It’s the 21st century book you read when you’re not reading a book. It’s the Kindle, and it’s already in its 11th generation. We got our hands – and eyes – on the new Paperwhite Signature Edition to check it out.
This one expands upon the basic model with a handful of niceties. There’s wireless charging – just plop your Kindle on a charging pad and it’ll get juiced up. Not that it’s something you’ll have to be too concerned about, as the battery life is astonishing. After a week’s daily reading ours was sitting at 90 per cent charge – which tallies with the claim of 10 weeks of reading per charge.
The latest model also includes the handiness of USB-C charging, via an included cable. Other Signature Edition features amount to a setting for auto-adjusting the screen’s brightness to suit whatever lighting conditions you find yourself within, and a beefy 32GB of storage that could hold more books – literally thousands – than anything you likely purchased at a Swedish superstore and swore at profusely during construction.
The first thing that strikes about the latest Kindle is its size – bigger than a smartphone, yet smaller than your average tablet. In practice – and specifically in our usual reading place, bed – it works a treat. You can easily balance the Kindle on your chest with one hand, even with the optional leather cover folded back, using your thumb to swipe pages.
Then there’s the screen – all 6.8 inches of it – itself. It’s glare-free, high resolution (300 ppi) and strikingly monochromatic. It looks great, and despite extended sessions, we never suffered any of the eye tiredness that we often get from standard tablets or our smartphone.
Have you ever dropped a book that you’re reading in the drink, or dropped a drink onto the book that you’re reading? It doesn’t end well, does it? The Kindle comes with an IPX8 rating, which, in English, means that in theory you could dunk it in in up to two metres of fresh water for up to 60 minutes, or the shallows of briny old sea water for up to three minutes.
For a dedicated old school book reader, the Kindle actually isn’t that great a leap – something which the boffins have obviously worked hard to achieve. You can set it to show the cover of the book that you’re currently into on the sleep screen, adjust the screen’s warmth for a more yellowed, real paper look and basically twiddle with any setting you could think of. Want to change the font? Sure! A different font size? Yep. You can even kick in dark mode to reverse everything, and accessibility options include Bluetooth-compatible ‘VoiceView’ screen reading. We can’t recall any classic styled books that can do any of that!
Still, for many the classic book experience is more than the words, it’s the action of page turning, and of jamming a bookmark in when it’s time to get on with other pursuits, holding your exact place until next time. Well, unless it falls out… Not only does the Kindle remember exactly where you’re up to, you can have several books on the go at once and call them up from within your library at any time, ready exactly where you left off, and with no chance of bookmarks taking a dive. It’s very neat. You can even set it to do a comforting page turning animation when you flick to the continuation of what you’re reading.
“For a dedicated old school book reader, the Kindle actually isn’t that great a leap.”
Some eBooks are also enhanced, from including the photo galleries that you might find in real books to YouTube and other links that you definitely won’t, at least not by tapping the page that you’re currently reading.
The range of titles available in eBook format is quite astonishing, and they’re often – but not always – cheaper than their traditional counterparts. The Kindle is Wi-Fi enabled, so copying your next page-turner to it is a breeze. While it’s a given that most new releases will be available, it should be noted that more obscure, niche titles will likely remain in classic form.
So, are we converted from our old school ways? Yes, and no. If we’re ever travelling, the Kindle will absolutely be the first thing that’s packed. It’s light and super-conveniently sized, and saves stuffing luggage full of heavy paper – leaving space to bring back more fun stuff from our journey! But as far as curling up in bed with a good book, we’ll likely remain traditionalists. Well, perhaps until we have a hankering to read the latest blockbuster…
The Kindle Paperwhite 6.8″ Signature Edition is available now.