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Is Kindle Paperwhite really worth it? (dtsironis.net)
38 points by tsironakos on Nov 17, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

I have owned every Kindle e-reader and currently use a Paperwhite (2012 model) which I find to have the best screen (which is really the most important part of an e-reader) however I much prefer the physical buttons on the regular Kindle. I find the touch screen annoying. The only time the touch screen was a nice to have was the initial setup when I connected it to my wifi.

I still jump back and forth between the Paperwhite and my older model with the physical page turn buttons. What I would really like is a non-touch screen Paperwhite. I would also like to be able to totally disable the backlight rather than just put it to the lowest setting (which is still actually on and more than good enough to read in a pitch black room).

> What I would really like is a non-touch screen Paperwhite

I would honestly pay almost double the price for a Paperwhite that had physical buttons.

I love the Paperwhite - I stare at backlit screens all day enough as it is, so the frontlight is a welcome change - but I can't stand the touch screen. I really wish they'd bring the physical buttons back.

The issue I have is with the use of the touch screen for page turning. I prefer the touch screen to the awkward keys of the Kindle Keyboard's keyboard for everything else, but I really miss the physical page turn buttons. I would prefer awkward keys + physical page turn buttons to only touch.

Pocketbook Touch Lux and Bookeen Cybook Odyssey Frontlight are comparable to Kindle Paperwhite 1 and do have physical buttons for turning pages. Unfortunately, price is the same as that of a kindle paperwhite, not double the price.

This is why I bought another Kindle Keyboard when I lost my previous one. I can't stand touching the screen to turn the page. Page turn buttons are really a must have feature.

I own the previous model (with the physical buttons) and I'm considering upgrading to a Kindle Paperwhite (because of the occasionnal glow on the screen when I read in bed).

The main issue for me is the weight of the device: 206g for the paperwhite and 170 for my older kindle (according to the amazon website).

Is this difference really noticeable? Is it still possible to read with one hand?

I can't recall ever noticing a big difference in weight between the two. I can easily go 2-3 hours reading the Paperwhite with one hand although the lack of physical buttons is annoying as it means you need to stretch your thumb over the bezel to touch the screen. Unless you need the lit screen I would stick with your current Kindle.

Ok thanks for the advice. I guess I'll wait for the next gen to upgrade

36 g (the difference in weight between the paperwhite and the older Kindle) is about two DVDs without cases.

Yeah, I don't understand why no backlight is not available. The screen can obviously do it, because it goes into that mode when it is "off".

Nice to see an example of a title ending in a question where the answer is a non-cynical "absolutely." :)

And my answer is exactly the same. It actually quite surprised me how much I've more I've appreciated and used the Paperwhite after upgrading recently from a Kindle Keyboard. You simply never have to worry about the lighting, whether too bright or too dim.

A rare counter example to Betteridge's Law. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines

Man, I learned about Betteridge's Law a week ago, and ever since I've been having some serious Baader-Meinhof. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baader-Meinhof_phenomenon

Paperwhite is the first Kindle I ever owned, and I like it.

I do not like Amazon's DRM encumbered walled garden though, especially the fact that it doesn't acknowledge anything not bought through Amazon as "books". In general the software and online service, with the exception of Whispernet, is shit.

My next eReader will definitely be something neutral, like a Kobo, and I'll just un-DRM stuff from Amazon via Calibre.

>>it doesn't acknowledge anything not bought through Amazon as "books"

I have a Kindle and this is patently not true. I have multiple DRM-free .mobi "books" that I have sideloaded. You don't even need a cable; just add the book as an attachment and email it direct to your kindle (username@free.kindle.com) and it gets synced over WiFi.

And Kindle doesn't acknowledge them as "books" but as "docs". Subsequently they are also ignored by the Kindle app.

At least the Apple iTunes ecosystem acknowledges my mp3's as music and generally as first class citizens for everything but iCloud.

What Amazon does is childish and annoying.

Calibre can't properly integrate with Amazon's proprietary ecosystem, so you're stuck with 2 separate ways of managing your books, and a are pretty much encouraged to rip out the DRM. (Okay, so I would have done the latter anyway without the encouragement.)

And then you still have a reader that says "na na na na na, those aren't really books!"


Nice reader though.

this only works for a few formats and small files.

wife bought a kindleDX to replace the mountain of books and huge withe papwr pdfs she have to read.

kindle will refuse pretty much all files for one reason or another. and none of the books are available in the amazon walled garden.

unfortunatelly we missed the return date. worst misleading purchase ever.

kindles are only good for people reading novels.

I have a kindle DX and this is false. PDFs are relatively easy to read in the landscape orientation and dont require any conversion whatsoever. If you can convert any ebook format to mobi you are good to go. Try calibre for starters.

Student here. I used my Kindle DX for everything from textbooks to sheet music. My Kindle never rejected anything. I often converted epub books to mobi and simply emailed them to myself.

Calibre allows you to trivially create a local wifi-accessible server to side-load your ebooks and pdfs from other sources.

I'm reading papers and random PDFs from the internet without problems on my non-paperwhite kindle.

I've owned every Kindle (except the DX) and while the Paperwhite is my favorite, I really wish they would remove the touch screen page turning and add the physical buttons on the side. The touch screen works great for searching Amazon or even making short notes, but I find that I accidentally turn the pages way too much.

I would be fine with them keeping the touch screen (so they don't need a physical keyboard, navigation buttons, etc), but I can't for the life of me figure out why they removed the page turning buttons. This feels like a basic UI thing - 95% of what you are going to do is turning pages, so that should be much easier and reliable than anything else.

I was pretty shocked they removed the page turn buttons. They are the most used buttons by an order of magnitude and tapping the screen is a crappy interface as it is too sensitive and I often jump forward or backward a page when I reposition myself in a plane seat or similar.

this, a hundred times. It's not bad to have touch screen for selecting the random word or using the store, but why make 99% of the actions I do on the freaking thing uncomfortable?

(also an owner of both older and new kindles)

You can also get a Nook Glowlight in the UK for £49, less than half the price of the Paperwhite.

Spec isn't as good but it does support standard epub books.


i've seen both (the new paperwhite and the 2012 glow) side to side and for me kindle's backlight crushes the nook's. your mileage may vary.

...also half price sounds like a really nice deal!

> I use it more than my smartphone in an everyday basis.

Once i found out that there's an Android Kindle app * my Kindle use has gotten much less over my cellphone use. I'll still use the Kindle when i don't want to have my phone around, but where my phone is, i have all my Kindle stuff, so i don't need the physical device.

* https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.kin...

I love my Paperwhite. My only complaint is that converting PDFs of programming books (or any books with text formatting or tables) results in some pretty unreadable code snippets.

Are there any e-readers that connect to an app store of some sort? Squashing an A4 PDF onto a small e-reader screen is a difficult process, and it seems like it would strongly benefit from competition between different rendering software.

Its really more of a limitation of PDF. It is intended as a static format based on layouts the size of a full sheet of paper. Its internal representation does not lend its self to layout changes. Most attempt to fit it to a smaller screen are problematic in one way or another.

It would be better to start with a document format that was always intended to be flexible, not fossilized.

You make a fair point, but on the other hand many pdfs have massive margins, or multiple columns, or can have text reflowed in a reasonable way. You can't use pdf readers for all circumstances, but with good software you could handle 80-90% of cases.

I have a Kindle Paperwhite, and while it's great and I use it all the time, I feel like there are a couple issues with it that I never see mentioned:

(1) The front light is a really weird ghostly blue. Wit the light, the kindle looks blue; without it, gray. There's nothing "white" about it in my opinion.

(2) Because of the presence of the touch screen (and maybe the light?), the text is pretty recessed under the screen, and you can quite easily see glare that highlights the depth the text is recessed. When I use my kid sisters base-level kindle, I'm always struck by how much more "book like" it is, because the text sits closer to the surface.

The touch is a wash-up -- it makes navigating and looking up text much easier, but it can be annoying for turning pages. Also the overall responsiveness of the system is light-years behind something like an iPad (which is to be expected with an e-ink display, but I also feel like I'm waiting a lot for the Kindle itself).

If it weren't for the super-duper convenience of being able to read in the dark, I would prefer the baseline kindle. (If you're thinking about a kindle vs no ereader at all, the answer is GET AN EREADER -- overall they are amazing devices.)


A couple other small gripes that may be deal-breakers for you, depending on how OCD you are:

(1) Sometimes the screen doesn't turn off for a long time, even after you've 'locked' the kindle, emitting an annoying glow.

(2) You can never turn the light completely off, which can be annoying when the faint glow is distracting while reading in a low-light (but not low enough to want kindle-light) environment.

I don't have either, but have been thinking of getting one. When I compare the original Kindle to the Paperwhite in the store, the Paperwhite contrast seems almost too high; I think I would find it hard to look at that brilliant white background for very long. The original is easier on the eyes.

Is the Paperwhite contrast adjustable?

The backlight is what makes the background so brilliant; the backlight is adjustable. It ranges from "tiny sun" to "faint phosphor glow"

Yes it is. I just bought one a week ago and it is really comfortable. Too bad it doesn't have auto adjust, but configuration is just two clicks away.

OP here. It actually is pretty dimable at the point that you can read comfortably at a totally dark room.

I've used a Paperwhite, but for most of my reading I'm switching to an iPad Retina mini. The battery life is suitable, the screen is gorgeous (326 PPI vs 212: more than double the number of pixels per glyph) and I hope it will be easier to take notes (possibly even with voice dictation) and fire off emails and TODOs inspired by what I am reading. Most of all, though, I want fast PDF and Pocket/Instapaper in full color.

EDIT: I have not yet tried the Retina mini as a Paperwhite replacement except for an hour in the Apple Store. It's on the way. The in-store experience satisfied me sufficiently, but there is a chance I will come across a deal breaker.

I've not tried the Retina Ipad mini yet, but from reading on tablets in general they all feel like I am reading on a tablet. With my paperweight it actually feels like I am reading a book. Now that said technical oriented stuff I will take a tablet over a kindle everyday of the week.

Thats 100% subjective, and not having used the new Mini perhaps it really is that good.

Ive used the kindle dx and the regular last generation non-touch kindle in addition to the ipad air. The air is spectacular for reading programming books and the reading experience is great for anything else, especially when you need to look something up.

iBooks will sync bookmarks and notes for 'sideloaded' epubs and will automatically transfer new books onto the air. For PDFs the kindle app is great because it actually shows the table of contents(!).

It will be interesting to compare the two after extended use. This video attempts to do so, with only decent results:


I enjoy the iPad (4th gen) as a tablet but it isn't that great for reading outdoors when it is sunny and it isn't as comfortable on my eyes when in very low light. However it is great for reading technical documents (i.e. PDFs) while the Kindle's small screen is horrible for.

Does anyone know if the new Kindles are more rugged? My classic Kindle was in a protective cover when it dropped a short distance from a table to a wood floor. The screen did not crack but the e-ink display was permanently frozen.

I've dropped my paperwhite at least three feet onto concrete, and a shorter distance several times onto tile, no protective cover, no problems so far.

I got the standard protective cover which makes the unit about three times as heavy, but I can stuff it in my bag that's choking full at times without issues. Never dropped it though, but I think the thick rubber enclosure should provide some protection against that too. And I like the magnetic on/off switch.

The paperwhite is lovely. The screen is a delight to use, and doesn't annoy anyone next to you even in low light conditions. It's also really easy to read in the sun.

I have the one generation back paperwhite, and it's the best ereader I've ever had. My only critique of the new version (and it's a minor critique) is I've heard it's really hard to hack, which is a pity because I love having the jailbreak on my paperwhite that lets me add my own screensavers.

I have a Kindle paperwhite and my partner has an older Kindle touch.

I love my paperwihte and it is much better than the previous generation. I read about two hours every day on it on my commute in the train. Resolution and display lightning are great for readability and I always find something to read in the shop for fair prices (some of the self-published books on Amazon are amazing and the rating system shows where to look).

I still have an original Kindle, but would like to upgrade to the Paperwhite at some point. Normally I would say that a full tablet like a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 is more worthwhile, since Android has a perfectly capable Kindle app. But in my case, the Nexus 10 gives me terrible headaches. So I still carry a Kindle around for extended reading.

Just checked amazon.co.uk and it says "Usually dispatched within 13 to 14 days.", for the wifi only model. Huh? Does that mean they are selling them as hot cupcakes or what?

And I don't understand how the old model is only 10 quid cheaper? Surely everyone will go for the newer one at that price?

I have found that Amazon tend to be a little over the top with the "usually dispatched within N days" line. It is clever as it makes it look like they are selling loads and so if you don't order NOW you might have to wait even longer than 13 to 14 days if you order it next week (OH NO!!!!). However when I have ordered all my previous Kindles they came in a few days (not next day but always within 5) even with the two week notice. They are not actually flat out lying as they use the word "usually" but it is a little misleading. Then again it is all part of the marketing.

The answer to the question is YES, but the article is inaccurate on the main features of the Paperwhite. Unlike smartphones and tablets like the iPad, the Kindle Paperwhite isn't back-lit, but front-lit, which make all the difference in the world for your eyes.

Seems inaccurate. He says it is backlit, but it is front-lit according to amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Paperwhite-Touch-light/dp/B007O...

I am loathe to upgrade from my trusty Kindle Keyboard, just because of the free worldwide internet access. Although recently, it has failed in a few countries that I've been to. Perhaps Amazon won't support it for much longer?

This is the other reason that I bought a new Kindle Keyboard. The free internet access has saved my butt a few times travelling in foreign lands.

The main question is do you need the the back light. For me it is essential, i tend to wake around 3 am every morning and read for an hour, without interrupting my wife, which is worth the extra money.

Most people are answering the question "is it better?", but the question is "is it worth it?"

i.e. "Is it worth 2.5x the price of the standard Kindle?"

The best discontinued feature is the experimental browser on 3G. Traveling abroad and being able to pull up nyt or gmail is like a permanent tether to home.

mediocre for programming books - you have to be in landscape mode and still code snippets will wrap often. Books with terse code (like functional programming books) work mostly well, but books with less terse code are unreadable even with smallest font in landscape mode. EmberJS in Action comes to mind as totally unreadable on my paperwhite.

A++++ for regular books of all types.

Similar for math books in most cases. Equations will often be rendered as images, so they do not scale when you change the type size.

Fantastic for most novels.

Also pretty good for chess books. I've got a book of 1001 tactical problems [1] on it. They formatted the e-book version of this so that each problem starts on a new screen, with the solution starting on the next screen so you don't risk a spoiler. This is basically my default book--I usually put the Kindle to sleep with the next problem open, so that any time I have to kill a little time (commercial while watching TV, bathroom break, and so on) I can grab the Kindle, open it, and have a go at the problem.

My only complaint with this would be that the dark squares in diagrams aren't as dark as I would like. It makes the diagram look a bit faded. It wasn't anything I couldn't get used to.

I've also got FCO [2] on my Kindle. The only problem I've had with this is that sometimes I want to compare diagrams a few pages apart, and that is awkward on Kindle. With a paper book, it is faster to flip through to find a page visually, and when you have two or three pages you want to rapidly switch between it is easy to mark them all with your fingers.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Tactics-Chess-Games-Everyday-Players-e...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/FCO-Fundamental-Paul-Van-Sterren-ebook...

OP here. Yes, you're right about the front-lit screen. Sorry about that, corrections where already made.

Just to clarify - the Paperwhite does NOT have a backlight!

What does front lit mean?

It means the light source is in front of the screen [1]. There is a transparent light guide covering the screen. The lighting comes from 4 LEDs at the bottom edge of the screen, and enters the light guide. It exits the bottom of the light guide all over the area of the screen, reflects off the screen, passes through the transparent light guide, and out to your eyes.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/26/technology/lig...


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