Other Media Review

Kindle Paperwhite: My Review

Kindle Paperwhite

Last night my Kindle Paperwhite (which I've been calling the Kindle Paperweight without meaning to, and the name has stuck) arrived. I had this scheduled on my calendar as soon as I received the shipping notification. I wanted time completely alone to set up the Kindle – and to my surprise my sons were about as excited about the new Kindle as I was. They wanted me to open the box in front of them, which was bonehead easy, thanks to Amazon's truly (and I mean this) excellent packaging initiative. 

Not only is the entire box easy to open (rip tab, lift lid, ahoy Kindle!) but the whole damn package is recyclable. I can't even tell you how much I love that. 

The packaging is part of the presentation (something Apple figured out a long time ago) and my kids thought it was a big deal that I got to rip the paper off my Kindle box and open it with them. TA DA! 


No really: TA DA! 

The Kindle's Box: all recyclable paper, easy to open.


It kind of looks like a square toilet in this picture, but it was very impressive to a pair of 6 and 5 year olds. And can I say again how much I love that the packaging is recycleable? (Total tangent: I recently subscribed to this wine delivery service called ClubW and not only do I love all the wines but the packaging the wines arrive in is also recycleable. Every part of it – no bubble wrap, no puffy pillows of plastic air. It's like the silliest bonus feature to me; I love it when everything an item comes in is recycleable. And if you're interested in ClubW, email me and I'll send you a code good for a free bottle if you sign up.)

The Kindle Paperwhite itself is lovely. I've been using the Kindle keyboard for years now, and had resisted the touchscreen for a number of reasons, mainly that I live a very schmutzy life, and my screens get kind of grotty. This screen I love. It has a matte texture and isn't glossy reflective like, say, an iPad or the Fire. It fits nicely in my tiny hands, it doesn't make my wrist hurt, and it's lightweight. 

The paperwhite booting up.

Here's the Paperwhite still in its cellophane wrapper, booting up, serving as a paperweight on top of a pile of backpack mail. (OH MY GOSH THE BACKPACK MAIL. There is so much. I do need a paperweight for all of it. But I won't be using the Kindle.)

After the initial bootup, the Kindle went through an introductory sequence that I expected to find very tedious, but was very useful. I haven't used a touchscreen Kindle at all (except for the first generation Fire) and this intro explained very simply where stuff was that I'd want. 

The Kindle Getting Started Sequence, pointing out all the parts of the touchscreen. Y'all I'm sorry Kindle isn't blind accessible. That blows goats.

(Note: the shiny parts on the edges are caused by the cellophane, which I hadn't taken off yet). 

The font being used for the intro made me feel like Charlie Brown and Snoopy were giving me the introductory tour. It's sort of like Comic Sans/Charles Schultz's font lovechild. 


Text settings, adjusting size and font for the display.


Note that I can't choose that font to read my books in, darn it. I can choose from a few fonts, and type sizes, though. As I've said before, I like to read with my glasses off, so I crank it up to “Great Grandma's Text Size.”


The Book x-ray: common terms, how many chapters, and other internal data about the book.


One feature that's rather neat is the book “x-ray,” which is only available with all x-ray features for books purchased at Amazon. It shows commonly used terms, and gives internal information about the book. I didn't need to know about Gamgee, though. 

For personal documents, the full x-ray features are not available. This is the book I'm reading right now (Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken) and you can see at the bottom the time it thinks it'll take me to read the rest (likely not that long) and how far I've read. The X-ray features are greyed out and not available in the top menu:


I can also enable the Kindle to Tweet and post to Facebook notes and highlights. I haven't set that up – and I don't think I will.

After the kids were in bed and all was silent, I and my laptop and my old Kindle went to the couch to get to work. I had dedicated 2 hours on my schedule to set up the new Kindle just the way I wanted it, and in the end I needed 40 minutes.

Part of the ease of setup is my own organizational system, and the fact that I use Send to Kindle  to manage any new reading material I receive. Because most of my books are either purchased at Amazon (a few) or sent to the Kindle through the “Send to Kindle” app (I'd say 90%), there was an archive of my personal documents, from BPEs (Books Purchased Elsewhere) and ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) to BPAs (Books Purchased at Amazon) and BNMs (Bare Nekkid Manuscripts). 

This is not truly important but if you're looking at pictures of my reader I figure I should explain: I organize my books by the month in which I allow myself to read them. I don't want to read too far in advance because if I get all excited and talk about a book in May and folks can't buy it until August, I feel like a total douche. So I organize by month – you'll see my collections are dated, and everything inside is what I've determined I'm going to read during that month. I had a list of the books filed in collections on my old Kindle, and using the Amazon Kindle management page, I resent my files to the new device. It took me probably 10 minutes to resend the files. Then I created collections and filed them by month. Done.

This is the main screen of the Kindle and the one part that caused me some confusion – though it was momentary. At the top are my collections and underneath are the featured books Amazon would like to tell me about (whatever). At the bottom is the “special offer.” I bought the “special offers” Kindle because it was cheaper, because the ads don't really bother me, and every now and again there's a deal for $3-$5 credit for MP3s or something, which is lovely useful. 


Main screen of Kindle - my collections, and promoted items at the bottom.


But I wasn't sure how to get into my collections or get to the others that are behind the ones on the screen. It's pretty simple, though I must have missed this part of the introduction because I was stabbing at the Kindle Paperwhite with my finger trying to figure it out.

To enter a collection, I tap it.

To see the other collections, I swipe across the ones that are showing on the screen.

To change the name of a collection, I long-press on the collection for a beat or two, and a submenu pops up. And to add a book to a collection, I long-press on the book itself for its submenu, which contains the option to “Add to collection.” Once I figured that out, I didn't need to know anything else. 

The rest of that time I used to change the name of my Paperwhite (this one was “Llyfr Sarah 2″ but is now Llyfrau Sarah, Welsh for “books of Sarah”) (I think), change the email address for the Paperwhite, and explore any other parts of the device I hadn't seen yet, like the single page for all the available special offers: 



The Kindle Special Offers Page


Hey, look – it's Susan Ee's “Angelfall.” That's cool. 

There are some changes I wish I could make. For example: 


Main screen of Kindle - my collections, and promoted items at the bottom.

I'd like to customize the carousel at the bottom of the main screen so that instead of “New & Notable” or “Popular Mysteries & Thrillers,” I could specify which genres I wanted to see (e.g. “Romance and More Romance” “Still More Romance, Please” “All the Romance, Bring It Now”).  

I'd also wish the Kindles were blind accessible. The Kindle itself is not accessible, even if the books have “Text to speech” enabled (most do not). If you close your eyes and try to use a Kindle, the paperwhite or any other model, you can't figure out what you're doing. It doesn't respond audibly or offer cues to the menus. This is a big missed opportunity, in my opinion. But then, this Kindle doesn't have a headphone jack, either, so it's not meant to say anything to anyone. It's mute, the Paperwhite. 

In the end, the time I had blocked off for setting up, I used to pick up the Kindle and read. This is where the device really excels. With the adjustable screen brightness and the touchscreen areas for turning pages forward and back identified in the introduction so clearly, it was very, very easy to pick it up and start reading. One thing that Kindle does well every time is making the process from purchase to reading as simple and easy as possible. There are very few obstacles in the way of the user, and now that the screen has higher contrast between text and background and very crisp edges to the letters, it is a simple thing to pick it up and start reading. 

According to Me & My Kindle, the Paperwhites are showing as sold out, with a 4-6 week delay in shipping orders that are placed today. If you're thinking of buying one to upgrade or to try digital reading, I echo the other reviews online from various tech sources: the Paperwhite is a marvelous device. It's easy to use, it's easy to read on, and it's simple to set up. I give it a B+, due to the lack of accessibility and the lack of more detailed customization of the main screen. That said, I am very, very happy I upgraded. 

If you have questions, fire away! I'll be, um, reading. 

(NB: When I assign a grade in our database, all the other fields appear, too. So I've decided the Kindle's Genre is “Contemporary/Other.” Unless you think it should be “Science Fiction/Fantasy?”) 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I tried to use Calibre to move my books—no luck for Amazon books. I’ve never used Send to Kindle and will try that. Did you have to enter all your books into your collections? (You can import them from your old Kindle under a certain tab in Settings.)

  2. 2

    Ooh… Damn it, you are tempting me to buy one, and I just don’t have the money right now! LOL. Plus, my NOOK, though old, does work fine for me. But sometimes..sometimes I think about getting a Kindle, too. I’m a greedy BookWhore, apparently. LOL.

    Glad to hear that you like it and that it wasnt a waste of money. The one feature I love, and therefore would probably finally push me to buy it,  is the ability to change the font and the screen’s brightness. With my eye problems, sometimes this is an issue on my old NOOK. Hm…decisions, decisions!


  3. 3
    Christina Alexander says:

    Nice, but I still prefer my Nook Touch. :o)

  4. 4
    RBC says:

    Do you have any problem with the cloud being available to your kids?  I want to cut that off of L’s Kindle fire—and don’t see that I can.

  5. 5
    Katie says:

    How does reading with the light on compare to reading on an old-fashioned e-ink Kindle?

    At some point, I fear that the battery on my Kindle will just stop charging and I’ll need to upgrade. My husband has a Kindle Fire, which is great for more multi-media things, but I really love e-ink. (I spend lots of time reading for school on my laptop and my eyes can’t take reading for pleasure on a backlit screen too.) How does the Paperweight…erm, Paperwhite compare to e-ink?

  6. 6
    ridiculousspider says:

    Is Unspoken as amusing as the little snippet in the picture leads me to believe? 

  7. 7
    Lynne Connolly says:

    thanks for a great review!
    But – I was reading this on my tablet, and your images are huuuuuge!
    don’t think I’ll get one, I’ll wait for something that does epub. And I don’t like the absence of physical buttons – my Nook Touch has page turn buttons. But the display looks spiffy!

  8. 8
    Carmen Webster Buxton says:

    I can’t wait for my Paperwhite to arrive! I think Amazon is keeping the Kindle Keyboard around just so they will have an accessible ereader. You can learn the key positions with that model, and manipulate the menus without seeing. As I recall you can even make it read the menu options aloud, not just the books. Touch screens work great IF you can see.  One day, they will probably have a touch screen that does Braille or something like it. That would be totally cool.

  9. 9
    Jeankap says:

    I ordered mine during the press announcement, but won’t see it ‘till October 11! JEALOUS!!!

  10. 10
    Barb Lie says:

    Thanks, Sarah. I expect mine anyday. You have given me a nice headsup what to look for.  :)  I too use the keyboard, and was not tempted to use the touch, at least not until the Paperwhite, and its light.  Thanks


  11. 11
    LG says:

    I know, that’s probably what I’ll be going to once I finally decide to upgrade my Nook 1st Edition. Barring the appearance of some more appealing EPUB-reading device.

  12. 12
    Lenorej says:

    I have been making “Xmas, paperwhite kindle, mumble, mumble” noises around my husband and I think it may work! Can’t wait to read in bed without feeling like a nuisance…Oh, and Sarah, it’ll work well on that overnight Trans-Pac flight to Sydney, too.

  13. 13
    Jessica_HookEm says:

    The_Book_Queen, I’m like you.  I have a Nook 1st edition but I’m really tempted by the new Nook with Glowlight and this new Kindle.  Since I already own over 100 books on my Nook, I’ll probably stick with the new Nook.  There’s nothing wrong with my current one but I really really want the new one.  I keep telling myself, “Your birthday and Christmas are in December.  You CAN wait a few more months.”  So far, I’m holding strong but I’m not sure how much longer my will power will remain.  I read online somewhere that the Paperwhite has a feature somewhere on the screen while you’re reading that will tell you how many pages until the end of the chapter.  That is a feature that I really wish that the Nook had.

  14. 14
    SB Sarah says:

    Yes, you can turn off the connection, but I’m guessing he wants to stream video as well? First, there are also apps that can help you, like this one:


    There is also the Kindle FreeTime settings, which I am not sure will be included in any Kindle Fire v.1 firmware upgrades. There doesn’t seem to be a firm answer on that one yet – see here: http://cnet.co/QYZ5JL

    Depending on what you want to cut off access to, there are certainly apps that can help you.

  15. 15
    SB Sarah says:

    I have a hard time reading on the Kindle Fire, too – the LCD screen makes my eyeballs burn. I have a clip on light for the Kindle keyboard, but even that creates a glare and a reflection on the screen. The light on the Paperweight Paperwhite is perfect, and adjustable in brightness, too. It is eInk. I like reading on the Paperwhite a lot more than reading with the clip light. The eInk is something that I have found very comfortable to read with, and prefer it much MUCH muchly over LCD.

  16. 16
    SB Sarah says:

    YES. It is very witty, especially the heroine, who is delightfully sarcastic and very witty.

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    I have no idea why I got mine before you – I ordered right after the press announcement when the store went live with the new models!

  18. 18
    SB Sarah says:

    I will be loading the Paperweightwhite up with umpty-bozillion books for the flight. No question.

  19. 19
    b303tilly says:

    I used my first generation Nook until the screen froze. I replaced it with the Nook Simple Touch, and I love it. I have an iPad, so any Kindle books I must have(usually free offers unique to Amazon), I read on it. I’m a device lover(not THAT kind. Well, yes, that kind, but not in this context), so I might have to splurge anyway.

  20. 20
    Nita says:

    Jessica_HookEm, my Nook Tablet has that feature: if I tap the center of the page while reading say, chapter 2 of Sylvester, it comes up with many things, one of which is the message “11 pages left in chapter.” Since the touchscreen interface of this menu is very similar to the Simple Touch or Glowlight, they should have that too. Plus, the Glowlight price just dropped to $119!

  21. 21
    3rdlake says:

    I’ve got one on order and it is supposed to arrive on Friday – just as we are getting ready to go away for the weekend.  Did it arrive charged?  Or should I prepare myself to wait to play with it when I get home?

  22. 22
    Zmom Joanne says:

    Thanks Sarah, the paperwhite is on my to-buy list. Even though I’m not crazy about touch screens I love the built in light feature.

    What I hate is that the power adapter is sold separately. Seems a little low-end retailing detail that I don’t expect from Amazon.

  23. 23
    SB Sarah says:

    Mine arrived mostly charged, and was ready to use after booting up and walking me through the funny-font introduction sequence. Have fun!

  24. 24
    SB Sarah says:

    I love the light feature, too. I stayed up WAY too late last night finishing a book because it was so easy to keep reading. My eyes didn’t hurt.

    The power adapter is sold separately, but I found I didn’t miss it. For one thing, I have about six different USB to AC adapter plugs at this point from cell phones and previous Kindles. That said, it does seem like an inexpensive item to sell separately!

  25. 25
    Flo_over says:

    SB Sarah how do children’s books show up on it?  My 2 year old just tossed my old school Kindle across the room and now I can’t see the upper left corner of words.  I can still READ the pages it’s just a guessing game what the first few words are.

    Anyway, I want a new Kindle or tablet.  We’re tossing out the idea of getting the Paperwhite or the Fire but can’t decide.  I love the light so I don’t have to hide in the bathroom to read at night but the Fire can play videos and is in color.  Really I want to start a collection of books I can read to her and want good quality.

  26. 26
    Gregory Gray says:

    There are parental controls that you can use.  In fact, I turned off the store and was able to get a second row of books on my home screen!

  27. 27
    Gregory Gray says:

    Paperwhite is e-ink so it compares very favorably :)  There is a bit more glass between you and the words than with non-touch screen non-lit eink readers but I still think it is very sharp. 

  28. 28
    Gregory Gray says:

    Moving to “evil” mobi was the hardest part for me switching but I love the hardware. 

  29. 29
    Jenny says:

    The Paperwhite IS e-ink, with improved resolution and contrast.

  30. 30
    Jennifer Estep says:

    So is this something you would recommend? I’m thinking about finally getting an e-reader, but there are so many choices out there that it’s a bit overwhelming. I really just want something pretty basic.

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