The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite's chief claim to fame is it e-ink screen, and deservedly so. This screen uses minimal power to display black and white text and images.
Amazon likes to say that to the human eye, reading on the Paperwhite is the same as the printed page. That's a bit lofty, but it is an all around excellent reading experience.
It's the first to use e-ink's Pearl 2 display and it's incredibly easy on the eyes. It's totally non-reflective, so you won't catch light or your own image in the display.
Most importantly, it can be read easily in two places where laptop and tablet displays routinely washout or strain the eye: in direct sunlight or low light.
The fact that it's so good outside, combined with its diminutive size, make it the perfect device to toss in a bag for a trip to the park. It's light and versatile enough that we enjoyed keeping it in our backpack, just in case we found a few spare moments to digest a chapter.
In total darkness a backlight keeps the Paperwhite readable. If you've ever flipped open an iPad in the dead of night, only to have your retinas briefly seared before the brightness dialed down, know that that won't happen here.
The Paperwhite's brightness is manually adjustable on a 24-point scale. The default is 16, a mild amount of lighting perfect for average indoor light or a slightly cloudy day outdoors.
Because the Paperwhite has no camera or light sensor, which other devices use to regulate their screens, all backlight adjustments must be made manually. However, we only ever needed to do so in extreme lighting conditions.
It's possible to read the Paperwhite in an pitch black bedroom, without disturbing someone sleeping next to you. Reading by lamp or natural light is always more comfortable than a device's backlight, but the Paperwhite easily bests other tablets or computers in this regard.
The display also fixes one irksome error of last year's Paperwhite. The first Paperwhite suffered from a slightly uneven backlight, which produced dark spots at the bottom of the screen.
This blemishes were easiest to see in the dark. Luckily, they appeared at the bottom, where there was no text, but it was an annoying flaw that kept the device from seeming truly premium.
That's not a problem here though, and the result is the most comfortable, readable screen we've seen yet on an ereader. It also sports improved contrasts compared to last year's model.
However, you have to weigh all that easy on the eyes goodness against the fact that this is a small, black and white screen. That means that comics, and other publications that rely heavily on images, won't be much fun on a Paperwhite.
If you're a big graphic novel reader, or plan to share a lot of heavily illustrated children's books with a little one, the Paperwhite is not the right device. However, were you to purchase a title on your Paperwhite, only to discover that it's full of illustrations, you would be able to access it on your computer, iOS or Android device. The wide compatibility of Amazon's Kindle ecosystem is a decent consolation prize.
While the page turn delay has improved a smidge from last year's model, entire display still has to refresh in order to show something new. This includes turning a page, or even scrolling down a menu. Given that, it's really best for the slow and steady turn of the page, not flicking rapidly through a document
If you buy a Paperwhite, you do so for one reason: to read text. If you do so, you'll be wholeheartedly satisfied with the display's gentle treatment of your eyes. If you try to stretch it beyond that, you'll be disappointed, but make no mistake, this is the best e-ink display out there.