When we reviewed the original Kindle Paperwhite, were impressed with the reading experience. As with any E Ink screen, the Paperwhite is easy to read in bright sunlight. However, the addition of a backlight meant that you could also read it in the dark without needing a clumsy clip-on light.
The 2013 Paperwhite looks exactly the same as the original with the same soft-feel black plastic back that makes it so comfortable to hold. The only external change is the logo on the back: Kindle has been switched for Amazon.
Kindle Paperwhite 2013 review: screen
The main changes are the improved backlight, which Amazon says reduces eyestrain. Put the new Paperwhite next to the old and the difference is easy to see (although not in photos!). The new backlight is much more even and (at the max. setting) even brighter.
You’ll rarely need the backlight at more than 50 percent, though, and if you stick to around 40 percent (and read for half an hour per day) the battery should last for two months, just like the original Paperwhite.
Above, the new version is on the right - the eagle-eyed will spot the large bottom bar which you can tap to access the new Page Flip feature (see below).
Kindle Paperwhite 2013 review: speed
That’s impressive since the processor has also been upgraded. Pages turns are marginally quicker but where you’ll really notice the extra speed is when browsing the Kindle store or using the Paperwhite’s menus.
The new Kindle is literally seconds quicker at displaying listings and menus, making it a less frustrating experience. Of course, if you’re used to a tablet, an E Ink screen can still be painfully slow.
Amazon says there’s new touch technology that’s ‘19% tighter’, allowing the new Paperwhite to respond more accurately to light touches.
It’s hard to tell the difference, though. Entering your email address and password, or using the keyboard to search feels no different on either device – both are surprisingly responsive.
Kindle Paperwhite 2013 review: features
As you’d expect, the new Kindle gets the latest software update which brings some new features. Our favourite is Page Flip which brings up a slightly smaller page on top of the one you’re reading. You can then use the slider at the bottom to jump around in the book without losing your place.
You can also see a list of words you’ve looked up in the dictionary in the new Vocabulary Builder, and see the words in context using ‘flashcards’.
Existing Kindle owners will recognise X-Ray where you can see all the sections in a book which mention places, people, characters and ideas. For example, if you tap and hold on a prominent character’s name, X-Ray will give you short bio explaining who they are and other background information.
If X-Ray isn’t available (it's only in certain books), you can still get a dictionary definition or view the Wikipedia entry.
If you have the Kindle app installed on other devices such as your smartphone, tablet or PC, the Whispersync function means you can jump to the last page you read regardless of which one you choose to use. Bookmarks and annotations are also synched.
Kindle Paperwhite 2013 review: file support
As with all Kindles, you’re locked into Amazon’s world. If you want to buy content (as well as books there are newspapers and magazines) you buy it from the Kindle store.
It’s far from a bad thing: Amazon usually has the best selection and prices, but there’s always a chance that the obscure book you’re looking for won’t be there.
We still like the fact that you can email files to your Kindle email address. This means you can read PDFs, Word documents and a few other common files on your Paperwhite without much hassle.
Kindle Paperwhite 2013 review: bottom line
The new Kindle Paperwhite offers subtle improvements to the original – not enough to warrant upgrading, mind you.
Plus, if you want to watch videos, browse the web and email as well as reading books, you might be better off spending an extra £10 and buying the Tesco Hudl.
However, if you want the best reading experience, a dedicated ereader is still the way to go.
The Paperwhite’s price remains the same as ever at £109, so it’s hardly a cheap option when rivals such as the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight cost just £49. The 3G version (which allows you to purchase and download books from just about anywhere in the world) costs £169.
The selection of books available on the Nook store is pretty much as good as on Amazon’s and most big-name titles are price matched, so those on a budget could save money by buying the GlowLight.
However, the Paperwhite’s better, higher-resolution screen and slick interface make it a better ereader overall.