How the Kindle Paperwhite Works

Reviews of the Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite display
The Paperwhite has generally been well-reviewed and Amazon’s library of content is impressive, but it doesn’t ship with a charger and you’ll have to pay to opt out of ads.
Image courtesy of, Inc.

As of first quarter 2013, the Paperwhite has been well received and compared favorably to its competitors, including other Kindles. There have been some complaints about a slight unevenness of the light at the very bottom of the screen (the location of the LEDs), but that complaint also occurs for the other front-lit devices. Kindle usually gets high marks for having a slightly more uniform light distribution than the others. The capacitive touch screen and excellent resolution also put it a smidge above the crowd.

The increase in the prominence of ads is one disadvantage of the Kindle Paperwhite, but one that doesn't apply if you've paid the extra $20 opt-out fee. The fact that you have to pay extra for a wall charger (whereas it came with the device before) is also a point of contention. Perhaps this was to reduce cost, or perhaps the wall charger wasn't thought necessary due to the device's long battery life, but if you travel a lot, you may want to invest in the wall adapter.


The Kindle arguably wins on sheer numbers of available books and periodicals. Aside from millions of books and periodicals for purchase, Kindle also has nearly 300,000 books available for lending to Amazon Prime members. As of early 2013, an Amazon Prime account is $79, and aside from book borrowing, it entitles you to free two-day shipping on many physical items and free streaming of lots of movies and TV shows.

You can also upload PDFs and certain other file formats to your device by e-mailing them to a special personal address that you can find in your Kindle settings. Those documents also end up in the cloud, where you can read them via a Web browser.

There are many viable choices if you want to be able to read e-books away from your computer. You can narrow the choice down a bit by deciding whether you want a dedicated e-reader or a more multipurpose device on which you can also play games and surf the net with ease. Whether you are okay with black and white or would rather have color, whether or not you require audio, how often you want to have to charge the device and your budget are also deciding factors. Once you know your parameters, you can check out the various devices and see which appeals to you most. In the dedicated e-reader arena, Paperwhite is definitely a contender.

Author's Note: How the Kindle Paperwhite Works

I wanted an e-reader ever since I read about the concept in a couple of sci-fi books: namely Arthur C. Clark's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and Ben Bova's "Cyberbooks." Like a lot of technological innovations, the idea popped up in lots of speculative fiction before the things actually existed. It just took the combination of small but powerful hardware components, the Internet and wireless capabilities to emerge.

I don't yet have a Paperwhite, but I love, love, love my little Kindle five-button device. It's light, easily portable and comfortable in my hands. The E Ink screen is really lovely. And with the optional case, it feels more like a book than my phone or tablet possibly could. For the record, the case nearly doubled the price of the Kindle.

I am also one of those people who finds backlit tablet reading rough on the eyes and a bit headache inducing, despite what the studies say. Although I do watch videos nonstop on my tablet without ill effects, so maybe it's all in my head.

The major upside to having an e-reader is that I'm reading more than I used to. The downside is that I'm impulse-spending all my future earnings on e-books. But hey, at least it's educational. Well, depending upon what I choose to read. "See Spot run. Run, Spot, run...."

Related Articles


  • Amazon. "Kindle." (March 25, 2013)
  • Amazon. "Kindle Keyboard 3G." (March 25, 2013)
  • Amazon. "Kindle Paperwhite." (March 18, 2013)
  • Amazon. "Kindle Paperwhite 3G." (March 18, 2013)
  • Amazon. "Kindle Paperwhite User's Guide." (March 20, 2013)
  • Amazon. "Kindle User's Guide." (March 21, 2013)
  • Barnes & Noble. "Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight." (March 19, 2013)
  • Carnoy, David. "Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight." CNET. April 23, 2012. (March 21, 2013)
  • Carnoy, David. "Kindle Paperwhite Shines." CNET. Sept. 30, 2012. (March 21, 2013)
  • Carnoy, David. "Kobo Glo review: A Worthy Kindle Alternative." CNET. Nov. 21, 2012. (March 21, 2013)
  • Carnoy, David. "LCD vs. E-ink: The Eyestrain Debate." Oct. 29, 2010. (March 19, 2013)
  • Chen, Brian X. "Better E-Reading in the Dark." New York Times. December 26, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • Carnoy, David. "Sony Reader PRS-T2 Review: Not Quite a Kindle Killer." CNET. Oct. 29, 2012. (March 21, 2013)
  • Choney, Suzanne. "Kindle 'Paperwhite' E-reader Has Higher Resolution, Built-in Front Light." NBC News. Sept. 8, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • Consumer Reports. "E-book Readers." December 2012, Volume 77, Issue 12, Pages 30-31. (March 19, 2013)
  • CNET. "Amazon Kindle Touch specs (3G, Wi-Fi)." (March 25, 2013)
  • Dillet, Romain. "Gift Guide: Kindle Paperwhite." Tech Crunch. Dec. 9, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • D'Orazio, Dante. "Kindle Paperwhite Diagramed in Full Detail." The Verge. Dec. 27, 2013. (March 17, 2013)
  • Henry, Alan. "Turn Off the Computer or Turn on the Lights to Avoid Late-Night Depression." Life Hacker. Aug. 14, 2012. (March 24, 2013)
  • Gordon, Whitson. "Is E-Ink Really Better for My Eyes than My iPad?" Life Hacker. Aug. 15, 2012. (March 24, 2013)
  • Hoffelder, Nate. "Study: E-Ink is NOT Better for Your Eyes Than LCDs." The Digital Reader. Oct. 2, 2012. (March 19, 2013)
  • Hruska, Joel. "Amazon Sheds New Light on Kindle Paperwhite Display." Extreme Tech. Oct. 1, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • Jones, David L. "EEVblog #370 - Kindle Paperwhite Teardown Review." EEVBlog. Oct. 15, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • Kobo. "Kobo Glo." (March 25, 2013)
  • Lendino, Jamie. "Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G." PC Magazine. Oct. 1, 2012. (March 18, 2013),2817,2410156,00.asp
  • Lendino, Jamie. "Kobo Glo." PC Magazine. Nov. 15, 2012. (March 25, 2013),2817,2411821,00.asp
  • Lendino, Jamie. "Sony Reader PRS-T2." PC Magazine. Sept. 18, 2012. (March 25, 2013),2817,2409787,00.asp
  • O'Connell, Frank. "Light Reading: How the Kindle Paperwhite Works." New York Times. Dec. 26, 2013. (March 18, 2013)
  • Perenson, Melissa J. "Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight Review: An E-Reader That Truly Lets You Read Anywhere." PC World. July 2012, Volume 30, Issue 7, Pages 44-45. (March 19, 2013)
  • Pollicino, Joe. "Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite Gets Torn-down, Promptly Put Back Together (video)." Engadget. Oct. 7, 2012. (March 17, 2013)
  • Schofield, Jack. "Amazon Kindle Paperwhite -- Review." Guardian. Oct. 26, 2012. (March 18, 2013)
  • Siegenthaler, E., Y. Bochud, P. Bergamin and P. Wurtz. "Reading on LCD vs. E-Ink Displays: Effects on Fatigue and Visual Strain." Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics. September 2012, Volume 32, Issue 5, Pages 367-374. (March 19, 2013)
  • Torres, Cesar. "Brighter, Sharper and Ad-filled: The Kindle Paperwhite Review." Ars Technica. Oct. 17, 2012. (March 24, 2013)
  • Wouk, Kristofer. "Technology Behind the Kindle Paperwhite Explained [video]." Android Authority. Sept. 29, 2012. (March 18, 2013)