The eBook reader is a great way to experience books, but this year, Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition evolves the how you read just that little bit more.
Even though we’re at the end of the year, there are still gadgets getting in there. One month before we shut the door on 2021 and invite 2022 to stay, Amazon’s latest flavour of the Kindle is out, and it’s not just “yet another eBook reader”. Well, it is, but it’s also one looking to give that little bit more.
What’s new about the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite?
A jump in size, this year’s flavour of the mid-range Kindle sees a shift in size and a special edition, with a few differences between both.
Now in its 8th generation, regardless of whether you opt for the Kindle Paperwhite in or out of its signature edition, you’ll find a shift from a 6 inch screen to a 6.8 inch screen, a small shift that could make a big difference for readers, getting close to the 7 inch screen on offer from the Kindle Oasis.
Both models also support a front-lighting screen technology with 17 LEDs with an adjustable warm light, allowing you to control the warmth and brightness yourself. Both also support an IPX8 water-resistant design.
Where they differ, however, is what sort of extra features you get.
What makes the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite a “Signature Edition”?
For instance, while the Kindle Paperwhite costs $239 for an 8GB Paperwhite model, the Paperwhite Signature Edition is $280 in Australia, and bolsters the storage to 32GB, throwing in an auto-adjusting light like its Oasis sibling, while also bundling in one extra thing: wireless charging.
This is one of those features not even the Kindle Oasis gets, making it a real new feature for Kindle. Simply put, if you have a wireless charging pad, you can charge the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition on said pad, or even switch over to the USB Type C port at the bottom.
What does it do?
Much like all other Kindles, the 2021 Paperwhite model is an eReader, taking in digital books and comics and throwing them on an electronic ink screen.
As with any Kindle, you’ll need to grab your titles from Amazon’s online book marketplace, because the Kindle is made to support titles purchased solely from its online store. Granted, there are more ways to get those these days, because while you can obviously buy books from Amazon, you can also subscribe to Amazon’s all-you-can-read unlimited book buffet service, and if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can also find some titles found for free for you to read, as well.
Technically, Amazon’s Paperwhite will also handle other formats, specifically TXT, DOC, and PDF, but it won’t touch the EPUB standard offered on pretty much every reader. If you have EPUB files, they won’t run here, sadly.
Does it do the job?
Books of other formats will, however, and with Amazon’s online store offering quite a lot, not to mention its unlimited book offering, and random book and comic titles if you happen to subscribe to the Amazon Prime Video service.
Grab some of those titles, and the Kindle Paperwhite provides more than enough under the hood to let you read with ease, ditching the buttons and just going with a touchscreen experience to let you read your words.
Tap the top quarter of the screen to get controls to let you go back to the main menu or change things like font size, though you can also do that by expanding the text size with your fingers, much like you can on a phone or tablet. Swipe down from the top to change brightness and warmth, while also switching into dark mode our out of it. Those gestures are very much in line with what you can do on phones, too, so if you’re used to using an Android or iPhone, much of what you do on the Kindle Paperwhite should be commonplace.
And once you know what to do, it’s really just as simple as, you know, reading. Read and swipe and read some more, because the point of the Paperwhite is to do just that: read.
Much like its competitors from Kobo, this is an eReader to let you get stuck in, and do it in any lighting environment.
With our warm bedside lamp switched on, the Paperwhite adopted a more yellow-y glow, helping our eyes adjust with a warmer colour rather than the harsh blue-tinged white. That controller is a little like its sibling in the Kindle Oasis, but it’s not automatic, so you’ll still control how warm the colour of the page is yourself, not through a sensor.
Viewing the books and flipping the pages — which is touch all a touch away — was very fast, with more or less zero lag as we used the Kindle.
What does it need?
The reality is that an eReader doesn’t need to do anything more than read books, magazines, and comics. It pretty much needs to just handle reading material, and the Kindle Paperwhite sure does that.
However Amazon seems to have pulled its Kindle-based web browser out of beta, and we’re not sure it necessarily should have. While you’re probably not going to be browsing the web from your Kindle, if you do, the web browser is clunky, the interface weird, and the Google experience just too small to be useful. Whereas most of the web has adapted screen sizes for web surfing, the Kindle hasn’t, and you shouldn’t use it for a web browser.
You’ll also miss out on audiobook support, something we saw in the Paperwhite competitor, the Kobo Libra 2, which lets you listen to audiobooks over Bluetooth, but not in Kindle’s equivalent. There is no audiobook support here, sadly, even if Amazon’s Audible technically supports them.
Is it worth your money?
At $289, however, we’d say that the Paperwhite Signature Edition is worth it, even over the $239 standard Paperwhite.
You’re getting just that little bit extra in the “Signature” model, and while you may not use the wireless charging, the extra space could make all the difference.
We’d even argue the Paperwhite may make more sense than the more expensive Kindle Oasis, which is sleeker and lighter, but misses out on wireless charging and uses the older microUSB standard, something that has been replaced with Type C USB in the 2021 Paperwhite models. With the Oasis starting at $319 for 8GB or $369 for 32GB, the $289 32GB Paperwhite makes more sense from a value stand point.
Yay or nay?
All up, the Paperwhite Signature Edition is a great evolution on the eReader, adding the sort of extra bits you might expect from a reading device, including warm lighting and more ways to charge. It misses out on audiobooks, sure, but for someone who wants to read, that might be less of an issue.
While not revolutionary, it’s definitely evolutionary, and gives you an idea of just what Amazon will add next, delivering a great eReader for people who want to read with a battery life lasting weeks that you needn’t think about. Granted, you’ll need to live in the Amazon ecosystem for books, but if that doesn’t bother you, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is well worth checking out. Recommended.