Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2013) hands-on: Brighter, whiter, smarter

Amazon has announced a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite, its eBook reader that offers an illuminated display. We were big fans of the original 2012 version, but can Amazon go one better in 2013? Yes, it can.

The new Kindle Paperwhite has the same exterior design as the previous version, so there's little to comment on there. It's a great light weight at 206g and it has a nice tactile feel to it. With a 6-inch display, the 169 x 117 x 9.1mm Paperwhite is a great size for reading, whether you're in bed, on the train or at the beach.

Put the old Kindle and the new Kindle side by side and you'll spot that there is a difference. That's right, the new Paperwhite has an enhanced display. The difference is subtle, because the old Paperwhite is very good, but the new model is brighter (if you want it to be), with improved contrast, meaning whiter whites and blacker blacks. In the picture below the new model is on the left.

The resolution is the same as previously, with a 212ppi display and 16 shades of grey scale. The result is that the display is just a little bit nicer to read on. We wouldn't say the difference is drastic enough for you to rush out and buy the new Paperwhite to replace the old, but it's certainly worth waiting until this model becomes available in the UK on 9 October or 30 September for those in the US.

But it's not only the display that Amazon has improved on the new Paperwhite. There's also  a 25 per cent faster processor on board. That means page turns are fractionally faster, although, again, we wouldn't say there's a huge difference when it comes to actually reading a book.

However, there are a number of new features where that additional power becomes evident. Press and hold a word and you'll get access to a definition. There's nothing new there, but the new Paperwhite is much faster at returning the result. You're not facing a lengthy pause any more. You can also compile a "vocabulary builder" word list. This will let you monitor those words you've looked up and access flashcards for definitions, which will be a useful way of learning new meanings. Once you've mastered those words, you can dismiss them.

That Smart Lookup tool offers more than previously too, so you can dive between definitions, X-Ray and Wikipedia details in a flash. These new pop-up features don't stop here either: footnotes are neatly handled and there's a new scan feature that will let you effectively flick through the book without it losing track of where you've read to.

The great thing, however, is that the new Paperwhite is the same price as before: at £109 (Wi-Fi) it's still one of the most compelling reading devices around. It you want the 3G version, it will cost you £169. In the US it's $119 for Wi-Fi, $189 for 3G, pre-orders are open on both sides of the Atlantic for the Wi-Fi model now.

We will bring you a full review of the new Kindle Paperwhite closer to release.



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