Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: Kindle Paperwhite (2nd gen)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

For the last year and change, I’ve split my e-reading between my Google Nexus 4 phone and my Google Nexus 7 tablet and while they’re both excellent devices, reading novels on an LCD screen never really sat well with me. Before I go further, I should tell you that I’m not one of those people who refuse to make the shift from paperbacks and hardcovers to e-ink as I’ve previously been the owner of an e-reading device. I used to own a Kobo WiFi but it unfortunately met its untimely demise in the winter of 2012. Since then, I’ve been hemming and hawing over getting back in the e-ink game but for whatever reason, talked myself out of it.

“Why do you need that?”

“You have a tablet - it’s a waste of money.”

..I’m very good at sometimes talking myself out of things.
However, with last year’s move out of my one bedroom apartment into a two bedroom unit I now share with my lovely girlfriend, the subject of space has sprung up on a few occasions. Faced with yet another move this coming July - this time back into a smaller living space - the thought of packing up and moving all these books again is already making my back hurt.

My original e-reader, the KOBO WiFi

That being said, there’s just some books that I need to own a physical copy of and no electronic substitute would ever do. For those books that I do not need to hold in my hand, I wanted to get a good, solid e-reader that would last a while and while Amazon’s tablets haven’t always the best reviewed devices, their e-readers have been critically acclaimed - especially the new Paperwhite. So here we are.

I’ve had about a week with the device and it certainly does its job adequately. The battery life has not dipped much from its initial charge (I’ve used it for at least an hour a day) and syncing with my existing catalogue on the Amazon cloud was quick and seamless.

The Paperwhite seems to have found a great substitute for the intense brightness of an LCD screen suffered while reading in rooms with reduced lighting. A separate screen, laid over the e-ink screen during manufacturing, gives off an almost glowing effect that pops the text rather than overpowers your eyes with a harsh white background. It’s something that’s been used in e-readers before but with Paperwhite's higher resolution screen, it finally puts the technology to good use. I’ve put in about an hour in total so far when reading in the dark and my eyes were a-ok. Once you've used this technology and then go back to a clipped on light for a standard e-reader, there’s no contest. You’re definitely going to want this.

Another of the deciding factors has to do with NetGalley. I get my fair share of reading material direct from authors as well as publishers who throw their material on NetGalley for the blogging community to snag. With the way in which their system is designed, NetGalley can send the book directly to your kindle, hassle-free. The process is smooth sailing for sure and something I wanted to continue to use.

Image courtesy of Mixtus Media

In 2013, Amazon purchased Goodreads. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. When the deal was struck, readers hoped that Amazon would maintain a hands off approach when it came to the day to day operations of the popular social network. However, when a whole controversy erupted over deleted reviews and censorship issues, people began to call into question Amazon’s true motive - were they trying to expand Goodreads’ reach or simply use it as a marketing tool to solidify their dominance over the book universe?

Regardless if they were behind that controversial decision or not, one of the major reasons behind the acquisition was to integrate Goodreads into their Kindle operating system. After playing around with it for a bit, it doesn't feel like something that’s really needed. The app is slow, clunky and looks sort of ugly. In my opinion, the whole reason you want an e-reading device is to get away from the distractions that a tablet is littered with. I can’t tell you how often I’d be reading a book on my Nexus 7 and I’d get a Facebook notification or an email or a tweet that would pull me out of the story. While the Paperwhite doesn't seem to have any popup notifications, the temptation is still there to surf Goodreads. One positive note about the app however, is the ability to “like” reviews - something that for whatever reason, is not available on the Android app.

What else can I say about the Paperwhite? It’s got a beautiful screen, handy access to the Kindle store with lightning fast downloading and syncing ability, and it’s got a battery life that’s hard to beat. As I said before, I used to own a Kobo WiFi and while it did its job at the time, this little guy is leaps and bounds ahead of it.

Oh, and it should be worth noting that I snagged a case from the fine folks over at DODOcase who offer one of a kind hand stitched sleeves. While they’re a bit pricey, it’s clear they’re built to last and offer great protection for what I can only assume is a fragile screen.

DODOcase Durable Paperwhite Sleeve


  1. I wanted the Paperwhite, but Amazon dragged their feet on releasing it in Canada so I went with the Kobo Glo - same illuminated e-ink design, but wider format support.

  2. The Glo was neck and neck with the Paperwhite for me. In the end, the Paperwhite won because of Netgalley. The access to libraries seems to be the breaking point for a lot of Canadians though.