Kindle Paperwhite

I’ve had the Kindle Paperwhite for only a few hours, but I want to get down a few quick first impressions.

As far as the object itself, it’s a big win. None-more-black, grippy, heavier than the vanilla Kindle 4 I just sold, but not enough to matter. The screen has a kind of matte finish that feels almost like paper, which I think has a nice psychological effect of removing the device from comparison to tablets. I also got the official Amazon cover, which has a magnetic clasp that turns the device on and off, a la iPad Smart Covers, and that’s more useful than I predicted: it really is like opening and closing an actual book.

The illumination is excellent. It really doesn’t shine at you, but simply lends a soft glow, giving the screen marvelous contrast that just makes previous models’ displays look like old LCD watches from the 80s. Yes, there is inconsistency in light coverage at the very, very bottom of the screen, and yes, it’s definitely noticeable. So far, not a deal breaker by any stretch, but it will take time to see if I get used to it enough to stop thinking about it every time I see it.

The software is leaps and bounds improved from the Kindle Touch. Far more responsive, it starts to approach a half-decent tablet in its speed and sensitivity. It’s still not stellar, but it’s still hampered by the fact that we’re taking about an e-ink screen. Amazon changed the touch screen from infrared (detecting your finger as it passes an invisible light grid) to capacitive (actually detecting contact with the screen) and you can very much tell the difference. The Kindle Touch is junk in comparison.

The resolution is vastly improved as well from previous models, but it so much that it quite achieves what it sets out to do with fonts. The original default font looks far better than it did, but while the near-Retina-iPad resolution allows for a wider variety of fonts, they’re mostly not executed very well, and fancy typefaces like Baskerville and Palatino look pixelated. I guess it’s nice they’re there, but since you can easily see the difference is resolution between those and the default Caecilia font, I’m likely to stick with that. But UI elements overall look far better than they did, and even the crappy web browser is better looking.

So far, this seems to easily be the best Kindle, and probably best e-ink based reader available.

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