A week with: The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite - the best way to read Fifty Shades of Grey in a darkened room
The market's best e-reader just keeps on getting better, though it's Amazon's infrastructure that really deals the killer blow to would-be rivals
Price: from £109
Capacity: 1,100 books Weight 206 grams
Screen: 6" 1024 x 758 Carter e-ink display
Battery life: 8 weeks Size 169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm
What is it? Lighter than a paperback, yet stores a small library's worth of e-books in its innards. The Kindle Paperwhite 2013 update is a crash-course reminder of why e-book sales now account for almost half of the total fiction market in the UK, and why Amazon's Kindle is leading the field.
How does it work? By doing one task exceptionally well: reading books. The Kindle Paperwhite uses a special black-and-white e-ink display that's more akin to looking at the printed page than staring at a tablet screen, resulting in good screen clarity even in bright daylight. And this updated model refines the impressive technology of the 2012 Paperwhite still further, with crisper, blacker text, faster page turns and a whiter display. It is easy to hold one-handed and simple to navigate.
So what can I do with it? Borrow books via the Amazon Prime lending scheme, or browse through Amazon's 2 million titles, sampling before you buy. You can also use it for accessing newspaper subscriptions and it even has a built-in web browser – although its slow, full-screen refreshes and 16-level grey scale (rather than full colour) make this is an area best left to a bona fide tablet.
Does it work? For reading Fifty Shades of Grey on the sly, an e-reader is essential; for reading Fifty Shades of Grey in the dark, the new Paperwhite works even better, thanks to its 25 per cent brighter and more evenly spread guide light. Amazon says that despite the extra illumination, you can still expect more than eight weeks' worth of battery life, too. The new model also has a nifty annotation trick up its sleeve called vocabulary builder, that lets you compile flashcards of tricky words.
Any drawbacks? Anyone more accustomed to using a tablet might be surprised to see the slow update of the screen when you turn a page. There's still the annoying flash of black refresh between some page flips, too, though with the latest model this is now relegated to just once a chapter, rather than every six pages. It's also still too easy to accidentally annotate text while reading, and occasional wrist movements can turn the page accidentally.
Anything out there now that's similar? The brand new Kobo Aura HD, from arch-rival Canadian eBook maker Kobo (available over here from WHSmiths). In some ways it's an even better e-reader, at 32g lighter, 1.9 cm shorter and several millimetres slimmer, though it also costs £30 more. But Amazon’s killer blow doesn’t lie with its hardware, rather, its impressive books ecosystem: critic and user reviews in its store sit intuitively alongside book recommendations, and the soon-to-be-added Goodreads social-media component (think Facebook for book fiends). None of which the Kobo store has right now.
is it worth buying? The Paperwhite offers a light, pocketable device and the best overall e-reading experience on the market.
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