Kindle Paperwhite Review : Imported to the UK
First, the Amazing News for UK Importers
Unlike the Kindle Touch when I imported it from the US, the Kindle Paperwhite is 100% ready for the UK. It's like Amazon predicted the number of imports this time and made sure that everything was working beforehand. The shop in Kindle Store menu and icon both direct you straight to Amazon.co.uk and even the experimental browser is set up with UK bookmarks like BBC.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk
I am guessing that when you first register the Kindle to your UK account, it sets up the whole system ready for UK use.
Importing the Kindle Paperwhite was a complete doddle taking only 4 days from dispatch in the states to delivery at my door in the UK. Naturally I ordered the fastest shipping I could, so it took 2 days from Amazon.com to my Bundlebox address in Kentucky and then 2 days from there to the UK. As ever, the Bundlebox service was impeccable and the whole process couldn't have been easier.
Kindle Paperwhite Review
The first impressions from unboxing is that the Paperwhite is the most mature e-ink Kindle product that Amazon have ever released. It's sleek, solid and oozes quality.
One thing that you will notice if you already own a Kindle is that there is no mains charger provided in the box, just a USB cable meaning you can only charge via your computer unless you have a mains charger already. Luckily it's a standard USB charger, so you may already have one for an old Kindle or for your mobile phone or other gadget.
Physically, the Kindle is a just a couple of millimetres bigger than the Kindle Wi-Fi and a couple smaller than the Kindle Touch. If, like me, you are lucky it will squeeze into your current Wi-Fi case although I wouldn't advise going buying a Wi-Fi case without trying it first. It should however slip into a non-moulded Kindle Touch case perfectly.
The Kindle Paperwhite is also noticeably thinner than the Kindle Touch although you'd be hard pressed to notice any significant difference in weight.
At the bottom of the Kindle is a single button and a micro-usb port, exactly the same as the Kindle Wi-Fi although the power button is slightly less recessed. My Kindle was already around 70% charged out of the box.
When you first power on the Paperwhite, unless you are in a very bright room, you will instantly notice the new lighting. It's very subtle but really does make the screen much clearer. The first thing to happen is the Kindle asks you to choose your language, British English of course, and then does an initial reboot while the system fully loads.
Once the Kindle has rebooted, you are presented with a screen asking you to enter your Wi-Fi details which is simple enough to complete. Once the Wi-Fi connection is ready, you are then asked for your Amazon account details. I simply entered the details for my Amazon.co.uk account and the Kindle recognised it and configured itself.
After this initial setup, there is a very nice tutorial introducing you to some of the more interesting features including X-Ray and also how to highlight text and lookup words in the dictionary.
When the tutorial is complete, you are then taken to your Home screen for the first time. When you first encounter the Home screen, you will immediately notice the difference as it defaults to a cover view showing your books as thumbnails, something many have been hoping for. Of course, you can choose to revert back to the list view if you prefer, but the cover seems more than adequate by itself. Another great feature is the ability to search either the device or the archived books in the cloud simply by clicking on the search icon.
The rest of the operation is pretty much standard Kindle fare with the usual settings and options available through the menus.
Naturally, one of the most important aspects with the Paperwhite is the screen. The new screen is a slightly higher pixel density / resolution and this makes the fonts noticeably more crisp on the page than any previous Kindle model.
The front-lighting works remarkably well and Amazon really have done an incredible job with it. The amount of light is fully controllable via a slider from the lighting icon. At its default setting, in normal daylight the light is only noticeable as a slight glow, but the overall effect is to make the screen a very nice, dare I say it, 'Paper White'. One thing that may seem a little odd at first is that you should adjust the light down rather than up if you are in the dark. This is because the darker it is, the stronger the light is and so a daytime setting may be over-bright once the light dims.
There was a tiny amount of variation of the light across the screen, but barely noticable and noting more than you would expect from a front-lighting system.
The Touchy Bit
One of the many criticisms of the Kindle Touch was the actual touch-screen. I don't know if the Paperwhite is technically any different, but in practice, the screen does feel very much more responsive with faster refresh times that make interactivity a pleasure rather than a chore.
Also, if you own a Kindle Touch or have ever used one, you may have noticed the very deep recess of the screen (sometimes known as a crumb-catcher). The Kindle Paperwhite does not have this deep recess which is excellent news and really does make for a much more aesthetically pleasing device.
Reading on the Kindle Paperwhite is just as pleasurable as ever with the sharper fonts and subtle lighting making everything even easier on the eye. Page turns are fast and smooth due to the 'refresh on every page' setting being turned off by default. Thus far I haven't noticed any significant ghosting with this on.
As I'm sure you are aware, I have only had the Kindle Paperwhite for a couple of hours, so I am far from putting it through its paces, so I will report back with any news of consequence.
As can be expected, the experimental browser is present on the new Kindle and thanks to the improved screen, this is the most usable incarnation so far. As I mentioned before, it comes with bookmarks for several UK sites built in and even features a .co.uk button on the Keyboard. Scrolling down a web page is still a bit slower than I would like, but overall, better than on the Kindle Touch. For pure speed however, the Kindle Wi-Fi with its buttons is still hard to beat.
The higher resolution means that sites designed for the older Kindle screen may need to be scaled up a bit. This can be done by pinch-zooming the page as you would a tablet. Again this works much better than on the Kindle Touch.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is not only by far and away the best Kindle Amazon have ever produced, but the best eReader available today. From the physical feel of the device to the software and remarkable lighting the whole package speaks of quality. The Kindle Paperwhite is everything the somewhat disappointing Kindle Touch should have been and more.
The minor downsides are that there is no audio facility which means it cannot be used for audio books or text-to-speech, but I do wonder how much use these ever received. Personally I have never used a Kindle for either of these beyond merely trying them out.
Amazon really have pulled out all the stops here and really delivered something special even down to it working perfectly for UK owners out of the box. It's hard to see what improvements Amazon could make in future generations other than colour e-ink, but I guess that's for their R&D team to surprise us with.
If you are interested in importing a Kindle Paperwhite, you may like to know that it really is very easy to do if you follow my method here: How to order a Kindle Paperwhite and import to the UK
You may be concerned about the actual cost of importing, but from experience, with my Kindle Touch 3G my total cost of importing it was only £20 more than the retail price of the official UK version which released over 6 months after. I can't say that the case will be the same for the Paperwhite because we've no idea how much the UK retail price would be, but I have no reason to doubt that it would be proportionally the same.
Some people have ordered from eBay sellers, but have run into problems as Amazon are limiting orders to 5 per customer meaning that lots of people who made eBay listings are unable to fulfil their obligations.
Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi without advertisements.
I did want to review the 3G model having changed my mind, but did not want to wait the extra time (due to stock levels) it would take in cancelling the Wi-Fi and re-ordering the 3G.
Having had a chance to settle down a bit more and do some real reading, my opinions haven't changed at all from those above. Deciding how I best preferred to have the light set took a little while, but once you know, you know so to speak.
I also took a look at the new indicator which shows how long you have left before finishing the book. It's hard to judge how accurate it may be as I read fairly sporadically, but it's very useful to know.
A Must Have For Freebie Collectors
One feature that I found incredibly useful is to be able to look up the synopsis of a book directly from the menu. I tend to download a lot of free Kindle books and often by the time I get to reading them. Now with this new option, you can just click to see the description (internet access permitting) and remind yourself why you downloaded it. Brilliant!