New Kindle Paperwhite
September 4, 2013

Amazon’s New Kindle Paperwhite Offers A Few New Perks

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Amazon is now taking pre-orders for their latest e-reader, the updated Kindle Paperwhite. This lightweight cousin of the original Kindle e-readers boasts a backlit, high-definition, touch-enabled display with a few improvements over last year’s model.

Like many other popular electronic devices, the new Paperwhite is more of an improved iteration on a theme than a brand new product with all new features. Amazon says the new processor is 25-percent faster and the improved E-Ink Pearl 2 display has a 19-percent tighter touch grid, all in a lighter package.

Yet even these small improvements on a popular device appear welcome by those who have given early reviews. Amazon is keeping with their $119 price point for the new Paperwhite - $139 for the ad-free version - and will begin shipping pre-orders on September 30. The rest of the Kindle family is still available at

The newest Paperwhite (also available in a 3G model) carries over the same six-inch size from the previous year’s model, but the new technology packed inside is said to produce clearer whites and darker blacks.

The built-in back light lets users read even in the middle of the night and, when paired with E-Ink technology, sips power at a modest rate. Amazon claims one charge can power the thing for a full eight weeks if a person reads for half an hour each day with the wireless antennas turned off and the screen brightness set to 10. The backlight can be turned off, of course, leaving the Paperwhite to be read just like the Kindle’s of old.

The Paperwhite is only available in one 2GB option. Some 1.25GB of that is available for books and other content, enough to hold an estimated 1,100 ebooks. The updated Kindle software and other packaged features permanently take up the first .75 GB of space, of course. Amazon says they plan to release a special version of the Paperwhite for Japanese customers available in a 4 GB offering.

Page Flip is one of those built-in pieces of software. This feature places a scroll bar at the bottom of the screen and lets users “thumb” through their book to find passages from earlier in the book or look ahead to what’s to come.

Tapping a word on the touch display will bring up the dictionary definition of the word as well as tabs for Wikipedia and X-Ray, Kindle's information mining program. This feature, introduced last year, lets readers uncover even more details about the book. Users can use X-Ray to see where else in the book a certain character pops up again, for instance.

The new Kindle software also includes Vocabulary Builder, a feature which stores all the words a reader looks up in the dictionary. These words can then be studied later to improve the reader’s vocabulary - a feature that may be particularly helpful for students who are studying for exams.

Amazon also says they’ll add more features to future updates, including Goodreads compatibility, a sort of social network for readers. Goodreads lets users share what they’re reading with friends, keep a running tab of what they’d like to read next, and even host book clubs. Amazon picked up Goodreads earlier this year and says it will add this feature in the coming months.

Though the new Paperwhite offers a few evolutionary improvements over last year’s model, early reviewers seem pleased with the device. The Paperwhite’s strongest selling point, however, is it’s $119 price tag. At this price point, even those who are mostly on the fence about the device may be persuaded to jump.