Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2013) review

The Paperwhite is the only ereader worth owning

TODO alt text

The Kindle Paperwhite doesn't have apps like an Android or iOS device, but Amazon has brought more to the Kindle reading experience than a massive library of affordably priced titles and an easy to read screen. It also puts more information about your reading material at your fingertips than most formats.

Kindle Store

Amazon's book selection for the Kindle is second to none. The company claims close 2 million titles, and you'd be hard pressed to think of one that it doesn't have in some form or another. Also, while far from DRM-free, Amazon's digital books are far less restricted than ones from Apple's App Store, which can only be read on iOS or OS X devices. You can read an Amazon book on Android, iOS, Windows or Mac devices through the free Kindle app.

It goes without saying that the Kindle Store is very well integrated into the Paperwhite experience. It's at a touch without being in your face - once you disable that Amazon Recommends feed on the homescreen, anyway.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The store's search is powerful, to the point where you can be incredibly sloppy with your spellings and still find what you're after. That's nice because as we've discussed, the typing experience isn't the best.

Once you've selected a book, one touch buying is fully integrated, and the option to cancel a purchase is immediately presented, in case you've made a costly slip of the finger, or suffer split second buyer's remorse.

We do wish that there were some kind of warning for titles with lots of photographs or illustrations. There have been a few times where we've regretted buying a Kindle ebook instead of physical copy, once we opened it and saw all those pictures in grainy black and white.

The Paperwhite's display just isn't that great when it comes to images. However, the fact that you can get a sample of a chapter or two, from any book in the store, offers a good chance to see if you'd be better off reading on an iPad, or opting for a print copy.


X-Ray exposes the bones of your text, providing a character breakdown of any book you're reading. Can't remember where old so-and-so came from? No problem, just highlight his name for a quick breakdown of his (spoiler-free) biography and first appearance. It's a phenomenal feature for dense titles; it's like getting a free, bare bones CliffsNotes with every book.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review

However, there's an obvious dearth in quality, and accuracy, with titles that have professionally managed X-Ray info, and ones that are cobbled together by an automatic scan of the book. A big series like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings has a phenomenally succinct X-Ray info, but a book like The Disaster Artist, which chronicles the production of the infamous cult film The Room, was less accurate, but still useful.

For example, in The Disaster Artist, X-Ray mixed up the character of Johnny with a single mention of the actor Johnny Depp. So instead of a character bio, it gave an entry from Depp's Wikipedia page. However, it correctly identified Tommy Wiseau, The Room's infamous director, and provided a helpful excerpt from his Wikipedia page, with the a link to the full entry a touch.

Experimental Browser

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review

Yes, the Paperwhite can navigate the web, albeit badly. The aptly named Experimental Browser is available from the settings menu, and it does indeed look like something that's still going through trials in the lab. It's fun if you'd like a glimpse of what the web would look like were it served up on newspaper.

It's a curiosity and nothing more. The Paperwhite's need to refresh the entire page when scrolling, combined with its slow typing and colorless display make it a pretty atrocious web experience for anything other than glancing at a Wikipedia page.

Fortunately, browsing the web isn't what the Paperwhite was designed for, so we're more than willing to let this one slide. Just keep this in mind and don't expect to catch up on your TechRadar reviews on this ereader.

Vocabulary Builder

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review

In addition to Wikipedia search, the Kindle Paperwhite has a built dictionary. It can offer a definition of a highlighted word, even without an internet connection.

Whenever you look up a word, the Paperwhite squirrels it away in the Vocabulary Builder. This is basically a grid view that allows you to refresh your memory of words that previously mystified you.

Vocab Builder is divided into two sections: Learning and Mastered. Recently defined words land in Learning. Once in Learning, words can be marked as Mastered, or simply deleted, if you're sick of them mocking your ignorance. Mastered words are still tracked, while deleted ones are gone forever.

This feature is a bit buried, you can only find it by opening the settings menu while in a book, then scrolling down to Vocabulary Builder

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Text Reader
Flash Memory Capacity2 GB
Colour SupportGrayscale (16-bit)
Brand NameAmazon
Battery Run Time1344 Hour
Product LineKindle
Screen Size15.2 cm (6")
Wireless LANYes
Display Screen TypeE Ink
Cellular Data Connectivity Technology3G
Height170.2 mm
Width116.8 mm
Depth9.1 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, Inc
Product NameKindle Paperwhite 3G
Manufacturer Part Number53000264
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Unsurpassed Resolution

Our Paperwhite display offers 62% more pixels, and renders exceptionally sharp, clear text and images.

Stunning Contrast

Kindle Paperwhite 3G's screen has 25% higher contrast. Crisp, dark text against a brilliant white background makes for the perfect read.

Innovative Built-in Light

Paperwhite guides light towards the display from above instead of projecting it out at your eyes like back-lit displays, thereby reducing screen fatigue. You can adjust your screen's brightness to create a perfect reading experience in all lighting conditions, from bright sunlight to bedtime reading.

Limited Warranty1 Year
Host InterfaceUSB 2.0
Weight (Approximate)222 g