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Up close with Amazon's new, sharper Kindle Paperwhite

Hey there hyphens — nice to see you

We've just finished updating the software on the new Kindle Paperwhite with a 300ppi display to a beta version with Amazon's new font and new text rendering engine. The verdict? It's way better. True to Amazon's claims, hyphenation is more logical and spacing between lines and paragraphs is much more sensible.

Amazon also makes a big deal out of things like ligatures (allowing some letters to sit more closely or even overlap) and drop caps and while they're both impressive, I'm more impressed with the new Bookerly font on this screen. An e-reader like a Kindle is a real "one job" kind of gadget: it needs to lay out text in a super readable fashion. It's nice to finally see Amazon give some real attention to that.

But it's the pixel density on this screen that does the most to make text more readable. It's a huge step up, even if the other elements of the screen haven't changed: it's not that much different than the last generation's in terms of contrast. It can get just a little brighter, but at max brightness it's a little bluer than last year's model. It also doesn't have the ambient light sensor you'll find on the Voyage. Yes, even though it has the same pixel density as the Kindle Voyage, the Voyage still has a slightly better screen. But regardless, the 300ppi here makes a huge difference in terms of readability and just plain overall experience. It's really great, and I'm glad to see that Amazon hasn't increased the price at all: it's still $119.

The new Paperwhite seems ever-so-slightly faster than the old Paperwhite, but it's impossible to know whether that's due to improved software or just the (occasional) software quirks I've seen on pretty much every Kindle e-reader. The new software should roll out to Kindle e-readers in the coming weeks and the Paperwhite itself will begin shipping on June 30th.

We'll have more to say in a full review, but for now have a look at some hands-on photos of the new Paperwhite side-by-side with the last version. They're virtually indistinguishable, but you'll know you're looking at the new one because it's the one on the left, and you can also tell by its matted logos and sharper screen.

Photography by Chris Welch


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