The newest Kindle Paperwhite looks more or less like its three-year-old predecessor. But drop old faithful into the tub and you’d be buying another one. In contrast, the fourth generation model now available has a waterproof body that can soak in up to two metres of fresh water for an hour – simply dry it off and you’re good to go.
At 16.7 by 11.6 cm, and 8.18 mm thick, it’s just a tad smaller than before, and about 20 grams lighter. Compared to a typical tablet, Kindle is compact.
Its touchscreen resolution remains at a respectable 300 pixels per inch.
Standard memory has doubled from four GB to eight GB. That means you can download double the books on the tablet (and still store your Amazon books free in the cloud). If eight GB isn’t enough, there’s also a new 32-GB model.
And the latest Kindle supports Audible, allowing you to listen to audiobooks, unlike the previous model, although it appears that only files from Audible U.S. accounts currently work with this model. There’s no on-board headphone jack but the new Paperwhite is equipped with Bluetooth, so you can connect a wireless headset, earbuds or a speaker. Models are available with either Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus cellular connectivity.
It’s equipped with a five-LED manually-adjustable backlight, so you can read at night without additional light. The e-ink technology is easy on the eyes and the effect of the almost glare-free matte screen is less likely to keep you awake after you turn off the lights. You can also adjust the font type and size.
The case also has a different feel. The frame and the display are now flush, which keeps moisture, dust and crumbs out. If you prefer to touch the far edges of the screen to turn pages, it’s tricky to tell where the frame ends and the screen begins.
However, it doesn’t have an adaptive light sensor. Nor does it have physical page-turning buttons, as found in the higher-end Kindle Oasis (the Oasis has a seven-inch screen and is more than twice the price). And Kindle still doesn’t support the e-Pub format commonly found on other platforms and places like public libraries.
Amazon has also missed opportunity to provide a processor speed boost for this new generation. It would give it a little more zip in loading books, turning pages and refreshing the screen.
Regardless, its features and the low entry price make the new Kindle Paperwhite an ideal gift.
If you own an older version of the Paperwhite, you’d be hard-pressed to justify an upgrade unless you’re afraid of getting it wet or like to listen to audiobooks.
All Kindle models have great reading features such as Whispersync, Goodreads and X-Ray. And they all have access to millions of low-cost Kindle e-Books, plus some for free.
Kindle Paperwhite prices start at $139.99 for the eight-GB Wi-Fi model at retailers, including Amazon. A number of colourful leather and water-safe fabric cases are available starting at $39.99.
Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.