Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Ships
October 1, 2012

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite Begins Shipping Today

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

One of the world´s toughest-to-pronounce gadgets has begun shipping to American households today after being announced during a September 6th press event. The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is the result of a marriage between the famous and highly regarded e-ink display and an often-strenuous backlit display. Together, this screen is said to offer the best of both worlds: Easy-to-read, crisp text, either day or night, while using relatively low amounts of power.

"Kindle Paperwhite is the most advanced e-reader ever created and the Kindle we always wanted to build," said Amazon´s Kindle vice president Jay Marine, in a statement.

"Pre-orders have far exceeded our expectations and we're excited to start shipping Kindle Paperwhite to customers today."

Pre-orders for the new Paperwhite began on September 6th, shortly after Jeff Bezos´s California presentation.

These new Kindles are the follow-up to a long-line of popular and well-reviewed Kindle e-readers. With the addition of the Paperwhite, Amazon now offers 3 different versions of Kindle e-readers, including the now 2-year old Kindle with Keyboard and last year´s Kindle Touch, now called simply “Kindle.”

According to Amazon, the Paperwhite display offers 25% better contrast and can deliver even blacker blacks and brighter whites. One of the Kindle´s main selling points has always been its screen. With e-ink technology and a matte screen, the Kindle has always been likened to reading actual text on paper. Existing Kindle screens are also incredibly easy to read in direct sunlight, an issue other tablets often struggle with. The new Paperwhite display supplements this proven display, adding an even backlight behind the screen to allow for easy reading during any low-light situation. Thanks to the power-sipping e-ink technology, Amazon claims the Paperwhite is capable of lasting 8 weeks on a single charge. While still impressive, Amazon claims they arrived at their 8 week estimation by assuming users would read for 30 minutes a day with Wi-Fi turned off and the front light on and set to level 10. In other words, the Paperwhite can last for up to 28 hours on a single charge with wireless turned off.

Some of Amazon´s software has been tweaked as well, displaying how much time remains in the current chapter. This lets readers know if they have the time to finish the chapter before heading off to their next appointment.

Often a favorite among consumers and tech reviewers alike, initial reviews for this new e-reader seem mostly positive.

Cory Gunther of Slashgear wrote of the Paperwhite: “Overall what´s not to like here? You get an improved experience across the board with a better, crisper, clearer display, the option to read in any lighting situation, and all of this for only $119.”

Brian Heater of Engadget takes time to mention how much more evenly the Paperwhite screen is lit comported to Barnes and Noble´s Nook. In the end, however, Heater says the Nook is more comfortable to hold in the hand. “It's simply not as pleasant to hold as the Nook Simple Touches -- it ultimately sacrifices comfort for some aesthetic niceties,” says Heater.

Roberto Baldwin with Wired calls the Paperwhite screen “nearly perfect” in his review. He offers another comparison to the Nook Simple Touch, saying: “The Paperwhite is also light and easy to hold. It has less heft than the Nook Simple Touch. But, unlike the Nook, the Paperwhite has no buttons beyond the sleep button. Everything is done on screen. That can be a problem when you are just getting a feel for the interface. Getting the settings to appear, for example, took a few frustrating moments of tapping, swiping and selecting before we were able to figure things out.”

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite with Wi-Fi starts at $119 with “Special Offers,” Amazon´s friendly way of displaying ads as a screen saver for the device. It costs $20 extra to buy the Paperwhite without these ads. A Paperwhite with 3G for downloading books and content outside of Wi-Fi networks starts at $179 with ads and $199 without.

Now, if only they could come up with a better name...