Review: Kindle Paperwhite

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.
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November 5, 2012

Back in August I got an unexpected bonus at my day job (for being awesome) and it has been my practice to, if at all possible, spend bonus money on fun things. So I spent half of it on an awful lot of custom-dyed wool/silk blend fiber to spin into yarn for a sweater  and then I thought about what to spend the rest of it on.

And then Amazon announced the Paperwhite–and I knew what to spend the second half of my bonus on, as while I was still happy with my Kindle with Keyboard, a lighted e-ink Kindle was what I’d been waiting for. However, I took my sweet time ordering it so I had to wait until the end of October for it to arrive.  Which was fine right up to the point where it became apparent we were going to be getting a hurricane, at which point I turned into that person who is constantly checking the tracking information–and Amazon chose to ship it FedEx SmartPost, which is essentially untrackable. So that was fun. But it did arrive as scheduled and ahead of the storm (this is such a petty first world problem, I know).

Paperwhite vs. Keyboard

A comparison of the two Kindles I own. Look at how much real estate is taken up at the bottom of the Paperwhite’s screen by books in the Amazon Kindle Store! And yes, I read fan fiction! And have utterly ridiculous categories for all my books; paranormal fantasy and paranormal romance are totally two different things, I swear. One of these days I’ll write a post about it.

Unpacking it was very easy and since it came pre-registered to me, getting my books onto it was also pretty easy. Less easy was organizing them, mainly because the text description of the collections have been replaced with images, so you can only get six of them on a screen and if you’re like me and have all your romances divided into sub-genre because you have more romances than anything else, then, well, it took me a while to get everything organized.

But I was able to get it organized and then I was finally ready to actually read something on it.

The light is very nice–it is mostly very even, although there are some shadows at the very bottom of the screen where the LEDs are. This really isn’t that noticeable while reading, despite what some of the reviewers on Amazon would have you think. The touch screen is responsive and navigation is pretty easy to learn. It’s only about half an inch wider than a mass market paperback and is the same height as one and not particularly heavy, not even with a cover on it (I sprung for the leather cover, which is very nice). The screen refresh is very good and it’s nice to be able to choose between different fonts; although I did have a book where I was unable to change the font from Helvetica and that made me cranky because I prefer serif fonts for reading.

There are things I don’t like about it, though: I dislike that half the real estate on the first screen is devoted to what amounts to advertisements even though I paid extra to get the ad-free version. I’d also like a way re-arrange my collections to my liking–I’d like my TBR collection to be the first thing I see, but I have been unable to get it onto the front page, not even by adding punctuation or numbers at the beginning on the name (I suppose I’ll have to rename it A To Be Read or something). I’d also like to make the images of the collections smaller so I can fit more of them on a page and I’d like the option to be able to toggle between book covers or titles within the collection–I’m stuck looking at the book covers and they can be hard to read and at only six per page that means they seem to take up a lot of virtual space.

It’s also more complicated to turn off the wireless antenna on the Paperwhite–on my old Kindle, the option to do so is in the menu at all times. On the Paperwhite, you have to be on the home screen and then you have to tap twice to get to the settings and then put it into airplane mode. It’s a lot more navigation.

Overall, though, I am very pleased with the device and I’m glad I was able to buy it–I read several books on it this past weekend and the device more or less got out of my way and let me read. Which is what one wants to happen with an e-reader.  Now if only all publishers would ditch the DRM…

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