Getting the Best Amazon Kindle Ever

Amazon has released the third version of its e-book reader Kindle Paperwhite. A comparison with the previous model and the more expensive Kindle Voyager could help you get the best Kindle Paperwhite ever; at least for what are your personal needs. It goes without saying that I love my Amazon e-reader to bits.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and Voyager

Amazon has released the third version of its Kindle Paperwhite. The new e-reader has a display with a much higher resolution  than its predecessor and is in this respect on a par with the Kindle Voyager, Amazon's third and most expensive e-reader with illuminated e-paper display.

With its first Paperwhite reader Amazon solved the fundamental problem of e-paper displays: Finally users could read in the dark without an external light source. For this purpose, the screen is illuminated; light intensity can be regulated to low so far that the screen doesn't appear too glaring in the dark on one side while the setting to high allows reading in glaring sunlight. Meanwhile, other manufacturers also offer e-reader with back-lit e-paper display. A pleasant side effect: Even in broad daylight a set of medium intensity lighting means that the e-paper display acts just like paper - clearly white but appearing non-illuminated.

The first version of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite still had problems with the lighting which was unable to lighten the display evenly. In the second Kindle, no differences in brightness between the screen's center and its edges can be made out.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Lighting Scale

The illumination of the newest, third, Paperwhite is uniformly even and also a bit stronger than that of its predecessor. In daylight, we don't notice that the screen is illuminated; the screen just looks like any book printed on white paper. This illusion is helped by Amazon increasing the resolution of the new Paperwhite to 300 ppi from 212 ppi of the second version.

This makes the typeface looks much sharper than before. The new Paperwhite and the older Kindle are outwardly similar with exception to the colors of the printed logos. While in first Paperwhite the jagged print was visible to the naked eye jaggies and the letters appeared blurry, the new model shows much crisper print. This becomes all the more evident the smaller the font size is set to. In contrast clarity, however, there appears to be no significant difference.

On the new Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon has introduced the typeface Bookerly which was specially developed for digital screens. The font is similar to Palatino which is also available on previous Kindle readers. It looks similar but at a closer look a little more rounded out. Compared to Futura, the print appears less jagged.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Dictionary

Operations on the two latest Amazon Kindle Paperwhites don't differ: both feature a touchscreen and have no control keys except for the power button at the bottom. Pages are flipped over by touch to the right or left half of the display; at the top of the screen the menu is displayed while reading. In it, the user will find the settings for the font, the ability to jump to specific pages, and the search menu with which he can search the book for names and keywords.

The lighting control system is identical for both Kindles. Automatic lighting control remains only available on Kindle Voyage. The slightly brighter lighting on the latter works on the same principle as with the Paperwhites. On Amazon's site, however, numerous reviews show complaints from users who point to the uneven color illumination on Kindle Voyager: At the top of the screen they seem warmer than in the lower.

The new Paperwhite and Kindle Voyager show text on a six-inch screen with 300 ppi. Accordingly, the writing is sharp on both and isn't jagged in any discernible way. The automatic brightness control, however, needs correcting every now and then: In dim light, the screen is too dark too often.

Upon closer examination, small differences in the typeface of the two high-resolution e-book readers show up: On the one hand, Kindle Voyager shows print in a more pronounced black than the new Paperwhite. On the other hand, text on the Kindle Paperwhite still look a bit clearer than on the Voyager.

The reason lies in the different material used for the display surfaces in the two models. When Kindle Paperwhite, the screen surface is made from matted plastic that suppresses reflections outdoors very well. The screen surface of the Kindle Voyager on the other hand is made of matted glass. Viewed through a magnifying glass, the structure of the plastic surface shows up softer; with the glass surface of the Kindle Voyager however, this effect doesn't exist. For this reason, the font looks a bit sharper and clearer on the latter as do external reflections.

The design of the Kindle Voyager is based on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. But the reader has no raised frame as do the two Paperwhites and it exudes more luxury, too. With 162 times 115 times 7.6 millimeters, it is also smaller than the new Paperwhite with 169 times 117 times 9.1 millimeters.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Vocabulary Builder

The Kindle Voyager also has a touch screen with the same menu navigation as the two Paperwhites. Additionally, you can turn pages with touch keys. These are designed like the touch keys used on the very first Kindle reader: A large and easily accessible key is used on both sides to scroll forward and a smaller key above them to scroll back.

The advantage of this additional user option is all in favor of the reader. The touch keys can comfortably be operated with one hand. Quite often with the touch screens, the other hand must come to the aid. With the Kindle Voyager a pressure of the thumb which already is engaged in holding the device is sufficient. That may be a small thing, in everyday life it is nothing but practical. Sometimes looking back is the way forward.

Amazon gives for all three models the same value for battery life: with 30 minutes of reading a day at brightness level 10 the battery will run for six weeks. Experience shows that battery life of any Kindle reader can be measured in weeks even with frequent use. Very long reading sessions at full brightness will still not deplete the batteries for several days.

The pricing for all three Kindle devices is predictable with the older Paperwhite version the cheapest and the Voyager the most expensive. All three are available with either wireless connection or UMTS. The UMTS versions are about a third more expensive than the wireless ones. The newer Paperwhite offers a cheap deal with a reduced price offer if you are prepared to put up with ads being displayed on a locked screen.

With the UMTS versions of the Kindle reader, users can download books and synchronize their reading progress without WiFi. The pre-loaded browser, however, can only be used over a Wi-Fi network.

Which brings us to the question: Which is the best Kindle you could buy? The answer, I'm afraid, depends on your specific needs and will involve some sort of compromise.

If you are on a budget and don't want to be bothered by ads on your screen, then the older Kindle will be entirely satisfactory; if you don't mind the ads, the newer Paperwhite is only slightly more expensive and you do get the improved script.

If you are an outdoors reader, then the display of the newer Paperwhite is the one to go for. And Amazon has improved its typeface significantly.The letters appear clearer and sharper than on the previous model; and I like the new font Bookerly.

If you are used to one handed reading, then the Voyager is the Kindle of your choice. The touch keys will allow you to turn the pages without getting the other hand involved. The crisp typeface is really good, but you'll get annoyed when getting all those reflections while reading outdoors. The automatic brightness control is irrelevant, as you have to adjust it as often as not. And the problem with the color display might be putting you off after all.

Further reading
Thinking About Getting a Kindle From Amazon
Edouard Louis on Eddy Bellegueule
Iconic Design: Swiss Army Knife