Let 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.
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.)
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.
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.