So we know all about Amazon's new Kindle Paperwhite, but those press images don't really do the trick, do they? Weirdly, we had to travel all the way to Berlin, but we did manage to get our hands on the new device. As we said before, there aren't a ton of aesthetic changes here. Thankfully, we had our last-gen Paperwhite in hand, and quite frankly, we couldn't really tell the difference -- until we picked it up, that is. Gen two of the Paperwhite is noticeably lighter than its predecessor.
Longtime Paperwhite users will be able to tell you that the minute they hold it in their hands. Another obvious clue: the giant Amazon logo on the soft-touch rear. Granted, we're probably picking nits here (especially yours truly, someone who carries his own Paperwhite around in a case), but the older Kindle logo was a bit more tasteful. We did really appreciate the front lighting in the earlier generation -- and then Kobo came along with the Glo. Since then, things haven't really been the same.
Kindle Paperwhite (mid-2013) hands-on
Update: Amazon wanted us to let you know that the version of the Kindle we had a chance to look at is specifically intended for the European market.
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Amazon has made a point to improve things on that end, thankfully. Sure, we were in a well-lit room, but the new front lighting really does look great -- much more evenly dispersed than before. The contrast has been improved as well, though that's a bit tougher to verify at first glance. Same with the touch, which is a bit more accurate, according to Amazon.
The software has been refined here, too. GoodReads is still forthcoming, sadly, but we do appreciate things like Page Flip, which lets you look through the book without losing your place thanks to a cool thumbnail system. Smart Lookup is neat as well, adding Wikipedia information on top of the dictionary and X-Ray. Vocabulary Builder is a nice addition for those looking to speak more good, but we already talk right.
All in all, there are a lot of nice add-ons here, and we're glad to see that Amazon's not letting its devoted e-reader line languish amongst the tablet boom, though hardware-wise, the slight upgrades really pale in comparison to the impressive work Kobo has done with the Aura. Still, with a starting price of $119, the new Paperwhite is still a great reader.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.