Kindle Paperwhite (2021) Review
Kindle is a name synonymous with e-readers. For many years now, it has been the de facto choice for those who want a different way of reading - so much so that it's the only device of its kind familiar to most people who love to read.
And in 2021, Amazon upgraded the Kindle family — adding a new Paperwhite to the lineup.
With so many different Kindle devices to choose from, what makes this model exciting? Let's find out more.
The latest Paperwhite is a huge upgrade over previous Amazon models, and it's a great step forward from the entry-level Kindle. It has a beautiful, sharper E Ink screen that's larger than before, making it easy to use in any lighting conditions.
While the new monitor with a warm/cold adjustment feature is undoubtedly the star of the show, USB-C also deserves a mention. They make it even more convenient when it comes to charging the battery - not something you'll need much, thanks to weeks of life per charge.
We like the button controls to make flipping pages a little easier, and it would be nice if the additional program layers loaded faster. However, as it stands, the Paperwhite is still a great portable e-reader that gives you direct access to a nearly unlimited library of digital books. We might even think it closely rivals the flagship Kindle Oasis.
- The device comes with dimensions: 175 x 124 x 7.6 mm / Weight: 204 grams
- With USB-C charging port, and one power button
- There is more than a sense of familiarity with the design of the Paperwhite 2021. Because it is a look that has remained relatively unchanged for years. This squat, rectangular plastic frame with a black and white E Ink screen on the front and very few other things that catch your eye.
- The buttons and ports are scattered, with only one of each: a power/sleep button and a USB-C charging port, both located on the bottom edge of the reader. It has to be said, it's not the most intuitive mode of having a button, and it's very easy to accidentally press it, which either wakes up or locks the device. It would be better if the power button was placed on the side somewhere or on the top - anywhere but the bottom.
- The main thing about Kindle - any of them really - is that there is access to millions of books, but in a device smaller than an actual book. It's easier to hold and carry around easily, and this still applies to the new Paperwhite, despite its slightly larger and heavier frame.
- The device is still much smaller than an iPad or tablet; And it still weighs the same as a smartphone. So it hasn't lost its distinguishing feature, and the larger size brings us nicely to its biggest benefit: the larger screen.
How wide is the device ?
- The device comes with a 6.8 inch E-ink plate, and a resolution of 1246 x 1648
- 17 LED headlight bulbs
- As the Paperwhites, the 2021 model has the largest screen-to-body ratio to date. Amazon didn't just make the screen bigger and kept the old big bezels. It reduced those bezels and increased the screen size, giving us an extra 0.8 inches, an increase from 6 to 6.8 inches on the diagonal.
- This makes a huge difference to the reading experience, giving almost an extra paragraph of text for a single page, which means having to turn pages much less. Or, quite literally, there is less tap and scroll on the touchscreen.
- The increase in size brings the new Paperwhite closer to the size of Amazon's flagship Kindle, the Oasis, which remains slightly larger at 7.0 inches.
- It's still the classic E Ink transflective screen, meaning if you're in a well-lit room, or outside, you don't need lighting to make it clearly legible. It reflects the light around you, making it really visible especially in bright conditions.
- Of course, being a modern Kindle, it's backlit with a front lighting system. You can save battery life by turning off the lights manually, but auto-brightness would be nice, because it can be hard to tell if the lights are on when there's bright light around you.
- Like the more expensive Kindle Oasis, the Paperwhite is a 17-LED array, which enables warmth, too. You can adjust the color temperature to make it as cool and blue or as warm and orange as you like.
- The degree to which you can adjust is very good, so it's not just a case of having a few color temperature options. The brightness is also adjustable, with 25 levels of light. On top of that, you can schedule the warmth to activate at specific times of the day, so you can turn it on automatically at bedtime, if you want.
- If having an orange/warm backlit screen isn't enough for you and you want to cut out a lot of light while reading at night - for fear of disturbing your significant other perhaps - you can simply enable dark mode, which reflects dark and light elements in the screen. Then the text becomes white, and the background is black.
Battery and performance :
- "Up to 10 weeks" per charge (claim)
- 8 GB storage
One thing we noticed with the Paperwhite is that it's more responsive than the previous versions or the standard Kindle. This is thanks to the use of a newer version of the E Ink monitor - Carta 1200 - which provides faster page updates.
But there are other times you can still experience E Ink update lag, such as when loading the Quick Settings layer drop down, or when scrolling through the Amazon Book Store. Likewise, closing a particular book page in the store to return to the rooftop is delivered with little delay as well. A lot of this comes down to how rendering technology works, and updating the pigments to be either black or white isn't good for animation. It's not fast - and we've long felt that the software experience here could be better.
Is the battery good ?
- Battery life has been improved and can now last up to 10 weeks on a single charge, so it needs to be charged relatively infrequently. And when you now have a USB Type-C port to charge it with the same cable you probably use for your smartphone or headphones.
- Charging a phone from 1 to 100 takes about two and a half hours using an optional 9W charger. There's only a cable in the box, not a wall plug - but we suspect most will use existing chargers, or else it would take five hours to charge connected to a computer or a low-power USB port.
- The overall battery performance will depend on how often you refresh this screen (because it takes so little power when setting the page), but it will also depend on how bright the lighting is and whether you do other things, like using its Wi-Fi connection to get For more information. Needless to say, it will last weeks regardless - maybe not just the full 10 weeks for all users.
Ecosystem and Software :
- The Kindle's biggest strength, as it has been for years, is that Amazon's library of books is by far the biggest with plenty of massive e-books out there. Virtually any book that's available as hardcover or paperback is also available in Kindle form, and you can buy it on Amazon - the same place you're likely to actually shop anyway.
- Furthermore, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you get access to read some books for free with Prime Reading, and if you subscribe to the paid Kindle Unlimited service, you get free access to a huge library of books. However, if you want the bestseller or the most popular, you still often have to pay individually for each title.
- While Kindle supports other file formats — you can email documents to your Kindle — it's not compatible with disk services, like Overdrive, widely used by public libraries, and supported by devices like the Kobo.
- The Kindle's user interface isn't the most intuitive thing in the world either, but there's not much in the way of layers, so it's fairly easy to use. And thanks to the recent software update, it's at least better than it was.
- The home screen has two tabs - one for the standard home screen and one for accessing your library - and between them are an image of the book you're reading. Tap on that and the book will open right where you left off. basic.
- Once you start reading, you have a plethora of options available to you. You can change the font size, style, and spacing to make it comfortable to read as per your need. One such font available is the Open Dyslexia font, which is designed to help make reading easier for those with dyslexia. You can also adjust the line weight to make it thicker. Even items like margin size, page orientation, and text alignment can be changed as well.
- Other features include popular highlights where you see a dotted line under sentences that other readers have selected, or you can highlight them yourself or take notes.
- Tap and hold a word and you'll get the dictionary definition, or enable the WordWise feature that automatically highlights difficult words that you can then add to your vocabulary or even translate. What's more, if you're in a bind and don't have another device that you need to find something online quickly, there's also a beta web browser built in.
- However, when these extra layers are activated, slow processing - compared to modern tablets and smartphones - shows its face. Here the Kindle still needs a little more oomph to make it feel less lethargic. We also feel that Kindle can better manage the books you've read. If you know you've read some books by an author, but can't remember any, they can often be hard to find—especially when using Prime Reading.
- There's also support for Bluetooth headphones and Audible books, allowing you to listen to those audiobooks - but you'll have to pay more for that.