Review Price £109.00
While reading on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, the secondary nav bar shows off some of the ereader's additional features. First, there's the panel that lets you control font size, font style, line spacing and margins.
The Kindle range has traditionally, and continues to, offer far fewer options in this area than most rivals. You get much more choice with a Kobo eReader Touch or Sony PRS-T1. However, there's easily enough to satisfy most people. You have eight font sizes, six fonts, and three spacing/margin options a piece.
The second option in this menu bar is the simple "go to", which pops-up a contents page for your book. Properly-formatted ebooks will display chapter names and so on.
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Next up is the far more interesting X-Ray, which was introduced in 2011. This again only works properly with fully-formatted ebooks, and lets you delve a little further into the background of a novel. It shows you a list of characters and where they appear throughout the book, as a little bar graphic. Tap on one of them and it'll show you the passages they appear in, and offer further info on locations and so on from sources like Wikipedia.
The last bar the Settings in this nav bar is Share, which lets you post a message and a link to the book you're reading on Facebook and Twitter.
Just as important as these additional features are those that were more-or-less the same in the Kindle Touch. Hold a finger down over a word and the OED description will pop up, along with options to highlight it, translate it, look it up on Wikipedia or share it on your social networks.
Although the interface of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has been given significant overhaul to work with all-touch input, the look of the Kindle Store has remained largely the same. It's simple, it offers newspaper magazines and blogs as well as books, and offers the best delivery system in the business.
Using what Amazon calls Whispernet, books can be transferred to your Kindle automatically even if you buy them using a computer. This works even better if you have a 3G Kindle rather than a Wi-Fi one as the Kindle 3G service works throughout the world.
Contrary to what some believe too, you can easily transfer an existing ebook collection over to the Paperwhite. Plug the ereader into a computer with the supplied microUSB cable and you're given full access to the internal memory. You can easily drag and drop files.
The one issue here is that the Paperwhite does not support EPUB, perhaps the most common file format among non-Kindle users. This also rules-out being able to loan books from the UK's lending libraries because - you guessed it - they use EPUB. However, there are tools available online that let you convert your EPUBs to a compatible format.
Ebook types the Kindle Paperwhite can get on with include AZW (Kindle format), MOBI, PDF, DOC, JPG, GIF, BMP and PNG. Those who will have to spend a significant amount of time looking at PDFs are better off with the Sony PRS-T1, though, as navigating them on the new Kindle is borderline painful. You can use the multi-touch capacitive touchscreen to zoom in and out of pages, but the re-rendering of them is too slow, making the whole process cumbersome.
The built-in browser tells a similar story. It's the one "experimental" feature that remains in the Kindle Paperwhite, and as it's a bit slow and cumbersome is best considered "for emergency use only". However, pick up the 3G edition and it's very handy for checking out some essentials when on holiday - side-stepping the roaming charges you may pick up with a smartphone.
Selling for the same price as the Kindle Touch, but offering an altogether more attractive set of features, the Kindle Paperwhite represents excellent value. It's not quite the feature-filled gadget that the keyboard Kindle seemed when it arrived back in 2010, but the features this latest version has lost are ones that felt a bit like superfluous bits of material flapping around the core Kindle coattails.
There's room for improvement in future models, but the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is the best, most complete version-feeling of the Kindle to date. It doesn't have every feature the series has ever offered, but it does offer everything that related to what Kindles are all about - reading. And the light will seem nothing short of a revelation to those who spent £60 on a Kindle light case a few years ago.
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