Amazon's new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader gets sharper 'HD' screen

The third-generation Paperwhite now sports the Kindle Voyage's high-resolution display, but otherwise looks and costs the same as the previous model.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
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David Carnoy
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The new Paperwhite has the same 'HD' display as the step-up Voyage. Amazon

Same e-reader, better screen.

That's the quick take on Amazon's new 2015 , which adopts the same high-resolution e-ink display of the top-of-the-line Kindle Voyage but otherwise maintains the same design, built-in front light, and starting price tag as the previous model: $119, £109 or AU$179 for the Wi-Fi version. It's available now for pre-order around the world and will start shipping on June 30.

Like the Voyage, the new Paperwhite uses a 6-inch Carta E Ink HD touchscreen display, with a pixel density of 300 pixels per inch. Amazon says that's "2x the pixels as the previous generation Kindle Paperwhite."

The added resolution doesn't make a huge difference, but images and text appear a bit crisper, particularly with smaller font sizes. Amazon is also touting the addition of Bookerly, "an exclusive font designed from the ground up for reading on digital screens" and a new typesetting engine that "lays out words just as the author intended."

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The new Paperwhite starts shipping June 30. Everett Bouwer/Amazon

In the short look I got at the new Paperwhite, the overall layout and presentation of e-books did seem improved. The resolution upgrade is noticeable, but it's not enough of a difference to make you want to ditch your second-generaton Paperwhite, which has an updated lighting engine. (The original Paperwhite came out in September 2012 while the second-gen launched in September 2013.)

According to Amazon, battery life hasn't changed in the new model -- it offers "weeks" of operation on a single charge. You get the same 1GHz processor, 4GB of built-in memory, and a bump up to 512MB of RAM from 256MB. There's no expansion slot for additional memory, but that 4GB allows you to store thousands of e-books.

Watch this: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015) gets sharper 'HD' screen

Like previous Paperwhite e-readers, we expect this model will come in higher-priced 3G and ad-free versions (the $119 model serves up "special offers"). In Australia, the 3G model is priced at AU$249.

In all, it's an interesting move for Amazon. Yes, the Kindle Voyage is a little lighter and features a flush glass front and dedicated page-turn buttons. But those advantages don't seem worth the additional $80 premium.

We'll see if the Voyage gets any price change, but for now it doesn't appear it will. We'll have a full review of the new Paperwhite in the coming weeks.