To say that Amazon has been the single most powerful catalyst in the e-book revolution would not be an exaggeration. Before the introduction of the Kindle, many who adored the printed page universally scoffed at e-book readers, claiming that such devices would never replace the traditional reading experience.
But Amazon's hardware has been a real game changer, enough to force even the most ardent ebook critic to admit that Amazon's take was genuinely impressive, perhaps begrudgingly.
Yet in the recent years, the competition has become quite stiff. Mostly in the form of Apple's iPad, which offered the same functionality and form factor, but the ability to do much more. Even Amazon itself has tried producing a similar "do everything" machine, the Kindle Fire HD, which relies upon the Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.
But what about those who have no need or desire to watch movies, listen to their MP3 collection, and play games? What about those who just want to snuggle up with a good book, even if its just ultimately ones and zeroes?
Leave it to Amazon to change the game again. The latest device in the traditional Kindle line, the Kindle Paperwhite, is easily its best effort yet. Five years of refinements and improvements are clearly evident, resulting in what might be the finest pure ereader in the market today, even if it's not 100% perfect.
It comes in at just £109, which is again an impressive price for some top-end kit; yes, it's pricey compared to some e-readers, but there's no doubt this is one of the best.
First impressions of the any new piece of hardware, while not indicative of the overall experience in the end, will contribute significantly towards toward one's overall opinion. We're happy to report that it's all smiles when one unboxes and handles their Paperwhite for the very first time.
The WiFi only unit, which we're reviewing here, weighs just 213 grams and measures 16.9 cm x 11.7 cm x 0.91 cm, so it's a bit thinner than the previous Kindle model, the Kindle Touch. On a purely visual level, the Paperwhite appears to have quietly take design cues from both its predecessor and its Android driven cousin, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, mostly due to its sleeker, simpler profile.
Indeed, it's by far the best looking traditional Kindle we've ever designed. Even those who have been turned off by previous models should have very little to complain about here. The slightly garish physical keyboard from earlier modes has become a thing of the past. It also drops the rather subpar cursor pad from previous generations as well.
Instead, the front of the device sports a smooth, black matte plastic bezel, with just the Kindle name on the bottom, in white. The edges are comfortably rounded, which is nice since your hands will be rubbing against them quite a bit. Due to its low profile on all counts, the Paperwhite is a joy to behold, and seems expertly designed to fit in one hand.
Again, the device is effortless to hold, thanks to a rubberized plastic coating. It allows for easy gripping and simply cannot slip out of one's hand, no matter how sweaty your grip becomes. There's an immediate impression that the Paperwhite is a device that's suitable, and comfortable, for all situations.
Amazon has produced protective cases for the Paperwhite, but it would be purely for decoration with this latest Kindle. The overall construction is rock solid and withstood quite the pounding, while showing zero wear and tear in the end.