Kindle Paperwhite First Impressions

I know I’m extremely late to the Kindle party, but I finally made it.

On Prime Day last week, I saw that Amazon was selling the Paperwhite for $80 and decided I would grab one. I’ve had it for about a week now, but haven’t had much time with it due to other things going on at home recently. I took it with me on BART yesterday on a trip across the bay to visit family, and so far I am very impressed by the device. It’s pretty great.

The book I’m reading is John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, which chronicles the rise and fall of Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. I’d seen nothing but rave reviews for the book, so I figured it would be a good first book. As I write this, I’m three chapters in and loving it so far.

Here are some assorted thoughts on the Paperwhite thus far.

Size & Weight. The Paperwhite is much smaller and lighter than I expected, but I like it. It’s easy to hold and throw into my backpack. I got the black model, which is nice looking and well made, but the bezels make it look old. I have no insight into Amazon’s industrial design process, but I would love a Paperwhite with no bezels at all, kind of like how Apple got rid of the “forehead and chin” of the iPhone X.

The E-ink Display. The Paperwhite’s screen is great—text is sharp and easy to see at maximum brightness. As someone with low vision, I was curious to see how my eyes would acclimate to a different screen technology. In my brief time with my Paperwhite, I’ve had no issues with glare or eye fatigue.

The User Interface. I’ve found the Paperwhite’s touchscreen to be surprisingly responsive; I haven’t noticed any significant lag when tapping. The controls are thoughtfully laid out too. I like Amazon’s font choices and the slider for adjusting screen brightness and text size. As for page-turning, I don’t mind tapping the screen to go back and forth. I like the feeling of touching the screen and it does something; it’s natural.

Accessibility. Amazon has a slew of accessibility features for its products, including a screen reader, magnifier, text options, and more. For the Paperwhite, their VoiceView screen reader is supported, as are text options like font size and line spacing. If I discover more functionality, I will report back.

Overall, I’m enjoying the Paperwhite very much. I now see why Kindles are so popular. The Paperwhite is, in Alton Brown parlance, a unitasker—but the one thing it does, it excels at. There is a serenity about the device that is appealing; I don’t feel distracted or tempted to reach for my iPhone. I can focus on the reading experience in a way that’s more difficult on my iPad. Different devices for different things, but still. I’m happy I decided to finally take the plunge into Kindleland.