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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite - Screen and Interface

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



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Kindle Paperwhite Screen and Light

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has lost a bit of feature mass here, gained a bit there, but the screen is all-win for the new model. However break through the top light layer and the capacitive toucshcreen and you'll find the same basic tech that has powered Kindle ereaders since the early days - an E-ink screen.

For the uninitiated, these E-ink screens use charged black and white microcapsules to produce monochrome images that look more natural than those of an LCD screen. The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite's light is likely so steal the most attention, but the E-ink panel itself is also improved over the Touch's one.

Resoluion has been increased from 600 x 800 "pixels" to 768 x 1,024, with a pixel density of 212dpi. This results in significantly sharper text, compared with older Kindle models. The only ereader to offer this resolution to date in the UK is the iRiver Story HD, which might as well have been made of unicorn tears given how readily available it is/was in the UK.

212dpi is well below the pixel density offered by the "Retina" screen of an iPhone 5. However, even when getting your eyeball uncomfortably close to the screen you'll be hard-pressed to notice any of the "blockiness" that was quite clear in previous versions.

We will admit, though, that the glow light of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a bigger new feature for the line than improved resolution. Four LEDs fire upwards from the bottom of the screen, the light passing through a "nanoimprinted light guide" that disperses it throughout the 6in display.

Kindle Paperwhite 1

It successfully lets you read in the dark, with a look that's more relaxing on the eyes than a more intense backlit display. However, the light dispersal is not entirely even. There's a clear concentration of light towards the bottom of the screen that we'd hope to see this improved in future iterations. The light is also blueish in hue - which you might not expect given the thing's called "Paperwhite".

Kindle Paperwhite

You're given a decent amount of control over the intensity of the light, and can turn it off completely if it's not needed. There are 24 gradations of light power, and it's accessible within two taps while you're reading.

Kindle Paperwhite Interface

Amazon has given the Kindle interface a fairly drastic redesign for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The basic concept is the same - put the books you read most recently within a single tap - and pages are still turned with a tap, but the rest of the navigation has changed.

It's all based around a bar of icons that sits at the top of the screen, and can be conjured with a single tap up in the top part of the screen while you’re reading. There are six icons here that take you to or control all the Kindle's key areas - Home, "back", light control, Kindle Store, Search and Settings.

Kindle Paperwhite 2

There's also a secondary nav bar that changes depending on whether you're on the home screen or reading a book. On the home screen, there's a little button that lets you switch between your local library - ebooks stored on your Paperwhite's internal memory - and your Cloud library. That's everything you have bought from the Kindle Store in the past.

It's this ease of access that should stop all but the most insufferable of tech pedants from caring about the reduced internal memory of the Paperwhite. 2GB will do, case closed, especially when there's no point storing MP3s on the Kindle Paperwhite.

Martin Daler

October 20, 2012, 3:03 pm

I can just about comprehend Amazon's curmudgeonly attitude to lending libraries - their MO seems to be to tempt you into the water with a profitless Kindle price, and make hay on the book sales. So all the more reason to rue the fact that it is not possible to buy someone the gift of a book via Kindle.

With Christmas on its way, and birthdays ever present, what better that to buy all those Kindle-toting friends and family a nice book to read on their latest gadget? But, incomprehensibly, not possible.


October 22, 2012, 5:23 pm

Amazon gift voucher?

Martin Daler

October 23, 2012, 1:24 am

or why not just slip a 20 quid note in their chrimbo card? It's hardly the same as choosing and giving a book, which was my original point.


November 28, 2012, 7:08 pm

"Hold a finger down over a word and the OED description will pop up"

Actually, it's the Oxford Dictionary of English, which is a very different beast. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O...

Useful review otherwise :-)


June 3, 2013, 1:54 pm

Get a Kobo Glo and get use of 'free' library books; it has saved me many hundreds of pounds (UK) already!


June 3, 2013, 1:56 pm

Get a Kobo Glo (which is arguably better anyway) and get free library books. Alternatively, carry on and pay Amazon.

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