Author Topic: Kindle Paperwhite 2 review  (Read 17178 times)  

Offline FearIndex

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Kindle Paperwhite 2 review
« on: October 19, 2013, 04:06:10 am »
Following my PW1 review, here goes - Kindle Paperwhite 2 (2013) aka PW2 vs. Kindle Paperwhite (2012) aka PW1:

The box:

PW2 comes in a similar black box as PW1, there are a little differences in the font sizes and logo layout, e.g. the Kindle Paperwhite logo on the side is on a single line in PW2, on two lines in PW1 (both boxes call the product just the Kindle Paperwhite though, no number 2 is officially used in the sequel), but nothing major. The USB cable also is now black (with a slightly reshaped connector), instead of white, but of similar quality to my eye.

The looks:

Externally the PW1 and PW2 are almost indistinguishable from the front, except for small cosmetic differences in the Kindle logo. PW2 has a little bolder Kindle logo. On the back the difference is clear, PW1 has a Kindle logo embossed on the soft plastic rear, PW2 has a glossy Amazon logo in the same place, although rest of the rear looks like the same soft plastic. I think PW1's rear logo is more subdued and nicer, but for most users this of course is insignificant as they use case or don't look at the back anyway. If you tend to fondle the middle of your PW's back though, the PW2 will feel different in the hard/glossy logo area, where as PW1 simply has a recessed logo there.

My PW2 is slightly skinnier than PW1, as the former has lost a little weight and the latter is also 3G, always a little heavier than Wi-Fi. The PW2 Wi-Fi weights 208 grams under my measurement, PW1 3G is 220 grams, so 12 grams difference. (On paper the difference should be 206 g vs. 222 g aka 16 g difference, roughly 9 g for 3G and 7 g generational weight loss.) Even though small, this is not an insignificant loss of weight as the minute I picked up the PW2 it did feel a little lighter.

I tested, the PW2 fits very nicely into my 2012 official Amazon Kindle Paperwhite leather cover and the cover's on/off functionality works as before.

Before we proceed, note the following obvious screen defects on my PW2:

- Crooked screen, top left is higher than top right but also top right is not quite glued onto the frame making it sort of caving in a little (crooked in different direction than on my PW1 which also has a slightly crooked screen, PW2 is unfortunately worse than PW1)
- Two specks: one light-shining pin-hole quite center in the bottom quarter, a grey speck in the the top quarter (checking my PW1, I recall it might have had one speck too, but looking at it now it has nothing as obvious as the two on PW2), the specks don't come of with cleaning

Both of these issues are quality control issues that seem fairly common on front-lighted e-ink readers, probably to do with the difficulty of mastering so many layers of screen materials perfectly, but are also easily considered as defects by most people. I may consider a replacement, but it is a bit of a gamble whether or not that is an improvement. Anyway, in the following review I will not consider these points further as they may go away in a replacement.

The screen:

PW1 on the left, PW2 on the right - with lights at maximum and lights at minimum (neither light is ever fully off):



Bigger picture: http://imageshack.us/a/img580/7025/rpuo.jpg

The most interesting comparison between PW1 and PW2 is, of course, the screen. As can be seen from the pictures, the PW2 certainly can blast a much brighter picture. PW2, obviously, also has a much more yellow color to it, both lights up and even lights down, where as PW1 is more traditional e-ink grey. It is hard to say if either has blacker text, in the photographs PW2 does seem to have blacker text, but in side to side comparisons with plain eye they seem to deal some even blows. I think the PW2 text is blacker though and/or its background lighter (but yellower). Either way, both are clearly inferior to the text blackness of my 2012 $69 Kindle, which is inky black.

As for the evenness of the lighting, PW2 is an improvement. The LED shadows on the bottom have been greatly diminshed on the PW2, so far that I don't consider them any kind of issue anymore. There is a lot of light bleed on all the borders, though. The borders are much brighter than the middle of the page. For example the grey top bar in the menus looks quite blotchy due to unevenly bright light hitting it. The middle of the page is in a shadow and could be considered somewhat splotchy, but is probably an improvement over PW1 still - if you like the more yellow color, that is.

The photographs, taken in daylight, even out quite a bit due to ambient lighting. As with PW1, to me, the front-light is much easier to accept if you read in lighted situations than in absolute darkness. Reading in darkness and on lower light levels than full blast, the unevenness of the middle of the PW2 screen does show a lot more. Unfortunately the unevenness is not just bright borders and a less bright middle, the middle is also uneven, so that the margins of the page and the bottom quarter are more brighter than an oddly shaped area in the middle of the top three quarters. There may also be some orange/green splotching going on, looking carefully.

In conclusion, PW2 does have a more even light than PW1, especially the LEDs on the bottom are "hidden" better. However, the lighting isn't completely uniform - something problematic especially for picky eyed readers, who prefer to read in the dark. In daylight, adjusting the light just so or even turning it off, none of these unevenness issues show. It is in the dark when the issues arise. Of course, the less than stellar contrast and text blackness can be an issue no matter the light level.

The software:

PW1 may eventually get, in an update, many of the PW2 features and I won't try to cover them all here, but there are some nice improvements in the software. On the home page, Cloud now displays all your books, not just those not on the device. In the Settings under Reading Options a Vocabulary Builder toggle has been added. If this is enabled, the home screen now also shows a book entry for Vocabulary Builder that has recorded your dictionary searches when reading - you can then view definitions and even quizzing flash cards of them and remove them once you have mastered the words.

When reading, the first thing you notice is that View & Notes has been moved to a button on the top bar - also bookmarks are now added by clicking the top right corner (which brings out a virtual bookmark image), instead of through the menu. Reading Progress has a new fourth option: Page in book. Select that and supporting books show the current real page number on the top left corner instead of Location in book, Time left in chapter or Time left in book. You can also still toggle all these by clicking the bottom left corner. If you use the Time left feature, it will show in the bottom left corner: "1 min left in chapter" instead "Time left in chapter: 1 m", which is a nice little improvement. Bottom right corner still shows the progress percentage only.

The greatest improvement, to me, is the navigation of books. First, in Go To, you can find a tab called Notes that allows fast-forwarding to various private and public notes within the book. The big thing, though, is Page Flip - something you can bring up by swiping from the bottom when reading. Page Flip allows you to browse the book, page by page, chapter by chapter or by dragging a bar and preview the page in a small window. Then you can either choose to go to that page by clicking it - or return to the page you were reading by clicking outside the window or clicking its close button. Finally, footnotes now open smartly into a window instead of taking you to a different part of the book, which is a really useful improvement.

All the software improvements work as well as you'd expect and a somewhat snappier processor in PW2 does make progress just a little bit smoother. They say touch is also improved, but since I haven't had any issues with either, it is hard to confirm. Touch works fine on both, for me. The limiting factor, speed-wise, is still the e-ink screen, and I wouldn't call the PW2 experience smooth - but its software works well for an e-ink reader and looks nice. I think software is by far the PW2's strong suit, it is a really a nice piece of software. Only thing I miss is an option to display the basic Kindle progress bar in books - that one is still missing.

The verdict:

I may exchange the unit due to the faults on the screen, especially the crookedness and the dark (dust?) speck are bothersome. The light-leaking pin-hole is so small that I could live with that. That said, I'm not sure PW2 still is for me anymore than PW1 is. The light isn't completely even and reading online reports I don't expect it ever will be - some units are better, some are worse, but I doubt the front-light technology is there yet for completely even results this year. And even if the light was even, it still makes the text look a little milky and the contrast to dark surroundings rather high when reading in the dark. A regular e-ink reader with an integrated light, or perhaps even a PW2 with a clip-on light, do seem like a better solution for me still.

Anyway, I'll give the PW2 some time to see how I like it and whether or not I will exchange the unit. I do like the software it runs, it would be nice to be able to enjoy that. Maybe an another go with that clip-on light idea? Then again, the poorer text blackness is still an issue there. Maybe I'll just go back reading books on my excellent $69 Kindle with the official lighted cover...

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    Offline FearIndex

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    Re: Kindle Paperwhite 2 review
    « Reply #2 on: November 20, 2013, 08:26:37 pm »
    If you use the Time left feature, it will show in the bottom left corner: "1 min left in chapter" instead "Time left in chapter: 1 m", which is a nice little improvement.

    Correction: This isn't necessarily a PW1 to PW2 change, it may be just a difference between US and UK English language modes. UK English mode on my PW2 shows "Time left in chapter: 1 m".

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