Friday, Jan 18, 2019 | Last Update : 02:31 PM IST
A minor external refresh of the world's favourite ereader sporting some big internal changes.
Amazon’s e-readers are second to none. Over the past few years, the brand has cemented itself as the number one option for those who want the convenience of an e-reader without shelling out some serious cash for a tablet. The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon’s top-selling eBook reader and even though its last update came way back in 2015, it still continued pulling in the numbers.
In 2018, Amazon has updated the Kindle Paperwhite and included features available in their high-end e-reader, the Kindle Oasis. Now, with the affordability of the Paperwhite, we also get features such as a handy waterproof design and the ability to listen to audiobooks via Audible as well. Oh, and Amazon has also altered the look as well giving it a flush design that will appease any book lover.
Read on to know whether the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite is the option for you
To start off, the all-new Kindle Paperwhite is the brand’s mid-range ebook reader that resides between the expensive Kindle Oasis and the pocket-friendly Kindle. With this new addition, Amazon aims to bring all the features of the costlier Oasis to a whole new audience, thereby extending its market share in this category.
The design fits in tune with its pricing and we now have a rubberised plastic back that’s intended to be easier to hold for extended reading sessions. This finish adds to the no-nonsense look; however, it does manage to retain a ton of fingerprints. This takes away its look, but it’s not intended to be a looker but, more of a functional device.
It appears that Amazon is aware of this and has also launched a number of cases that can be used to preserve and enhance its design. You can purchase a cover with a thin design that snaps onto the Kindle Paperwhite. The covers open like a book, automatically waking the device when opened and putting it to sleep when closed. You can choose from three materials in a variety of colours: a premium leather cover for Rs 2,999 in rustic; leather covers, all Rs 2,399, in black, merlot, punch red, and indigo purple; and water-safe fabric covers, all Rs 1,799, in charcoal black, canary yellow, and marine blue.
This device doesn’t feel as premium as the Oasis, but its lightweight design adds to its functionality. Weighing just 182g and measuring 8.18mm at its thickest, it is very comfortable to hold for hours at a time. Weighing less than that of a conventional paperback book, we found ourselves getting engrossed in the e-reading experience and losing the track of time.
At the bottom is a power button and a micro-USB charging port. Apart from this, there are no physical buttons found anywhere on the device, making for comfortable reading without accidentally tapping on a button. The only controls are the touchscreen itself.
There are no more ugly plastic bezels here, and the Kindle is now an all-glass front panel. The bezels here are a bit thick, but this allows you to place your thumb on the side without accidentally touching the display and flipping the page, apart from now being much easier to clean. In what is a first for the Paperwhite, the display sits flush with the bezels, thereby giving it a premium look. The display surface is still not glass and remains plastic, but tougher and non-reflective. This makes the device less brittle and lighter.
Amazon has discontinued the use of any physical buttons to flip through pages. Hence, you get a display that’s responsive to any touch inputs. There is a 6-inch display added here and it sports a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. There has been no change in this feature in comparison to its predecessor and this cement it as the perfect display resolution for your ebook consumption. Amazon has improved on the brightness levels making it easy to read in direct sunlight; however, you may not really be able to notice it as it performs exceptionally well in any ambient lighting.
A feature Amazon has stressed upon with the updated Paperwhite is its IPX8 ingress rating. The all-new Kindle Paperwhite is designed to withstand accidental splash in the rain, drops in the bathtub, hot tub, pool and beach. It’s IPX8 rated to protect against immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes.
Amazon has bumped up the internal storage and now the base version comes with 8GB while the top-end variant comes with 32GB of space. If you are just consuming eBooks, then the 32GB or even the 8GB of storage may seem like overkill. However, Amazon has also allowed for audiobook compatibility in the Paperwhite and each audiobook file would take up a lot of space. However, audiobooks from Audible is a pretty expensive affair so getting a ton of these files may not be the most economical decision to make for most. If you feel that you won’t be storing too many audiobooks, then the 8GB variant should suffice you.
Having audiobook integration has been adopted from the Oasis, so Amazon has gone all out to add most of the great features from their high-end product in a more affordable option. There is no speaker on the Paperwhite, so, to listen to audiobooks from Audible, but you can pair the device with Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker to help you there. You can easily switch between an audiobook and an ebook of a title if you do have both as the software allows you to do so.
Speaking about software, the new Kindle Paperwhite comes with the latest Kindle UI that allows you to easily download and purchase ebooks using your Amazon account. The interface is pretty easy to navigate around and if you have used a Kindle in the past, you will feel right at home here. But there are a few new features that particularly piqued our interest — the updated home screen, and the ability to save multiple reading settings. The new home experience makes it easier to find your next read based on your reading history, including books that are free for you to read from Kindle Unlimited or Prime Reading. Also, you can now save multiple reading settings, selecting the font, boldness level, and orientation settings you prefer, all from the main menu and quickly switch between those settings.
Lastly, the 32GB Paperwhite comes with 4G that has a lifetime service, for free. You don't need to plug in any SIM, but rather, Amazon has tied up with Vodafone to offer this data plan which will last a lifetime. All-in-all, these are some additional benefits if you happen to be travelling overseas, you can take advantage of the free cellular service to download ebooks. So you can download books from anywhere in the world as Amazon and Vodafone give you lifetime international 4G data for free. However, the data connection has a cap on the download speeds, which is good enough for downloading books only.
Similar to all Kindles, you are somewhat only tied to the Kindle store for accessing books. The device lacks support for ePubs; side-loading is possible but you will have to jump through some hoops to get your personal collection on the device and probably you may lose warranty on the contrary too. Your best bet is to take advantage of a Kindle Unlimited subscription which starts at Rs 199 that allows you access to over a million ebook titles.
Amazon rates the Kindle at 6 weeks on a single charge. In our tests, we found this to be fairly accurate and reading sessions for about half an hour a day for most days for about three weeks left us with 60 per cent battery still to consume. However, if you do have longer reading sessions with the brightness turned up to its maximum, then you could expect a lower battery life. With the 32GB version featuring a 4G/cellular connection, you can be sure that battery life will take a massive hit if you are continuously downloading content. To ensure your battery lasts a while longer, we strongly suggest getting on to airplane mode when not needed.
A neat feature of the Kindle Paperwhite is that it charges up fairly quickly. So, an hour and a half worth of charge will take the battery from 0 to 100 per cent.
The Kindle Paperwhite 8GB version is priced at Rs 12,999 while the 32GB/4G variant costs Rs 17,999. If you happen to have an affinity for consuming a large number of books or if you are just an avid book/comic reader, then the Kindle Paperwhite is the way to go. As a voracious reader, we have been hooked on the Paperwhite since we received it and having a large number of books in the palms of our hands made us rediscover the joy of reading. We were enthralled by its light weight and its textured rear and we found reading for hours to be no different than reading a book. So if you do happen to have an older Kindle and find that the new features are worth your fancy, then this makes for an excellent choice.