Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Kindle Paperwhite Works


Kindle Paperwhite Specs

Kindle Paperwhite measures 6.7 inches (169 millimeters) high by 4.6 inches (117 millimeters) wide. It is a scant 0.36 inches thick (9.16 millimeters for the WiFi-only model and 9.27 millimeters for the 3G). The WiFi-only version weighs just 7.5 ounces (213 grams) and the 3G weighs 7.8 ounces (221 grams) due to additional internal hardware.

The WiFi-only Paperwhite can connect to an 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11n WiFi network and supports WEP, WPA, WPA2 or WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) security. The 3G can connect via either WiFi or a cellular 3G network, and is compatible with cellular networks in dozens of countries all over the planet. Unlike most 3G devices, you do not have to pay a monthly fee for the service. It's provided free of additional charge by Amazon.

On the aesthetic front, the color of the shell has been changed from a dark gray to black, and the screen from gray to a more stark white. The shell is plastic, and the back is rubberized to prevent slipping. The screen is 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) diagonally, like other Kindles.

The Paperwhite has a two-point, multi-touch capacitive touch screen. The home button on the front has been removed, so now the only two ways to interact with the device are the touch screen and a power button at the bottom of the device next to the power indicator LED (light emitting diode). To turn on the device and wake it up, you press the power button and then swipe the screen.

Also at the bottom of the device is a micro-USB port for connecting the device to a computer or other USB adapter for charging. You can move content to the device by connecting to your computer, but content for all current Kindles is automatically stored via Amazon's cloud service and can be downloaded at any time wirelessly for free. The Kindle Paperwhite comes with a USB 2.0 micro-B cable. The wall power charger that came with some previous Kindles is now available as an optional purchase, and does not ship with the device.

The Paperwhite's storage capacity is technically 2 GB, but only 1.25 GB is available for downloaded content. There is no way to expand memory on the device, but with Amazon's free cloud storage, you can delete and re-download your content at will, provided you are connected to a WiFi or 3G network. Amazon estimates that you can store around 1,100 books on the device.

As with all previous Kindles, Paperwhite uses E Ink technology, which employs microscopic black and white particles to draw text and images onto the screen. The particles are contained within tiny spheres, with an array of electrodes underneath. The black particles are negatively charged and the white particles are positively charged. When a negative charge is applied under a sphere, it repels the black particles to the surface, making that area appear black on the screen. A positive charge repels the white particles, effectively erasing the "ink" and making that area appear blank. These spheres and electrodes can also be used to draw 16-level grayscale images. In conjunction with a matte screen surface, E Ink makes for very smooth and readable text that resembles that of a book more closely than the text on a computer screen.

The Paperwhite has a display resolution of 768 by 1024 pixels, with 212 pixels per inch (PPI). Paperwhite also incorporates a new LED front-lit screen. The device's lithium polymer battery has estimated life of up to eight weeks, assuming you keep the light at brightness level 10 (out of 24), only use it for 30 minutes a day and turn wireless off when you're not actively using it. Other usage patterns can drain the battery faster, but a Kindle can run much longer on one charge than the typical phone, tablet or laptop, even with heavy use.

Speaking of the lit screen, read on to find out more about this improvement to the Kindle e-reader.


More to Explore