Shortly after we reviewed Amazon’s Paperwhite Kindle ebook reader the firm upgraded its entry-level model to include what most people would consider to be the Paperwhite’s killer feature – a lit screen.
While it’s lower specced than its big brother, this addition means many shoppers – including existing Kindle users looking for an upgrade and those thinking of trying out ebooks for the first time – now have little reason to buy the more expensive Paperwhite.
The 2019 Kindle features a 6” E-ink greyscale screen, 4GB of storage (sufficient to hold a couple of thousand books), can connect to Amazon’s ebook store and Audible Audioboook service via WiFi, and comes in a choice of black or white.
The device is incredibly comfortable to hold, even for long periods, thanks to a weight of just 174g. Like all e-book readers it uses very little power meaning the battery can last days or even weeks on a single charge.
Shoppers looking to save a few pounds can buy the £69.99 ‘with special offers’ version which includes adverts on the lockscreen (but never in your books), while those wanting to avoid marketing messages can pay an extra £10 for a version without the ads.
2019 Kindle v Kindle Paperwhite
As the 2019 Kindle offers all of the same content and most of the same software features* as its big brother we’ll direct you to our Paperwhite review for a run down on those and focus here on the differences between the two devices and whether they should matter to you.
(*Since we looked at the Paperwhite, Amazon has added the ability to mark books as ‘read’ and use filters to show only read or unread books. This debuted on the new device and is being rolled out to all recent Kindle models and will be welcomed by those with large libraries or who only want to see what’s next on their reading list.)
As mentioned above, the headline feature here is the addition of a front light which can be adjusted by the user to match the lighting conditions of their surroundings.
Despite having just 4 LEDs compared to the Paperwhite’s 5, I found the Kindle’s lighting to be consistent across the whole screen and more than ample to ensure the text was visible in all conditions, although the light is less white than on the Paperwhite.
Maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising given that offering a whiter, more paper-like experience is one of the Paperwhite’s main selling points and a big part of what makes it a premium product.
The Kindle also lacks the ability to invert the screen to show white text on a dark background, something which may be a trade-off too far for some potential buyers.
One big difference between the models – on paper at least – is the screen resolution. The new Kindle’s display offers a resolution of 167 pixels per inch, scarcely more than half the Paperwhite’s 300 PPI.
This sounds like it should matter, but actually doesn’t unless you’re planning to read a lot of graphic novels where the higher PPI count will undoubtably produce better looking images (albeit in greyscale).
But, if you’re just planning to read novels, there’s not a lot of difference in the way the two devices render fonts.
Unlike the Kindle Paperwhite and Amazon’s flagship Oasis model, the 2019 Kindle isn’t waterproof so if you plan to read in the bath or while lounging in the pool, this model probably isn’t for you.
But if that’s not a consideration, and you’re willing to make a couple of trade-offs, then you can still get a great reading experience while saving yourself £50.
Both of the more expensive Kindles achieve their waterproof rating by featuring a flush, tablet-like screen which also gives them a more premium look and feel. While the entry-level model’s recessed screen is more basic, it has the benefit of reducing the potential for accidental page turns caused by stray fingers.
As a regular Kindle Paperwhite user I expected the new Kindle to feel like a major downgrade but was actually surprised by how good a reading experience it delivers.
Inevitably given the cost differences there are some trade-offs involved, but Amazon have managed to pack the best aspects of its premium devices into a well built, budget-friendly option.
The Kindle Paperwhite can be bought direct from Amazon.co.uk* and from selected online and highstreet retailers.