Amazon Boosts Kindle Paperwhite Display, Keeps $119 Price

Kindle Paperwhite 2015
Amazon freshens up its Kindle Paperwhite reader by improving its screen with a sharper display while keeping the same $119 price tag. Amazon
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Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

At least that’s what Amazon decided to do with its Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, which just got the gadget equivalent of major facial reconstruction for its screen with the release of its latest iteration while still managing to keep its price the same at $119. Wait, does that actually make it a new dog with old tricks?

Regardless, the result shakes up Amazon’s E-Ink reader lineup as the change suddenly brings the Paperwhite display literally up to par with the more expensive Kindle Voyage.

Prior to the change, a sharper display was a key differentiator between the Paperwhite and the Voyage, with the latter costing an additional $80. The old Paperwhite, for example, came with a built-in light like the Voyage but only sported a resolution of 212 pixels per inch (“ppi” for lazy typers). It’s not bad, for sure, but it also isn’t as sharp as the Voyage’s more robust and Spartan-friendly 300 pixels per inch. (Get it? Spartan-friendly? ‘Cause it's 300 and, uh, never mind.)

With the new Paperwhite that Amazon unveiled on June 17, 2015, however, the device is now graced with the same 300ppi resolution, making it a more attractive option. Like the Voyage, for example, it also comes with a touchscreen, backlighting, Wi-Fi and optional 3G. Granted, the Voyage still comes with extra features such as PagePress, which uses haptic feedback to let users turn pages with the reader’s bezel. The Voyage also comes with an adaptive light sensor that automatically changes brightness depending on lighting conditions.

Whether such features are worth $199 vs.$119, however, is now a pretty valid question for consumers mulling both options. It certainly makes you wonder whether Amazon has some refresh plans for the Voyage as well to make it an even more compelling option at its higher price point. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, here are some key facts about the new 2015 Kindle Paperwhite.

New font: Are you a font geek? Then you’ll appreciate the addition of the new Bookerly font to the new Paperwhite. Designed specifically for digital displays, Amazon claims that Bookerly offers great readability while minimizing eye strain in comparison to more traditional fonts. Add the flexibility provided by the new higher-resolution display and you have a font that scales up or down quite well for more persnickety readers.

Improved layout: Although E-Ink readers typically do a much better job at emulating a printed book than, say, tablets like the iPad, Nexus 9, Surface 2 or even Amazon’s own Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, character spacing can still look odd at times. The new Paperwhite tries to make the reading experience even more book-like with the addition of improved typesetting features. These include better spacing between lines, kerning between letters (i.e. no more weird joined letters that stick together) and more natural-looking dropcaps.

Sharper screen: The most noticeable change of all, the new display adds crisper text to the Paperwhite’s non-glare screen and brings it in line with Amazon’s top-of-the-line E-Ink screen.

TALE OF THE TAPE

  • Price: $119
  • Screen size: 6 inches
  • Dimensions: 6.7 inches long, 4.6 inches wide and 0.36 inches thin
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces for Wi-Fi; 6.6 ounces for Wi-Fi+3G
  • Display: 300 points per inch
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Supported formats: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion
  • Battery life: Charges in 4 hours; approximately 21 hours with wireless off and light setting at 10

Jason Hidalgo is About.com's Portable Electronics Expert and is a closet Japanese cookbook lover. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter @jasonhidalgo