When it made the 2012 Paperwhite, Amazon built the best ereader on the market. Now in 2013 its gone and improved on an already standard smashing design. Great ease of use, impressive battery life and a well rounded ecosystem make it the only pure ereader worth owning.
However, close to perfect is not perfect. There's still a flaw or two worth mentioning, but if you want one, this new Paperwhite is simply the best ereader on the market. Just don't expect to do anything more than eread with it.
The Paperwhite is a perfect size. If you're coming from a Nexus 10 or an iPad, or even a seven incher like the Nexus 7 or iPad Mini, it'll seem small out of the box. Spend some time with it, however, and you'll agree, it shouldn't be any bigger.
As it is, it's easy to hold with one hand, and so light and thin that you can keep it in your bag without a second thought, just in case there's time to read. The simple page turning interface works flawlessly, and it's just a tad faster than last year's model.
Speaking of last year's model, gone are the annoying dark spots near the bottom of the screen. They were really only visible if you read in low light, but never should have been an issue and marred the experience over all.
Amazon's ereader has a nice and simple interface that makes it easy to buy and read books, or get a little more information on what you're reading. Dictionary definitions and Wikipedia blurbs are only ever a long press away, and the store easy to navigate, and will instantly and easily forgive an accidental purchase.
The battery life may fall short of the eight weeks Amazon is claiming, with WiFi and all, but it's still brag worthy. Expect to go weeks without a charge, or months if you keep WiFi or 3G use to an absolute minimum.
Finally, Amazon's library of books is huge, and priced very competitively.
There's still a bit of delay when turning pages. It's a tiny bit less than on last year's model, but if there's one place where would've wanted a noticeable improvement, it's here.
The lack of EPUB support is annoying, mainly because it forces you to use third-party converters to read titles Amazon probably isn't selling anyway. The Paperwhite is also hit or miss as far getting PDFs to format legibly goes.
The ads on the lock screen and home screen make the device impersonal, and can sometimes be embarrassing. Goodness forbid anyone on the train thinks you're reading Promise Me Heaven, the story of Lady Catherine Sinclair, who will "do whatever necessary to save her family from financial ruin - including marrying the town's most eligible bachelor for money." Yes, that's a title that popped up for us.
Overall the recommendations don't feel tailored to our tastes, and Amazon has made some poor choices about what to leave on by default. We don't need to see a recommendation stream on the home screen or what other readers have highlighted unless we ask to, thank you very much.
Also, it's a pretty cheapskate move to leave an AC adapter out of the box, then offer one as a $15 accessory. We don't care how long the battery lasts, that's highway robbery.
Because it's a small, black and white screen, the Paperwhite is not the way to read comics or heavily illustrated titles.
Finally, although we did not test a 3G version of the Paperwhite, that sort of connectivity on an ereader seems pretty pointless. You're paying $40 extra to get books instantly, no matter where you are, but how often are you out of WiFi range, and can you really not wait to get home to buy a new book? Your money would be better spent removing the ads from a WiFi model, or on just buying more books.
Do you want an ereader? A device that lets you read an ebook in any lighting condition? Then buy the Paperwhite.
Don't get it if you're expecting even a fraction of the versatility of a true tablet, like the Nexus 7 or an iPad. This is a device for reading, and reading only, and it does that very, very well.
It's light, easy to use and has battery life worth bragging about. Amazon could stand to be a little friendlier to other ebook formats, but it's actually one of the best ecosystems to invest in, since the Kindle app can be used across iOS, Android and Windows devices.
The Paperwhite is still the finest ereader on the market. Buy the WiFi version with the lock screen ads (which you can always pay to remove should they bother you much). Your eyes will thank you, and so will your wallet.