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Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: which Kindle is best for you?

Kindles are gaining popularity in Malaysia and many other countries in Asia. Chances of you bumping into a fellow commuter in the LRT with a Kindle in her hands is still probably very low, but hey, let's hope this upward trend continues and more Malaysians develop a reading habit.

When you are in the market for a brand new Kindle, you'd probably come across Kindle Basic, and Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon's most popular offerings. Deciding between these models isn't as straightforward as it used to be, seeing as the differences between them have drastically reduced over the years. However, there are still some significant differences to take into account when attempting to come to a decision. We will go through these differences, and hopefully, provide you with sufficient information to make your mind up.

Display

Let's start with arguably the most important component of an electronic book reader; its display. Both have great glare-free 6-inch electronic ink diplays with excellent refresh technology. These displays are incredibly power-efficient, paving way for weeks of battery life. The only significant difference between these displays lies in their resolution. Resolution is basically a measure of the amount of detail that is made visible to the viewer. This is often measured in pixels-per-inch, or in short, ppi. The ppi of a display is directly proportional to the quality of the image that is made visible to the viewer.

ppi.png

Kindle has a display with 167 ppi whereas Kindle Paperwhite has 300 ppi. Based on these numbers alone, it's obvious that text and images rendered on the Paperwhite would be of higher quality. It's important to keep in mind that the difference between these displays isn't very significant when rendering plain text. The Paperwhite's display truly shines when rendering images in PDFs or when displaying very small text, which may appear a little fuzzy on the basic Kindle.

The Paperwhite should be your Kindle of choice if you wish to read comic books, or content with images, or small text. For basic reading, both devices get the job done very well.

Front Light

Traditionally, the major differentiating factor between Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite was front light. Kindle Paperwhite had built-in front light, and the basic Kindle did not. It was as simple and straightforward as that. However, Amazon has been revamping its basic model over the years, and in 2019, decided to ship its basic Kindle with built-in front light. It's the first basic Kindle to be equipped with front-light technology.

There are some minor differences to take note of, however. Kindle's front-light system is powered by 4 LEDs whereas Kindle Paperwhite's system is powered by 5 LEDs. Both systems produce very soft, and well-distributed light, but the Paperwhite's system does a slightly better job at producing balanced light. The difference is subtle and certainly shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

Kindle Paperwhite's front-lighting system can get brighter than that of Kindle, thanks to the additional LED.

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Storage

Storage is often a very important element of the decision-making process, especially when dealing with phones and tablets that you'd most likely use for high-quality content consumption. With an electronic book reader, however, storage isn't as big a deal-breaker.

Kindle comes with 4GB/8GB of storage, and Kindle Paperwhite comes with 8GB/32GB of storage.

This may seem tiny compared to the storage on your brand new shiny iPhone, but remember, you aren't going to use your Kindle to store thousands of high-quality photos, videos and apps. You'll be using it to store ebooks, PDFs and audiobooks. The average size of an Amazon ebook is 2.6 MB (megabytes), whereas the average size of an Amazon audiobook is 150 MB (megabytes). Some quick Maths tells us that we'd be able to store more than 1000 ebooks and still have room for audiobooks even with the basic Kindle's 4GB storage.

Note: 1 GB = 1,000 MB

Design

Have you ever tried reading a book on an iPad? I'm absolutely sure the makers of Kindle have, for they have designed these devices to be incredibly light and comfortable, even with one-handed usage for extended periods of time.

Kindle, being the basic model, is made mainly of plastic. It feels good in the hands, but it certainly doesn't feel premium. The bezels are slightly raised adding to that less-than-premium look. The Paperwhite on the other hand has bezels that are flush with the screen, giving it a very premium and polished look.

Both feel great, and are excellent companions when travelling or commuting, but if you prefer a more premium and polished look, the Paperwhite is the device you should opt for.

Water Resistance

Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof (IPX8). You can enjoy your favourite books by the pool, beach, or even in the bath, if you're into that sort of a thing. This makes the Paperwhite a much better overall travel companion.

Comparison Table

DeviceKindle (10th Generation)
Kindle Paperwhite (10th Generation)
Screen6 inch (glare free)6 inch (glare free)
Storage4GB/8GB8GB/32GB
Resolution167 ppi300 ppi
Front Light4 LEDs5 LEDs
Weeks of Battery Lifecheck
check
Audible (via Bluetooth)check
check
Flush-front Design
check
Waterproof (IPX8)
check

Conclusion

It's difficult to recommend one product over the other purely based on their specifications. It all depends on what exactly you're in need of. The basic Kindle is an excellent device to introduce you to the world of electronic book readers, but if you're after a top-quality overall experience, the Kindle Paperwhite would be the perfect Kindle for you.



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