When the original Paperwhite was first announced, its most trumpeted breakthrough was incredible battery life. Amazon claimed it could go up to eight weeks without a charge, and holds fast to this on the new model.
On everything from laptops to smartphones, manufacturer battery life claims are generally a bit inflated. We imagined the fine print would read, "if you stay off the web, keep the brightness to the lowest setting and do nothing but compose email."
Amazon is not fibbing when claim truly impressive battery life, but using WiFi or dialing up the brightness will definitely take a bigger chunk out of your charge than that eight week claim is estimating.
Still, with services like WiFi and 3G disabled, you'll be able to get close to that two-month claim. In the two weeks we had device, we didn't need to charge the Paperwhite once, and that's with leaving WiFi on the entire time.
Like pretty much any tablet not made by Apple, the Paperwhite charges via microUSB. A cable of decent length is included in the box. A compatible 5W AC adapter, however, is not.
We're not sure why Amazon does this. Perhaps it's trying to brag about the Paperwhite's battery life, and it's own shipping speeds? "By the time you realize we haven't given you a plug, you'll still have time to order one, fill a cart for super saver shipping and wait for it to arrive. That's how power efficient this device is.
Even though you can charge your Paperwhite with any old smartphone plug or USB port, it's an irksome decision. Especially since a 5W AC adapter pops up as a suggested accessory, and Amazon wants $15 for one. That's a rip off. Opt for generic, people, and Amazon, just put one in the box.
As far as internet connectivity goes, the standard model has WiFi that supports all your standard 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n. Unless your router is carved out of stone, you won't have any trouble getting online.
There's also a model with 3G, through AT&T's HSDPA or EDGE/GPRS networks. Even though there's no monthly fee for the service, just an upticked initial cost, it strikes us a waste of money.
Since web surfing is best avoided on a Paperwhite, all its good for is delivering an ebook the very second you decide you want it. Are you really that impatient? I certainly hope not. And are you ever really that far from a WiFi signal? I certainly don't think so.
Also, to get the most out of your Paperwhite's battery, your WiFi should be off most of the time anyway, so 3G really seems superfluous. However, if the $40 if nothing to you, you might as well spring for it so you can get the most out of it whilst reading on your yacht, as you light your cigars with $100 bills.
Amazon would very much like you to buy your books from them, thank you. That's probably why the Paperwhite does not support EPUB, the most popular free ebook format on the web.
That's not to say that you cannot read an EPUB title on your Paperwhite, it'll just require some work. There are lot of programs out there that will convert the title into a format Amazon accepts, though it occurs with varying degrees of ease. You may not always be happy with the results, either. It can take some finagling to get the margins and font size to an acceptable standard.
The same goes for PDFs. While the Paperwhite has native support for Adobe's PDF ubiquitous document format, the results aren't always pretty, or legible. Margins are often massive, fonts faint, and the result isn't always worth bother.
Also, the Paperwhite gives you only 1.25GB of available storage, and you'll be surprised how quickly a few image heavy PDFs can fill that up.
However, Amazon has a lot of user friendly ways of delivering this non-Amazon content to the Paperwhite. Your device has a unique email address, and to send a compatable document to it, you simply email it as an attatchment. Just make Paperwhite entry in your address book, and you can easily zip these documents off. There's also a Send to Kindle app, which works much like Pocket or Instapaper, for reading a web article on your Paperwhite, without using the clunky browser.
Bottom line, Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite works best with ebooks bought from Amazon. Surprise, surprise. Reading anything else can often be chore of converters and compatibility errors. It's possible, but not for the easily frustrated or non-tech savvy.