Kindle Paperwhite E-reader 2015 Review: A great product that’s now even better!

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader
Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

If you’re reading reviews of the new 3rd generation Paperwhite, you’re likely considering buying one. If so, you’re probably in one of these categories:
* Never owned a Kindle e-ink reader
* Own an older Kindle e-ink reader, but not a Paperwhite
* Own a first or second generation Paperwhite

I’ll save my opinion on whether the new Paperwhite 3 is worth buying until the end of my review. (But I will say this: They’ve taken a great product and made it even better.) First, here’s a comparison of the new Paperwhite with the second generation Paperwhite (comparisons are for the wi-fi models):

Second Generation Paperwhite (2013)
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Size: 6.7″x4.6″x0.36″
Weight (wi-fi version): 7.3 ounces
Display: 6″ diagonal, 212 pixels per inch, 16-level grayscale, LED frontlit
Storage memory: 4GB
Page turns: Touchscreen
Number of fonts: 6
Display lighting: Manually adjustable front-lighting

All-New Paperwhite (2015)
——————————
Size: 6.7″x4.6″x0.36″
Weight (wi-fi version): 7.2 ounces
Display: 6″ diagonal, 300 pixels per inch, 16-level grayscale, LED frontlit
Storage memory: 4GB
Page turns: Touchscreen
Number of fonts: 7
Display lighting: Manually adjustable front-lighting

Note that the physical size is identical to the older Paperwhite, so covers and sleeves that worked with the older Paperwhites are still usable (thank you, Amazon). The most obvious difference is the screen resolution: 300 pixels per inch is a major jump from the 212 pixels per inch in the older Paperwhites. With text, you may or may not notice the characters are slightly crisper, but the higher resolution is a most welcomed improvement for books that have illustrations, maps, or photographs – they’ll be noticeably most detailed.

Another addition is the newly designed Bookerly font. It appears to me to be a slightly softer, more rounded font. I like it, but I’ll have to use it for a while to see if I prefer it over the Caecilia font that I usually use.

Unlike backlit tablets and phones, which wash out badly in sunlight, the Paperwhite is very readable in any lighting condition from total darkness to bright sunshine, simply by adjusting the built-in lighting level. The touch screen’s responsiveness has been noticeably improved over the original Paperwhite, but I couldn’t tell any obvious difference compared to the second generation Paperwhite.

About the battery life: Amazon says “A single charge lasts up to six weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10.” People’s reading habits vary too much to generalize about battery life. Also, the lighting level will vary – for example, my preferred lighting level for the conditions where I read most of the time is 15. Unlike the Kindle Fires that show the percentage of remaining battery charge, the Paperwhites only have a crude graphic indicator. I’ve gotten into the habit of charging my Kindle about once a week, so I don’t worry about it. I also leave the wi-fi connection turned on so that the Kindle can receive any software updates when they come in.

My thoughts about the “Special Offers”: To me, it’s not worth the $20 to opt out of the special offers. They’re not really intrusive, and they don’t pop up while you’re reading, and sometimes you’ll even see an offer that you like. After a while, you hardly notice the ads. My advice is to take the special offers and save $20. Later, if you find you don’t like seeing them, you can ante up the $20 and opt out.

My thoughts about wi-fi only versus wi-fi + 3G: The wi-fi + 3G model is $70 more than the wi-fi only model. Nowadays with wi-fi being so available just about everywhere you go, most people won’t need 3G. However, if you do decide to get the wi-fi + 3G Paperwhite, note that that there’s no additional cost to download books over 3G (the book publishers pay that cost).

One more comment: None of the Paperwhites have audio features, including text-to-speech, speaker, or headphone jack. Audio has not been included in any of the e-ink Kindles for several years, and I doubt if it will ever return. If you want to play audio books or music, Amazon wants you to buy a Kindle Fire.

Note: The Paperwhite 3 comes with a USB charging cable but no charger. Any AC charger or vehicle charger that outputs 5 volts at about 1 amp should work just fine. This includes any Kindle chargers you already have, as well as most cellphone chargers.

—————————————–

Okay, what’s the bottom line? The new Paperwhite is a superb ebook reader, a continuing evolution of the super-popular Paperwhite series. I have the impression that Amazon has taken the Paperwhite 2 and tweaked it from top to bottom to make the new Paperwhite 3 as good as it can be. But is it worth the money to upgrade? Here’s my opinion:

* If you’ve never owned an e-ink reader but are considering buying one, the Paperwhite 3 is a marvelous ebook reader that makes the original Kindle (released in 2007) look like an antique by comparison (and that Kindle cost $399). It’s time to go digital, and at the current selling price, the new Paperwhite can’t be beat.
* If you own an older Kindle e-ink reader, but not a Paperwhite, by all means upgrade. It’s not that expensive, and it provides a hugely improved reading experience compared to earlier Kindles.
* If you own a first or second generation Paperwhite, in most ways, the new Paperwhite is not a huge step up, and you’re fine with your current Paperwhite. However, if you read a lot of books with illustrations, maps, or photographs, the higher screen resolution will make those images more viewable, and that could make the cost of the upgrade worth it. And if you’re like my wife and me, whenever we upgraded, there were always family members or friends who were happy to take the old Kindles off our hands.
* There is one more possibility – the Paperwhite is a touchscreen device, using touches and swipes to operate, including a pop-up onscreen keypad for typing. If you’re one of those folks who really misses the raised buttons that the earlier Kindles had, you’re pretty much out of luck unless you want to buy a Kindle Voyage, which has embedded sensors that work kind of like buttons, but it’s considerably more expensive than the Paperwhite.

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Without a doubt, a Kindle Paperwhite Case is a good investment. There are many different Tablet Cases available in the TAGreat.com, so be sure to test out a few before purchasing one.

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