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Amazon Announces New Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon has announced an updated version of the Kindle Paperwhite, the company’s touchscreen, backlit ebook reader that debuted in 2012, with a number of enhancements and new features for parents and serious readers. The new Kindle Paperwhite costs $119 (or $139 without ads) and will ship on 30 September 2013. You can preorder it now.

First, the obvious upgrades. The new Paperwhite retains the 6-inch screen of the previous model but features a new display technology with higher contrast. Additionally, the processor is 25 percent faster for peppier book opening and page turning, and the touch grid is 19 percent tighter, for better response to touches. Also, the built-in light has been improved to reduce eyestrain.

As welcome as those updates are, they pale in comparison to the new software features. Foremost among them is Kindle Page Flip, which lets you skim through a book without losing your place. To complement Page Flip are inline footnotes, which display footnote text in a pop-up, again without losing your place. While Amazon suggests that you could use Page Flip to refer back to the map of Beyond the Wall in George R.R. Martin’s “A Dance With Dragons,” I suspect these two features will be particularly appreciated by students and academics.

Two other new features are aimed at parents and children: Kindle FreeTime and Vocabulary Builder. FreeTime expands the concept of parental controls beyond limiting what your kids can read to actually encouraging them to read. Parents will be able to select books for their children, and FreeTime will provide a report on what the kids have read, as well as award badges when they hit milestones. Vocabulary Builder compiles words looked up in the dictionary into a single list, and will build flashcards for interactive quizzes.

Speaking of the dictionary, another useful feature is Smart Lookup, which adds information from Kindle X-Ray and Wikipedia to the dictionary definition. The example Amazon gives is the term “credit default swaps” in Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short.” Older Kindles would merely define the individual terms, but the new Paperwhite will recognize it as an important phrase, and give a more thorough explanation.

Finally, the Kindle Paperwhite gets social, featuring integration with Amazon’s recently acquired Goodreads social network. You’ll be able to see what your friends are reading, share excerpts, and rate books on Goodreads.

Also new for all Kindle users is the new Kindle MatchBook service, which is reminiscent of iTunes Match for books. MatchBook gives you the opportunity to obtain free or discounted Kindle copies of eligible physical books that you’ve purchased from Amazon. For brief details, check out “Amazon Announces Kindle MatchBook,” 3 September 2013.

Overall, the new Kindle Paperwhite looks to be the best standalone ebook reader yet, with thoughtful improvements for students and parents. It’s the first Kindle I’ve seen that could provide solid educational benefits over conventional books. While Apple’s iPad is a wonderfully versatile device, this new Kindle Paperwhite offers a focused ebook reader that beats the iPad handily (for this particular purpose!) on price, size, weight, and lack of distraction. While I’m sure many of these new features will eventually make their way to the Kindle iOS app, I can’t wait to try out the new Kindle Paperwhite.


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Comments about Amazon Announces New Kindle Paperwhite
(Comments are closed.)

Nick Beadman  2013-09-03 15:43
Had a previous generation Paperwhite but sent it back because of the lack of physical page turn buttons. Unfortunately, the buttons have not been reinstated with this revision which suggests that they never will be.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2013-09-10 04:40
I don't miss the page turn buttons - perhaps because I never owned a Kindle that had them. I have little trouble turning the page on my Paperwhite, though a better touch matrix will no doubt make this work even better.
The Page Flip feature sounds like a winner.

I bought my Paperwhite on faith, without having seen one. I was not disappointed. It creates significantly less eye strain for me than LED devices like the iPad - not to mention a computer monitor. The Paperwhite was, for me at least, a welcome innovation. If the new model is substantially better, I'm sure I'll be tempted to get one. But I'll check it out at Best Buy first.
Akos Szilvasi  2013-09-04 16:55
The illuminated and touch screen are great but both of my Kindles stopped synchronizing while my iPad and iPhone does it well. I am not interested until the screen is evenly lit, more pleasant in color and the WHISPERSYNC WORK.
My 97-year old father's declining eyesight made paperbacks a real challenge as he'd try to hold them open with one hand while he was holding a magnifying glass in the other. So I bought him a Kindle as the screen contrast and font size options work well for him. However, like other computer universal access adaptations I've seen, the older Kindle didn't adjust menu font or icon size. That made a magnifying glass necessary for getting started or selecting a book, almost negating the advantages of the text size options. Also, the increments of text size could have offered a few more point sizes. The largest size results in just a few words per Kindle page, with the first size below that almost too small by comparison. So I wonder if the new Kindle has taken any of the concerns into their software/settings options?
edinburghmac  2013-09-11 02:17
I considered getting the current KIndle Paperwhite for my wife on her birthday this year as she loved the Kindle with keyboard I'd bought her a couple of years ago. However, when I went into a store and actually looked at the Paperwhite I couldn't believe they were selling it with such uneven background Illumination. I didn't see it as enough of an upgrade from her current Kindle so bought her the cheapest iPad mini (£49 upfront cost and £20/month 5GB data plan for 2 years). She loves her new iPad mini so much it goes everywhere with her and she never touches the Kindle. Interestingly though, she told me she's not reading her KIndle books as often as she now spends more time surfing the web on her commute.

Since the doj eBook ruling I'm now going out of my way to avoid using Amazon products, as Amazon are the real monopolists/price fixers in eBook publishing. (also the case for Google/Samsung products for the Android iPhone rip off - I'd rather spend my money with Apple).