Paperwhite Care PackageLet me start by saying that Amazon is a class act. When they offered to send me a new Kindle Paperwhite 3 to review, I was expecting a box with a Paperwhite. Instead I got a care package which included the reader, an Amazon leather case, a water bottle, sunglasses and a beach towel. Seems like they were trying to suggest the Paperwhite is good for beach reading?

However, don’t think that I’m blinded by bling. While, in the main, I like the new device and do believe it is a worthy successor to last year’s Paperwhite, I do have some issues with it, which I will discuss.

Let’s start with the basics. When I took it out of the box, I was surprised by the weight. I’m accustomed to a WiFi-only device, and Amazon sent a 3G device, which is a first for me. Looking at the specs, (7.2 oz vs. 7.6 oz). I’m surprised that I noticed it, but did I ever. I’m not saying that’s a problem. I like the weight, but I know that some people want/need as light a device as possible, so if you’re thinking about splurging for the 3G model, be prepared to feel it in your hands as well as in your wallet.

All dimensions are exactly the same as the PW2, so all your accessories will work. No need to buy new ones. There are subtle differences in appearance (Kindle and Amazon logos are more prominent on the PW2), but there’s nothing that will tell that person on the bus beside you that you are sporting the latest and greatest.

Page turns and other operations are smooth, although I don’t notice significant differences from the PW2. However, page turns are much smoother and faster than the Kobo Glo HD, which is the closest competitor. I am planning a more complete shopping comparison between the two, so I won’t go into too many details in this post. Look for the comparison post tomorrow.

Now what you’ve been waiting for. The screen resolution. Honestly, I’m disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice. It’s even very nice. But I’m not seeing the difference between the 2 and the 3 that I was expecting. My eye is sensitive to resolution differences, so much so that I had to sell my Nexus 7 (2012) after I bought a Nook HD because the difference was so noticable to me. When reading a book on the PW3, though, I barely see the better resolution.

PW3 on the left. Better, yes, but subtle.
PW3 on the left.

Where I do see it is when viewing covers and menu items. Covers are definitely sharper on the PW3. Menu items are so sharp they pop. But how much time do you spend looking at covers and menu items? I’m assuming you are there to read, and I don’t find the PW3 any more readable than the 2.

What about the new typography? Keep in mind that typography isn’t particularly important to me. I prefer full justify to ragged right, and hyphenation isn’t a big deal for me. I’m tolerent of the occasional big gaps of white space. Once I’m reading, I barely notice the black marks on the page (or white if I’m using night mode on my Fire).

That said, if you like typography, you will probably like the changes Amazon has made. Here are some comparison screen shots of basically the same point in Revivial by Stephen King, one of the books which has the new typography. (PW3 on the left again.)

screenshot_2015_06_22T13_20_01-0400 screenshot_2015_06_25T09_28_53-0400

As you can see, that line in the middle of the page looks much better on the PW3. That’s a lot of white space on the 2. Ironically, at the next font size up, the differences became less noticeable.

screenshot_2015_06_25T09_34_19-0400 screenshot_2015_06_25T09_34_03-0400

I’m going to say that if typography is important to you, you’ll like the change. If like me, it’s no big deal, it won’t bother you one way or the other.

If you like typography, here’s the part you’re not going to like. The new typography is only available on a subset of books. It’s darned difficult to know in advance which books have it and which don’t. (Sampling will be your friend here.) And if you like to sideload books? Sorry. Even using Send to Kindle doesn’t magically add the new features. I hope they change that soon.

Update: Either I was blind or Amazon added a field to Kindle books. They now show you which books have the Enhanced Typesetting. It’s in the same area as number of real pages and Series. Nice!

What about the Bookerly font? I didn’t like it much on my Fire or the iPad app, but once I tried it on the PW3, I’ve decided I do like it, and I’m using it now on my Fire as well. Again, I’m not too sensitive to fonts, as long as they have serifs. (However, I never like Droid San Serif, but I could never figure out why.) Here’s what I will say about Bookerly. It’s a nice, readable font, but it’s also a relatively heavy font, and it doesn’t particularly highlight the new resolution. Georgia, if it were available, would do it better.

My conclusions? As I said above, it’s a worthy successor to the PW2, and it’s an excellent competitor to the Kobo Glo HD. Is it worth upgrading from the PW2 to the PW3? Probably not, if you are just looking for a functional ereader. If you must have the latest and greatest, then yes, upgrade.

Switch from the Voyage? I don’t see any reason to do so. If you like the features of the Voyage, you’ll probably lose something you like in the switch.

Upgrading from an older Kindle or eInk reader from another company? Definitely worth it, unless you rely on page turn buttons. If that’s the case, you’ll probably be happier with the Voyage.

You might also want to take a look at Len Edgerly’s excellent video comparing the PW2, PW3 and Voyage. That should give you more information about whether an upgrade is right for you.

Do you have any questions I haven’t answered yet? Anything you want me to test and report on? Feel free to ask in the comments. I love excuses to put devices through their paces.


  1. One of my pet annoyances with the Nook ST is the inability to delete side loaded content from the reader. I assume the new PW3 is like all other kindles and lets you do that? I like being able to email books to kindle devices. Does the PW3 separate out emailed content like the fire phone does, or does it include it in the same list as purchased content like the Kindle app does?



  2. @Greg, good question. The only difference on the PW3 between purchased and sideloaded is a “Personal” badge along the bottom of the cover on sideloaded content from Send to Kindle. If you sideload with Calibre, there’s no distinction at all. All content is in the same list and can be added/deleted from Collections.

    Yes, you can delete. If you used Send to Kindle, it removes it from the device and leaves it on the Cloud (assuming you chose to archive to the Cloud). If you used Calibre, you just Delete from Device.

    Easy and seamless. Much better than the Nook approach.

    Does that answer it?

  3. @Nate, since Monday. It’s ironic that they offered it to me the day after you, Will and I had that Twitter conversation about the PW3 vs the Glo HD. I think Will will approve of my Glo HD vs PW post tomorrow. 🙂

  4. Both Apple, with their iPads, and Amazon, with their epaper Kindles, disappoint me. There’s so much that they could be doing but aren’t.

    I still congratulate myself for paying $100 more to get an iPad 3 with a Retina screen rather than an iPad 2. Since then I’ve seen little reason to upgrade. The new connector is fine, but not worth $400 or so. What Apple could add, GPS in the non-cellular models and full USB connectivity, they’re not doing. That maybe why iPad sales are languishing.

    With my Kindle 3, my arguments against buying are even more pervasive. Get new models and I’d lose text-to-speech, which I like. The greater dpi doesn’t matter. I’m not reading 6-point text, so I’ve never thought a greater screen dpi mattered. A backlit screen also matters not. Anywhere I read, I’ve got a desk lamp. In fact, I’ve got low-wattage red LED lamps, which makes sleeping come easier than glaring down at a Paperwhite screen telling my brain it’s high noon.

    I’m also ticked off at the features Amazon could add but doesn’t. The last time I checked, the Broadcom chip that epaper Kindles use for WiFi will also do Bluetooth. Why not let us type notes on a real Bluetooth keyboard and turn pages with the buttons on an inexpensive Bluetooth mouse? The latter would be great for those with mobility issues. It’d cost just pennies.


    Unfortunately, with both iPads and Kindles, Apple and Amazon are giving the public little reason to upgrade. There’s none of the steady drive to enhance and improve that we see with smartphones, particularly the iPhone.

    As for typography, I’m not an proponent of the status quo, which is that Amazon decides on the font for all books, or for giving users a limited set of also-Amazon-chosen fonts. We’re long past the point where ebooks should have what all print books have, which is a font chosen by the publisher, book designer, or individual author. Yes, sometimes that can be dreadful. But it’s also an opportunity to chose just the right typeface for a particular tale. Somber tales need somber fonts. Light comedies need a happy fonts.

    Giving every book a Bookerly font is like a mom never offering her kids anything but chocolate ice cream for desert. Even kids who like chocolate ice cream get tired of the sameness.

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