Bibliophiles will love Amazon’s latest e-book reader. For a long while, LCD-based tablets had the a big advantage over these devices based on their bright, vibrant, screens. But the Kindle Paperwhite no longer requires ambient lighting for you to use it.
Reading e-books on a tablet was never a pleasant experience for me. The very nature of LCD technology leads to eye strain and battery life measured in hours. In comparison E Ink's technology is very efficient, enabling devices that run for weeks between charges instead. Having used the Paperwhite for several months now, I can personally comment that using Amazon's reader is no more taxing on my eyes than an actual book. If you can't put down that page-turner, you don't have to. I've never felt like I needed to take a break. The same is not true of an inexpensive tablet like the Nexus 7.
Ah, the inexpensive tablet dilemma. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD both sell for $199. The non-HD version of the Fire is now $159. Meanwhile, Amazon is asking $119 for the Special Offers version of its Paperwhite. It's really hard not to pay a little bit more for a more feature-rich tablet, isn't it?
Not only are tablets commonly used for reading e-books, but you can browse the Web, play games, take notes, listen to music, watch movies, balance your budget...the list goes on and on. You can also browse the Web on the Paperwhite, though it's impossible to get the full online experience without color. And your choice of games is limited to crossword puzzles and solitaire. And so, the decision to buy a tablet or an e-book reader comes down to what you do most. If you plan on reading books more than anything else, a reader gives you a much better experience than a tablet, and Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite approaches the bibliophile’s dream device. It's only lacking the ability to display colors, and Amazon is already working on that.
In the meantime, the Paperwhite is enough of an upgrade over past Kindles that we're awarding it our Tom's Hardware Approved Award. There's a lot to like here, though we'd like to see an even lower price to keep the e-book reader more differentiated from modern $200 tablets. But for what it's designed to do, this is definitely the Cadillac of e-book readers.