Kindle Paperwhite: a small step or a giant leap for e-reader kind?

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When a company updates a popular product, nipping here and tucking there, it can sometimes be difficult to work out exactly what makes the new version better than the old one. This is what can make the decision to upgrade to the next iPhone or Dyson vacuum cleaner a difficult thing to justify to oneself. Have the small changes led to a quantum leap or is the new version just a new shiny toy with slightly higher specs?

This is the question all Kindle owners must be asking themselves right about now, following the release of the new Kindle Paperwhite. Is the latest e-reader good enough to upgrade from the previous model?

The answer to that question may depend on one factor: how much of typography nerd are you? The new Paperwhite is pretty much identical to its predecessor in every way, except that Amazon has bumped its screen up to a super high-resolution 300 pixels per inch. This means that your book will be legible even if you reduce the text size, line spacing and margins dramatically. Of course, why anyone would want to read books at 5pt is not entirely clear. Still, if you love your text crisp, then this is the best resolution screen Amazon has come up with so far. The top model Kindle Voyage, for example, has the same resolution, but at £70 more is also much more expensive.

The Paperwhite is in many other ways pretty close to its predecessor – still with a six-inch screen, still with 4GB of storage. Its performance is maybe a touch quicker than last year’s Paperwhite, but nothing too significant.

So is the Paperwhite a small step for an e-reader or a giant leap for e-reader kind? The former really. If you have recently bought yourself a Kindle (or Nook GlowLight or the Kubo Aura HD) then you probably don’t need a Paperwhite, but if your kit is getting a bit old and you want one of the best screens available at a fraction of the price of a Kindle Voyage, then this could be the e-reader for you.

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