is still only once a week.
As for actually using the new Paperwhite, well, it's a Kindle. The software has always been so tweaked – there are some new options for preset text settings that you can customize and save, which is great. However, reading on Paperwhite is just as good for an experience as reading the latest Paper White, or really any other Kindle. It's still a magic concept to carry the entire library with me in the back, but it's all you can do with it for better or worse. It's a tailor-made device that's built for a single purpose: reading, and Amazon looks content to keep it that way.
At the end of the day, the biggest question with Paperwhite is not whether it's Kindle you should buy because with the price point, display quality and feature list it has, it's impossible to recommend it if you want to buy a Kindle today. Between the screen, water resistance, built-in light and improved design, the $ 79 base model hits a significant margin. And unless you're really enamored with Oasis's unique design and a little bigger screen, it's simply not enough to justify the price difference of $ 120.
If you already own a Paperwhite 2015, or the page interrupted Voyage, things are a bit more difficult. The new Paperwhite is still a lot of a better Paperwhite, though, and not a replacement for a much-loved Voyage. Compared to the new model, Voyage is slimmer, has the capacitive side-button buttons and has an auto-adjustable backlight – if you're someone who felt that the Voyage features were worth an additional $ 80, the extra sound and water resistance could not be enough for to swing a new purchase.
And if you are already someone who owns the current Paperwhite, the question of whether waterproof, audio book support and the other other minor improvements are worth the upgrade will be, and there will be a lot of trust in how to use your Kindle But the odds will come next summer You see much more Paperwhites by the pool.
The new Paper White, like the other Kindles before it, is the latest refinement of a formula that Amazon has been iterating for more than half a decade now. And although recent improvements have been slow (Amazon's closest competitor, Kobo, has been waterproof for many years), there's a gradual addition of real major changes that make existing hardware better to use.
Forget to be a jacket of all trades, Kindle is pleased to master one. And while there are still bad problems here and there, the new Paperwhite is probably the closest Amazon has come to reach that goal.
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