Amazon's New Ebook Reader: Kindle Paperwhite [Updated]

Here's Amazon's new, stunning e-ink Kindle. The Paperwhite is a frontlit reader with a new XGA display that bumps its pixel density up from 169 to 212 — a noticeable increase you'll be able to see even in quick glances. Updated with hands-on impressions.

The Kindle Paperwhite has a capitative touchscreen instead of the infrared technology that every ereader had used until now, which will make navigation much more accurate. It's also allowed the Kindle Paperwhite to shed a bit of weight since it no longer needs the dip between the bezel and the display. That height difference provided the space needed to shoot across infrared beams and pick up your finger. Since that's no longer an issue, it means we get thinner Kindles.

The Kindle Paperwhite introduces a feature called "Time to Read", which displays roughly how long it will take you to finish a chapter or the whole book in the bottom left corner of your page. The calculation is based on your reading habits, like how fast you read a page, and how often you flip back and forth through pages. That's really cool — until someone sees that it's going to take you 38 more days to finish the third Harry Potter.

The light on the Kindle Paperwhite appears to be incredibly even for a frontlit device. In fact, it almost looks like it's backlit. It achieves this effect by shining four LED lights from the bottom of the device what is essentially a layer of flattened fibre optic glass that is nano-imprinted with a special pattern. In a nutshell, it captures less light closer to the LEDs, where the light is brighter, and more light farther away.

Battery life, which is basically a constant in readers, is rated at eight weeks with the light on a medium setting. Amazon's calculations are based on a half hour per day of reading, but that's still pretty good and impressive considering the light.

The Kindle Paperwhite also looks like it has a soft rubberised back, like the Kindle Fire. And it's back in black, which is good news after last year's brief dalliance with silver painted to look like metal.

The new ereader also has a new home screen, which looks a lot like the one on the Kindle Fire and the Nook Simple Touch. It's a small addition that spruces up the tired-looking text-based menu.

This is a huge jump forward for the Kindle brand. Last year's models were fine, but it was clear that the gap had shrunk between Amazon and everyone else. It looks like that lead is being extended again.

The 3G version will cost $US179 and goes on sale October 1. There doesn't seem to be an ad-supported version. The old $US79 version is back with a few minor upgrades and a lower price of $US69, which will start shipping from September 14. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Amazon is ready to bring the Kindle Paperwhite to Australia just yet. We'll let you know if that changes.

Update: hands-on impressions below.

The Kindle Paperwhite's screen is so awesome you wouldn't believe it's e-ink. Hell, I just saw it and I still don't believe it. It combines the paper-like text of e-ink screens with the usability of LCD screens but none of the eye strain. No other ereader even comes close to this right now.

It's not just the screen either; the black buttonless bezel of the Kindle Paperwhite makes a mockery of the old Kindle's painted plastic. The new Kindle Paperwhite is ever so slightly smaller than the old Kindle, but it's hardly noticeable when you hold it in your hand. The weight seems to be about the same too.

But the screen. Oh, the screen. It's crisp, clear and delightfully bright without feeling like you're burning your eyes with liquid crystal daggers. The light is dispersed evenly throughout, making it feel more like an LCD/e-ink love child than an e-ink screen trying to fake the funk. The frontlit display in the Nook Simple Touch with looks like a splotchy birthmark in comparison.

The feel of the new Kindle is solid. There are no weak points, no creaky plastic — it's as nice as the older model but slightly better to touch. Using it is significantly more pleasant because the screen's refresh rate is so much faster and the touchscreen has been upgraded to capacitive. There's still a slight lag, but that's because the e-ink screen still needs a little more time to refresh (compared to LCD). Oddly, there doesn't seem to be a headphone jack on the new Kindle.

Amazon has also built a cover for the Kindle Paperwhite that resembles te iPad's Smart Cover. It uses a magnet to automatically wake it from sleep when the case is opened. For what it's worth, it looks a lot nicer than the one that came with the Kindle Touch last year.


Comments

    Gizmodo Australia, could you please get details of when this can be shipped here?

    I went to order and it says it's USA only and there are no details of when it'll ship internationally that I can see.

    Want, want...
    I actually like my Kindle Touch, but this thing looks amazing. No doubt they won't let it ship to Australia via Amazon though which means the usual Australia Tax gouge will double the price..! :(

      Kindles have been available to order from Amazon to AU for years... ?

        At a higher price.

          No, at the same price they are for everyone else. I paid exactly the same as Americans pay for mine - US$139 or whatever it was in 2010.

          Same but with the currency conversion and added shipping. Aussies complaining about price hikes real or imagined are my favourite prosecuted internet minority.

            * per. Auto correct

    I want this too! Have been hassling the missus for one with my birthday coming up, so it NEEDS to ship to Aus. :)

    Hmmm looks like my missus will be getting an early birthday present, my old kindle so I can get this one. :D

    I misread the name as paperweight the first time!

      Thats what I keep on doing too.

    Current Amazon price for US version is $119.00 for Wifi only version. Not sure where OP got his prices..?

      The price would be based on the non special offers version of the Kindle which are the only ones available to Aus (when they make them available anyway).

    This looks like a much better bet than last year's model, which didn't tempt me at all. The only feature missing are hard buttons for page turning. I don't want to be putting my grubby fingers all over the screen. I would also want the choice of whether to use the front-light or not because using my reading light is still preferable to a glowing screen.

      You can turn the light on and off.

    There are now 6 different priced kindles. The 3G Paperwhite, Paperwhite WiFi, oldie Touch and heir ad-supported variants. You're quoting the ad-supported paperwhite wifi version.

    Would love this in a larger device! I picked up a DX a while ago and I love it, but I use it for manga/comics as well so the regular sized models just plain aren't big enough.

    This might get me to give the Kindle 3 to a friend. I've always been jockeying for that new higher res screen with a smoother front light than the Nook. I love how sleek they're getting but I still really really really like page turning buttons. No moving your hand, just slightly flex your thumb. Too bad everyone's moving to more simpler button less designs.

    Now if those cheapskates at Amazon allowed ebook loaning between accounts in Australia, I wouldn't have to let my friend co-opt my whole account just to read my stuff.

    Am I correct in assuming that you can only put files on it you get from Amazon and not via USB or anything?

      Nope. You can put your own eBooks on the Kindle. Calibre is your friend.

      No, you can add files via USB.
      There is free software that can convert most files to a kindle-friendly file type too.
      Try Calibre. http://calibre-ebook.com/

        Ah cool, I even have that for my current Sony pos, was not sure Kindle's supported that.
        Thanks guys.

      I thought I was sold until I read this.

    I'm a long time Kindle user, and while the improved display specs are great, they've dropped the memory from 4GB on the Touch to 2GB on the Paperwhite (of which only 1.25GB is available for user content).

    I'll be looking closely at the new Kobo Glo (also XGA resolution, but with microSD slot for up to 32GB of expansion) when it comes time to upgrade.

      but do you want 4gb of books on your kindle. probably not. it is academic really 2gb or 4gb. it makes no difference in usability, so why not have 2gb or even 1gb and get the device a tiny bit cheaper.

    I really want this to come to Australia.

    It seems you can't order it right now due to it being in "presage" only. Like said above, you can order the other Kindles via Amazon Intl. Basically, when you try and order and get rejected, it gives you the link to Amazon Intl instead, allowing you to ship it to Australia at the same US cost.

    I believe we have to wait for it to become available first. The Fire range won't allow Aus shipping, as they're fixed for US content delivery, is my understanding. Though you could still get them from the above link, using a US forwarding company.

      I'm pre-ordering $119 paperwhite using US address generated by borderlinx and the price ended up cheaper than pre-order prices from Australian online retailers and eBay sellers.

        Hi Inex, can you answer a few questions for me?

        What was the actual shipping costs using borderlinx? and was the estimated price for you?

        If you have them what was the dimensions of the package and weight?

        Will the $119 kindle paperwhite WIFI with special offer work in Australia? I saw article on another website recommended a $139 version.
        Source: http://www.readeraustralia.com/pre-order-kindle-paperwhite-in-australia/

    Hi - brand new to the world of Kindle. Buying my Mum one for Christmas, 50/50 chance she will use it, so just getting her a Kindle 5. I have been searching but cant tell if there is a big range of books available in Aus, or if its limited? What is the average price for books, and how soon after released do they appear in the store? Sorry if these questions are way, way behind other questions here!

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