Kindle Paperwhite (2018) Review

The eReader to get this Holiday

Kindle Paperwhite (2018) Review 4
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Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

Amazon has once again updated their iconic e-reader, the Kindle Paperwhite. While design-wise, they’ve managed to maintainthe core concept of the Kindle, what has changed makes this year’s Paperwhite amust own for anyone who wants to read on the go without carrying around abackpack full of books.

I have always been a fan of the Kindle look and feel. It is not flashy and compared the latest tablets from Microsoft, Google, or Apple it can seem a little quaint, but there is something iconic with what Amazon has maintained throughout this product’s lifecycle. The more expensive Kindle Oasis veered a bit from this formula, but I am happy to see they are back to form with the Paperwhite 2018.

The small form factor body fits pleasantly in the hands and makes for an easy device to carry on the go or simply to read at home when you have a free moment. It also has a great weight, giving it a feeling of substance without being a burden on your back or arm.

Kindle Paperwhite (2018) Review
Kindle Paperwhite (2018) – Review Images by CGMagazine

Amazon nailed the look and feel as the Kindle brand evolved, and this year’s model keeps this design aesthetic while making it feel like part of the household. It feels right at home on any coffee table, making it more like a staple of a household in today’s world than a gadget that needs to stand out from the crowd—and it serves that purpose perfectly.

Even with the iconic look and feel, it is great to see Amazon improve on this year’s model by adding IPX8 waterproof rating to the list of features. It makes it much easier to recommend to people on the go, taking away that last lingering fear for the safety of the device. You can now feel much more secure bringing it on vacation or a day trip to the beach. While it is still electronic, and thus a bit more prone to damage than a standard paperback, this improvement takes it one step closer to the more durable and versatile device we all crave.

Beyond the small changes, the 2018 KindlePaperwhite feels like a device from a bygone era. The black plastic suits the style of the device, and in the age of USB-C, a single micro-USB slot still sits on the bottom of the unit. It is built for ease of use, and who in today’s world does not have at least a drawer full of spare micro-USB cables lying around for the off chance you need to charge the Kindle in a pinch.

Kindle Paperwhite (2018) Review 1
Kindle Paperwhite (2018) – Review Images by CGMagazine

One way in which the Kindle has improved for2018 is with the screen, as it now sits flush on the front, giving it a much more modern look and feel. The change also manages to help with it feeling indestructible, no longer needing to worry about dust and lint getting trapped between the screen and bezel.

The screen itself has changed little since last year’s Paperwhite. The 300 PPI resolution remains sharp and readable. The text is sharp and easy to read at any size, and it is a true joy to read a book on the device. The e-ink screen manages to do what LCD/OLED technology still lags behind on: being easy on the eyes. While it does lack the tactile nature of paper, it comes pretty close, and that is coming from someone who works in print and loves physical media.

I have to admit, I love the LED lighting used within the Paperwhite. It helps with eye strain, and even if you are in a brightly lit room, the slight illumination helps bring the words to life, especially when indulging in a longer novel or book.

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Kindle Paperwhite (2018) – Review Images by CGMagazine

As Amazon grows, the features on their device lineup seem to grow also, and that is true with this year’s Paperwhite. With Audible being part of the Amazon family of companies, it was only a matter of time before we saw audiobooks make their way to the Kindle line of products. And honestly, it is a welcome addition. There is something freeing in the ability to download the audiobook of a novel I am reading and having them both on the same device.

I don’t feel this aspect is fully thought out yet though. At present, with there being no headphone jack or speaker array on the Kindle Paperwhite, the only way you can listen to your new audio versions are with some form of Bluetooth speaker. Now this is by no means a dealbreaker, and Bluetooth speakers and headphones are almost ubiquitous, but it still in some ways feels like an afterthought, even if it is a welcome one at that.

Beyond that, the Paperwhite feels like most Kindles you have used before. The software has changed little from past iterations, and the areas in which it has changed feel very minor. If you have used a Kindle in the past and are just looking to upgrade, you will feel at home with this year’s iteration.

It would be good to note that while Amazon has done a great job in updating the Kindle over the years, it is still very much a pain to load books that are not from the Amazon store. Since it is a media consumption device firmly rooted in Amazon’s ecosystem, this is not surprising, but with the world of technology moving to more open standards, it is disappointing nonetheless.

Kindle Paperwhite (2018) Review 5
Kindle Paperwhite (2018) – Review Images by CGMagazine

One thing that is not disappointing is the battery life. While it is hard to say if you will achieve the mythical week-long battery Amazon claims, in our testing, we managed a solid 3-5 days with little problems. Reading for around 45 minutes twice a day, you should have no issues lasting most of the work week between charges.

It is also good to see that the Paperwhite can fully charge in around 90 minutes using the micro-USB cable. As is common with the Kindles in recent years, since you only get the USB cable in the box, you will need an extra plug or a spare laptop to charge should you run low while out and about.

When it comes down to it, Amazon has made a great case to jump onto this year’s Kindle Paperwhite. It is an evolution oft he Kindle brand, all while maintaining the iconic look and price. While it may not be as flashy as the Kindle Oasis, it still comes with most of the same features at a much more affordable $139.99 CAD. For anyone looking to buy a new e-reader on a budget, the Kindle Paperwhite 2018 is hard to beat, especially with the new features.

Final Thoughts

Brendan Frye
Brendan Frye

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