Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation (2013)

Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation

Since my Kindle Paperwhite 1st gen was stolen in July, I've since bought two new Kindles. I bought the simple Kindle first, and about two weeks later, the Kindle Paperwhite 2G was released, and so I bought that one too. I've no intention of having two so I'll just sell off one soon. Before that, here's a review that compares both.

So what's new?

With the Kindle Paperwhite 2G, Amazon listed the following improvements over the previous model:

  • New display technology for better contrast
  • Next generation built-in light
  • 25% faster processor
  • Better touch technology
  • Kindle Page Flip
  • Smart Lookup integrated with dictionary and wikipedia
  • Vocabulary Builder for improving your knowledge using flashcards

The improvements are great, but not significant. Let's go over the features.

Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation

Display

Amazon has already mastered the contrast they can put in the Kindle a few years ago. The contrast is similar to that of a newsprint paper, or paperback novel.

You get to change between several fonts, serifs and sans-serif, or the publisher font. You can also adjust line spacing, font size, or margins to mimic the layout of traditional novels. The display provides a very good reading experience.

Size, weight, design

At a screen size of 6 inches, most people should be able to hold the Kindle comfortably in one hand. It's even lighted than paperback novels.

The one thing I still don't like is the lack of physical page turn buttons that you see in the simple Kindle. Those are way more convenient than having to use a finger to tap or swipe the touchscreen for a page flip. When you're holding the Paperwhite with one hand, your fingers are already stretched and it will be an extra stretch to tap for a page flip.

Built-in back-lit light

The backlit light is now improved. The lighting is much more even. Previous generation had some issue with uneven lighting at the bottom but that was solved in this model. It was a really minor issue.

Paperwhite is the only model with back-lit light currently. If you don't see yourself reading in the dark, you can save some money by buying the simple Kindle (no touchscreen though).

Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation

Touchscreen

The touchscreen is very useful for selecting words directly, rather than having to go through several button presses. It's very convenient when you need it. Personally, I don't mind using physical buttons to navigate to a word, but it only gets tedious if you do it a lot. When I read, I don't find myself checking out words that often.

If you're trying to learn a language, and always checking up words, then it's really convenient.

Wi-fi

All your purchased Kindle ebooks are stored on Amazon's website. On your Kindle, you'll see the books listed and you can download with the wi-fi. There's no need to store a hundred books in your Kindle.

If you want to read stuff you downloaded elsewhere, you can transfer them to your Kindle from the computer via USB cable provided.

Compared to simple Kindle

Simple Kindle does not have touchscreen and back-light. Paperwhite does not have physical page-flip buttons.

Touch screen is a nice convenience to have.

Back-light may be useful but unless you like to read in the dark, you can save some money by choosing the simple Kindle. Even while reading on trains, at areas where I don't get much light, the words on the Kindle is still very legible because the contrast is great.

Major downside of Paperwhite is the lack of physical page-flip buttons. This means you have to use two hands instead of one. Always moving your other hand to tap or swipe for a page flip can get tiring. When you're on the train, with one hand you're holding the grab pole, the other hand is holding the Paperwhite. There's no third hand to flip the pages, unless you go for the extra stretch with your Paperwhite-holding hand, and it's not easy.

Compared to Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD or other small form tablets

The good thing about Kindle and the ecosystem is you can install reading apps on your mobile phones, tablets and computers. You can access all the Kindle ebooks you've bought online.

The obvious difference is the price.

The non obvious difference is with the Kindle, you're only going to be mainly reading, and you won't be distracted by checking emails, updating your social media pages, or surfing the web. So those who actually love to read, I recommend the Kindle.

If you're reading for short periods of time, such as while commuting, then you can probably read on your large screen mobile phone or tablet without having to buy another gadget. For longer periods, it's better because you won't strain your eyes.

Should you get the ad version?

Kindles with sponsored ads are $20 cheaper. Those ads appear in the form of a screensaver when the Kindle is idle, or appear at the bottom of your Kindle when your list of books are displayed. They do not appear while you're reading. A savings of $20 is quite a good deal especially when the ads are so non-obtrusive.

Should you upgrade from Paperwhite 1G to 2G

Save the money for when Amazon upgrades this big time, like putting back the page-flip button.

Which case to get?

I prefer using the Kindle without any case because it's just lighter. So I choose the BUILT Neoprene Kindle Slim Sleeve Case. That way, I can just put the case away in my bag easily. If you upgrade to other Kindles in the future, you can reuse this case.

Conclusion

Amazon Paperwhite 2nd Generation is great device for reading. It's small and light with convenient touchscreen for navigating around. The downside is only the lack of physical page-flip buttons.

You might note that I mention those page-flip buttons a lot. They are important in the overall reading experience. That's why.

If you know you don't read in darkness, you can get the simple Kindle and save up to $50.

Availability

The Kindle Paperwhite 2nd generation is available at:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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