Kindle Paperwhite 3G

And finally, it’s here. As I hinted last month, the new Kindle Paperwhite was something I couldn’t resist. I placed my order pretty much immediately, and sure enough, it was despatched on the release date. But after that, it got a bit lost. The tracking information showed that it had reached the courier’s central depot (or “sortation facility” as they apparently like to call it) and then apparently vanished through a crack in space time or something like that.

I reported its non-arrival to Amazon a day after it should have arrived. They asked me to wait for a week after it was despatched before chasing it up, to allow for random delays. I left it until Monday, what with me being away and all that. So, I contacted them again, and got a rapid response, apologising for it going missing and saying they were sending a replacement as soon as possible.

The despatch thingy suggested it should arrive by Thursday, so quite naturally it arrived yesterday. Good response from Amazon there.

So what’s it actually like? Well, in short, very nice indeed. Physically, it’s a wee bit smaller than the Touch, and loses the physical home button. The improved eInk display does look clearer – I think the contrast between the text and the much lighter background that makes more of a difference than the increased resolution. And the light does exactly what it’s supposed to – you can now read in the dark! It’s also useful to be able to adjust the light level to suit your surroundings.

The user interface has had a major overhaul, too. Rather than lists of titles, you now get pictures of the covers of your books, which I like. Depending on how many books you have, picking a cover may or may not be easier than looking for a title, but I think it adds a certain something or other. Getting my books onto the new device was nicely easy. Rather than having to look for “Archived items”, there’s now a link on the homescreen labelled “Cloud”. Everything you buy from Amazon will live there, as will any books or documents you’ve emailed to your Kindle or uploaded with the free Amazon tool. Tap on a book and it’ll be downloaded to your Kindle. Keep tapping until you’ve got them all..

If, like me, you like to organise your books into collections, you’ll like the ability to copy your collections from your previous Kindle – you need to have downloaded the books first, as all the collection import does is associate books on the device with the relevant collections. It did save a fair amount of time, though.

There was a certain amount of weeping and wailing on the Amazon forums about the, err, helpful feature which had Amazon suggestions at the bottom of the homescreen. There is now a software update (v5.3.0) which you can get from the support site, which apart from various other things, allows you to turn off the suggestions. Which I did. Another feature you get with 5.3 is the newly announced Read for Free in Waterstones. Basically, if you have a Paperwhite, you can read selected books for up to an hour a day in your local Waterstones bookshop. I’m not sure I’d be likely to do that very much, personally…

Anyway, quick summary – nice kit. I bought it the leather case, which unlike the one that caused odd problems with my first Kindle, doesn’t make electrical contact, so shouldn’t be a problem. It holds the device firmly and the front cover uses a magnetic clasp. In a similar manner to iPad cases, opening the cover turns the Kindle on and closing it turns it off, so you don’t have to fiddle with the tiny power switch on the bottom. Usefully, the case allows full access to the micro USB charging port. Talking of which, you don’t get a plugin charger with new Kindles, just the USB lead, so allow for a charger plug if you’re travelling without a computer.

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