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Kindle Paperwhite 2015 review: Same price, more pixels

Since the time it was launched in 2012, the Kindle Paperwhite has been my constant and unflinching response to the question — “what e-reader should one buy?” Even when Amazon introduced the pric


Since the time it was launched in 2012, the Kindle Paperwhite has been my constant and unflinching response to the question — “what e-reader should one buy?” Even when Amazon introduced the pricier, more loaded Kindle Voyage, I maintained that it is the Paperwhite that gave you more bang for your buck, without any great compromise on the reading experience.

With Kindle Paperwhite 2015 edition, Amazon has made sure that I stick to my recommendations for the best e-book reader out there in the market. The Paperwhite 2015 is essentially the same as its predecessor, except for a higher resolution screen. The newer model comes with a 300ppi screen, as against the 212ppi of the earlier edition. What makes this one an obvious choice, is that Amazon has decided not to charge a cent more for the enhanced experience. The Paperwhite 2015 is priced the same as the earlier Paperwhite (Rs 10,999 in India for the basic version). The more premium Kindle Voyage, which we reviewed starts from Rs 16,499.

The problem with reviewing the Kindle devices is that they are single purpose gadgets that perform their singular task rather well. So even when you go digging for flaws, what you come up with are slight aberrations to an otherwise perfect reading experience.

The biggest surprise about this Kindle is that no one was expecting Amazon to come up with this. For those who wanted specs that are perfect to a fault, Amazon designed the Voyage. For readers who wanted to match experience with price, there was the Paperwhite. And for beginners who were just looking out for a pocket friendly e-book reader, there is the New Kindle (priced at Rs 5999 in India).

What Amazon has done with the Paperwhite 2015 is a blurring of lines between this one and their Voyage. Though Voyage looks and feels more premium, the fact is that a faster and better lit Paperwhite puts the positioning of the Voyage in slightly choppy waters. The new Paperwhite, believe many, could be Amazon’s reaction to a lukewarm response for the Voyage.

Coming the the Paperwhite 2015 version – it pretty much looks and feels the same. The device houses a 6-inch display between thick black bezels. The slightly recessed display is easy to notice when you compare it with Voyage, but it doesn’t affect the reading experience in any noticeable way. The only physical button that the new Paperwhite sports is the power button at the bottom of the device. Much like its earlier version, the device is comfortable to hold with one hand. It weighs just over 200 grams, and that explains the easy grip and operationality.

It is the screen that brings the magic to the newer Paperwhite. The 6-inch plastic, capacitive touch, Carta e-ink display is whiter and crisper and much easier on the eyes. It is antiglare so it provides a great daylight reading experience, and it also comes with manual settings for adjusting the backlight. The touchgrid on the new Paperwhite, which Amazon claims is much tighter, works pretty flawlessly, though the improved RAM is sure to have a role to play with much faster response times to commands as well as page turns.

While a lot of readers focus on Kindle’s hardware and screen, Amazon has been silently innovating in the software space. This is a terrain that Amazon owns and perfects, so whatever little improvements that pop up on the software front are almost missed. For instance, the new Paperwhite offers an all-new typesetting engine that lays out words just as the “author intended them to appear.” It will add hyphenation to break words, create paragraphs with consistent lines, and adjust the spacing between words. All this, though barely noticeable, brings us much closer to a physical book reading experience.

Similarly, new kerning and ligatures automatically adjust character spacing to make it easier to recognise words at any font size. This goes a long way in enhancing recognition and thus reading speed. Another undisguised blessing from Amazon is the Whispersync that syncs your last page read, annotations and bookmarks across all your devices – a blessing for people who like to read a page or two at bedtime.

Other software offerings like Goodreads, Vocabulary Builder, Kindle Cloud and Kindle Freetime come bundled with this Kindle as well. Amazon is trying to make referrals to the dictionary while reading redundant by building its Dictionary offering for Kindles. Tap and hold a complicated word – and Voila! there comes the meaning. I tried this with words in different languages  (apart from English) like German and French, and it worked fine for them.

Other top-ups with this Kindle include the Bookerly, a font designed from ground up, exclusively for digital reading. It is contemporary, pleasing to the eyes and designed for a good experience at any size. Kindle, of course, lets you choose your fonts and sizes and spacing, in case you aren’t as pleased with Bookerly.

The Paperwhite comes with 4GB of storage which you are unlikely to run out of it for a good time to come. The battery life, never an issue with Kindles, lives up to the claim of running into weeks, rather than days, even with heavy usage.

So now the big question – should you buy it? Well, for Rs 10,999 for the Wi-Fi version and Rs 13,999 for 3G+Wi-Fi, the Kindle Paperwhite 2015 is as good a purchase as it gets in the ebook readers category.

However, if you already own a Paperwhite (previous version), I don’t think you should upgrade – given that there is only a marginal difference in the overall reading experience with the new Paperwhite. Besides, most of the software extensions (like the Bookerly font) are being rolled to the earlier Paperwhite.

On the other hand, if the Kindle Voyage was in your Amazon cart or wishlist, I suggest you remove that and get yourself this latest Paperwhite. You won’t regret it. And if it’s your first plunge into the world of e-reading, simply get the new Paperwhite. As I said, it will continue to be my heartiest recommendation for the e-book reader that deserves your money.

  • Published Date: August 4, 2015 10:20 AM IST
  • Updated Date: August 4, 2015 11:15 AM IST