THE influx of budget tablets that act as jacks of all trades has had numerous implications for stalwarts of consumer technology, not least the humble e-reader. With e-book capability now ubiquitous and the screen quality of tablets improving all the time, it seems that dedicated devices have their work cut out in appealing to everyday consumers.
Gadget review: Kindle Paperwhite
The Amazon Paperwhite, thankfully, is far and away the best e-reader ever made. Yes, some might regard its appearance as utilitarian and scoff at its modest range of features. But ask it to display text in a sharp and presentable manner, regardless of the lighting or weather conditions, and it performs flawlessly time and again.
At a time when so many devices are obsessed with offering as a wide a variety of applications as possible, the Paperwhite is an example of how to do one thing not just well, but superbly. It boasts a purity in both concept and design that make it anindispensable option for holidaymakers looking for a choice of beach reads this summer.
The sixth iteration of the online retailer’s flagship reading device, the Paperwhite is an exercise in refining existing technology as opposed to revolutionising it. On the page, the specifications are humble to the point of the being underwhelming. Turn it on, however, and load up a novel, the benefits of the much-trumpeted Carta e-paper technology are immediately evident.
The innovation is designed to present whites in their purest form while heralding a 50% improvement in the screen’s contrast ratio. In practice, these promises ring true; the text on the Paperwhite is crisp and vivid, maintaining its clarity and focus no matter the angle you position the device. Crucially, external light sources have no effect on the matte screen, either. Even on a bright and sunny spring afternoon in Glasgow - a rarity, granted - the view remains unimpeded by glare.
Cosmetically, the Paperwhite is constructed largely out of plastics, which gives it a light overall weight of just 206 grams. The build quality is solid and unspectacular yet the rounded edges mean it is easy to grasp in one hand and change pages, even for extended periods. The batter life, too, is impressive. Amazon’s claim of an eight week lifespan may be ambitious (based on half an hour reading a day at the lowest illumination level) but a full charge will easily last a week.
The limitations of the Paperwhite are perhaps unsurprising. Its in-built web browser - tested over a range of WiFi networks - has gratingly slow load times and struggles when presented with a page containing an assortment of media. The internal storage, meanwhile, will impose long-term limitations over your ability to store the likes of PDF or Word documents on the Paperwhite, with just 2GB available (although Amazon point out there is increased capacity of the Cloud function, accessible with a WiFi connection).
Out of the box, however, the Paperwhite is able to store upwards of 1,000 books, likely to be ample room for even the most voracious bookworm, a demographic will be best served by Amazon’s new device. If you are planning on a beach holiday this summer, or even just lolling around the garden with a good read, the Paperwhite is the best e-reader money can buy.