Review of the Kindle Paperwhite (2021)

In this day and age of super phones and smart everything sometimes we want something that is just got a single purpose - reading books is one of them.  I have friends who absolutely say that they will not give up on paper, but I'd long eschewed real books, and they just feel odd nowadays to me.

I've read books on a device since my Palm Pilot days using iSilo.  So I'm used to my 'book' being also my smart device, so when these eReaders came along I thought 'nah, I got something like it already, I'm good'... but I got the chance to review this, and thought I'd give it a go.  I admit, that I've not been a real 'reader' for a while, life getting busy and all, but why not give it a go.  

It's changed my reading, I'm loving reading and just devouring books again, all because of its sole purpose - to be a good book alternative.

Let's dive into the review:

First off specs:

  • 6.8" display @ 300ppi
  • 8GB storage
  • IPX8
  • USB-C
  • Wifi & Bluetooth
  • 1420mAh battery

For $149CDN.

Now you may say 'woop', those are not at all great specs... but we're not comparing this to a smartphone; it's like saying this bicycle isn't as fast as a car - but it's 2 entire different use case scenarios.

And that's something I had to really struggle with - this is not my QuadHD display with 120Hz refresh rate and huge RAM.  Because it's something that's super noticeable right away.  Touching the display doesn't INSTANTANEOUSLY register, you hit power and it doesn't spring to life that millisecond.  Setting it up takes some patience.  Don't push a bunch of options too quickly.

When setting it up, since it's an Amazon product you'll go through setting up an Amazon account, if you haven't already.  Through the web you can then set up the device and any book you purchase through Amazon automatically can be synced to the device.

Great if you're in Amazon.  It even has some account options for you to get unlimited books with a subscription.  They even can walk you through some examples of books you may have read or would want to read for its suggestions.  Just be patient as you go through it - you can't tap as quickly through it like on a smartphone.

So it works really well and easily if you're an Amazon user.

If you're not, then it's not as simple, but it's possible.

First way is to transfer your books with the USB-C cable and transfer it like a thumb drive.  You can transfer only certain types of files for it to read, like MOBI and PDF.  It doesn't like EPUB, so you'll need to convert it.  

The other option is to email the book as an attachment in an email.  The device gets its own special email address - BUT you can only send it something from an approved email address you set up in the Amazon settings on the web.  Took me too long to figure that out - my Amazon account uses my Hotmail, but I was sending it files from my Gmail...

Files on there are then easily accessed in your list and you can read away.

Depending on the book if it's set up with the book cover you can see it then on the screen when you turn it off.  But some books, again depending on the set up, may show the cover in the list, but not on the display when off.  

Kinda neat seeing the book cover when you put it away.

Speaking of putting it away, the build of it - although somewhat feels a little cheap - gives you some courage/confidence that you don't have to super baby it.  It's a rubbery back and a plasticy front.  Although, it did get a little 'nick' on it when I put it in my bag once.  So, depending on how you use it, you may want to get a cover.

The main 'home' of the system is kinda like a bookshelf of your library, or it has the 'home' which is the Amazon system of recommendations.

Let's get into actually reading a book.  

The device has 300ppi - which translates to about 1400x1000 or so, so slightly less than a QuadHD display, but it's not so much for playing movies or scrolling around on social media, it's just for reading text and it definitely comes across very clear.

And reading on a bigger display than a phone is really nice for the eyes.  The bottom bezel has a nice chin for you to use your thumb to really hold it comfortably.

Navigation while reading is easy, tap one side to go to the next page, tap the left to go back a page.  If you tap the top of the page you get the options for that book (like bookmarks, etc...) or go back to the home / shelf.

Swipe down from the top of the page and you get the system settings like turning on Wifi / Bluetooth / change to dark mode etc...

Personally, I like to read it in 'dark mode' - not sure it's any change in the battery usage, but definitely easier on the eyes at night when I'm reading.

While reading if you run across a word you're unsure of, you can long press it and the dictionary will give you the definition.  

Even better, I like the option at the bottom corner where it shows you your 'location' (not sure what that number really means), but tap it and it cycles between 'nothing', location, and then how much time it's estimated to finish the chapter or book.  Really helps when you're reading to be like "well, it's only 7 minutes until the end of the chapter, so of course I'll just finish reading to the chapter..." 


But it's not just about books, with its bluetooth connection you can pair up a set of headphones and listen to an audio book.

Overall, the device acts as a great replacement for a book, and the sole purpose of it meaning it does a good job of it too.  Best of all because it only does the one thing it really lets you read distraction free.  No social media post notifications, no emails, or text messages to just pop up and take you away from reading.

And you can just read and read.  The 8GB is enough for thousands of books (unless you've got audio books, those can be big).  The battery is approximately good for 10 weeks they say, but for me it's been about 10% of use per week since I've had it, but your mileage may vary, depending on how much you use it I guess.  I use it for about an hour or 2 a day maybe, some days more, some days less.

For $150CDN it's a good deal for a reader.  And then when you buy it, you'll get 4 years of security updates from Amazon.  4 years after the last one is sold too, so if it's around for a couple years, you'll get 4 years from that date.