In a fit of impulsiveness, brought on from living in our wonderful commercial world, a few weeks ago, I purchased a new Kindle after deciding that my Kindle 3 just wasn't up to the job anymore. Just to make it clear, there's nothing wrong with the Kindle 3, but the new one's handle Asian characters (the old one's could only do PDFs), which means now that the Kindle is finally available in Japan, there are a lot more Japanese e-books showing up on the Amazon store. Me being me, I clicked Amazon's 'Buy Now' button without reading the glaring notice saying that the Paperwhites were out of stock and weren't expected to ship until early December. Given that I had already put my old Kindle on Trade Me, this looked like it would become a problem. Fortunately, Amazon got extra stock early and I've had my shiny new Paperwhite for about a week at the time of writing this.What was even better was that I got a great price for my old one, meaning I was essentially able to upgrade for free (I'll save the rant about overpriced electronics in New Zealand for another day).
So, what's the verdict? Well, my primary reason for purchase was to have the opportunity to read Japanese books. Done. Although there's nothing that great on Amazon at the moment, the selection is growing. Plus, you can go into your account and choose from a selection of free dictionaries in various languages, now including Japanese and Chinese, to make the foreign language reading experience easier. For these reasons alone I'm happy with the purchase.
The screen is absolutely beautiful and the ability to adjust the light to suit the environment is a godsend. There is a range of fonts and margin widths, so any speed-readers out there can gulp down chunks of text in a single eye movement. The touch screen is relatively responsive, roughly comparable in speed to the Kindle 3 and using the on-screen keyboard is far more convenient.
But. There is something that I miss about the Kindle 3 - the page turn buttons. Young people will probably sneer at old man Garth and his old-fashioned button pressing ways, but the tactility that the buttons provided was a better interface than the somewhat nebulous screen tap. Nothing wrong with screen taps on a tablet, but the Kindle just doesn't have the same quickness, speed or accuracy about it.
The other problem I have with it is entirely of my own making - the ads. I could have bought the ad-free version, but I honestly didn't anticipate them bothering me as much as they do. They don't inhibit the reading experience in the slightest, only appearing on the bottom of the home screen and when the Kindle is sleeping. However, there's just something about picking up the device and having a Bose speaker system or Lexus shoved into my face that is kind of off-putting; they're like intruders in my personal space. They're bearable for the time being, but I think I'll be paying the extra to get rid of them in the future.
So to sum up, if you want to read some east Asian books, or you found yourself frequently using the old keyboard and equally as frequently wanting to hurl the Kindle through a wall, then the Paperwhite is for you. Even if you just want to nerd out looking at the best e-ink screen yet seen, then you should get the Paperwhite. If, however, you're on the fence and are perfectly happy with your old Kindle or other e-reader, then there's not much reason for an upgrade. Save the money and buy a nice Christmas present for a loved one. Or, don't spend any money and be just as content as you are now - the planet will thank you for it.