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CNET First Look
New Kindle Paperwhite gets zippier, better built-in lightAmazon's next-generation e-reader may look the same as the original, but it's noticeably improved.
Hi. I'm David Carnoy here with the 2nd-generation Kindle Paperwhite. I don't know if the analogy is completely appropriate, but I look at this as kind of the iPhone 5S of e-readers. It looks nearly identical to the original Paperwhite but is better and zippier. For starters this is the first shipping product to feature E Ink's Pearl 2 display which offers slightly better contrast. Instead of the 800-megahertz processor found in the original Paperwhite you get a 1-gigahertz processor and there's a next-generation built-in light and a more responsive touchscreen display that is a 19-percent tighter touch grid. It's also a hair lighter weighing in at 7.3 ounces instead of 7.5 ounces. The most immediate difference you notice between the new Paperwhite and the original is that the display looks whiter as opposed to having a little bit of a blue tinge and the lighting is more uniform. Also the light is brighter at its highest setting. On the original Paperwhite there's a bit of murkiness, a sort of clouding effect at the bottom of the display when using the light particularly at night. The light now display is much more evenly across the screen. It's a definite improvement. Amazon says the contrast has been increased, but it's hard to tell that the blacks are that much blacker even if they are. Still the screen is more pleasant to look at particularly when the light is on and looks more like a page from a printed book. It's also worth mentioning that the new display requires less refreshing to eliminate the artifacts or ghosting that's inherent to E Ink screens. The previous model refreshed about every 6 page turns. In my test this model seems to refresh about every 13 to 14 page turns. As for battery life it remains the same at up to 2 months with Wi-Fi off despite the bump in processor speed. It comes with the same 2 gigabytes of integrated storage, 1.25 gigabytes of which is available for the user. The rest of the changes involve feature upgrades that Amazon has or will add through software updates. These include a Smart Lookup feature that streamlines the Dictionary, X-ray, and Wikipedia lookup interface with a single, easy-to-access set of tabs and Vocabulary Builder which keeps track of all the words you look up in the dictionary and allows you to create flashcards to help you learn those words. Goodreads integration and Kindle Page Flip a sort of picture-in-picture page scanning feature are coming soon as this Amazon's kid-centric Kindle Free Time feature which adds parental controls. I also compare this model to Kobo's Aura which is a nicely designed e-reader, but the screen and lighting are better on the Kindle. It's not a huge difference but is definitely noticeable and the Paperwhite costs less starting at $119 for the Wi-Fi only model that serves up ads. Amazon calls them special offers on your home screen. This may seem like an unspectacular upgrade on the surface, but it clearly improves on the previous Kindle Paperwhite. Basically Amazon has taken a very good product and made it about 20 to 25 percent better, and while it would've liked to have seen Amazon's engineers cut the size and weight down by about 25 percent, kind of like the Kobo Aura, it's still the best e-reader currently available. I'm David Carnoy. Thanks for watching.