Review Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader has solved several problems for me and overcome a shortcoming of the iPad. If only it didn’t also make me guilty about adding another device to my already computer-infested life.
As I slide into middle age, I’m wearing reading glasses more often. I’ve come to them quite late in life and own an iPad that lets me read e-books with enlarged text, so have been slow to acclimate to habitual use of my specs. But using a tablet creates the modern problem of being distracted: at night I can doomscroll myself close to sleep before I read much of a book. Another problem is that the strong light from a tablet isn’t appreciated by the other person in the bed.
My fix for both problems is Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition.
If you’ve ever used a Kindle, the 2021 Paperwhite experience will be very familiar. It’s a slim unit with not much to it other than its black and white e-ink screen that flickers a little as you swipe to turn pages. The device is intimately entangled with Amazon’s e-book store, but tolerant of DRM-free books sourced from elsewhere if you learn a trick or two.
Amazon’s new Kindle Signature Edition.
Click to enlarge.
The new Paperwhite adds USB-C and, in the Signature edition, wireless charging. The UI has also been updated – notably with a setup routine that is an exemplar of how to walk users through their first 15 minutes with a device and sync it with their digital worlds.
At night, it shines – literally and in a nicely muted fashion that makes text readable in the dark but won’t disturb anyone adjacent either in bed or on a plane (if any of us ever fly again). It renders text well, and illustrations passably – I could read comics on it, but would not choose to do so.
Overall, the device is zippy and pleasing, but not without little flaws.
I find the Paperwhite a little too small and it doesn’t offer landscape mode to offer an alternative grip. Increasing text size to the point at which I can read it without specs means not much text makes it onto the virtual page – which makes for enough page turning that settling in for a good read feels like it comes with an ongoing flurry.
Menus can be hard to find and aren’t intuitively nested. It would also be lovely if the USB-C port could host headphones, so that Amazon’s excellent synchronisation between e-books and audio books could be put into play. Doing so would make sense, given the Paperwhite ships with 32GB of memory.
But overall, it’s a delight.
Now for a confession
The Paperwhite has found a place as the fourth computer I use at various times of the day.
I use my phone first thing in the morning to catch up with the world and listen to radio news, then move to my tablet to use a newspaper-reading app. Next comes several hours writing this sort of thing on a PC, before returning to my phone for some before-dinner gaming, then often using my tablet to look up a recipe for dinner. After dinner, I’m back on the phone to solve my daily word puzzle, before getting onto the Kindle to read.
This is, I …….