Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is now waterproof. (Photo: Edward C. Baig)
You are determined to finish that page-turner no matter what, and nothing, not even a steady downpour, is going to slow you down. And now that Amazon’s most popular Kindle eBook reader, the Paperwhite, is waterproof, you and your Kindle can more confidently brave the elements. OK, so perhaps you won’t choose to read in the rain. But you might willingly take the Kindle into the pool or bathtub.
The new Paperwhite, due out Nov. 7, is not the first Kindle you can get all wet. That distinction belongs to the Kindle Oasis that came out about a year ago. But while the top-of-the-line Oasis starts at a whopping $249.99 with 8GB of storage – and climbs to $349.99 for a model with 32GB, plus cellular access to download books when Wi-Fi is unavailable – the latest Paperwhite clocks in at $129.99 for an 8GB model, $159.99 for 32GB or $249.99 for 32GB and cellular.
(The prices here reflect “special offers,” meaning you’ll see sponsored screensavers and personalized ads on the Kindle lock screen.)
The latest Paperwhite – and for that matter, all Kindles including the entry-level $79.99 model – gains another feature previously reserved for the Oasis: access to Audible audio books. It means that if you purchase an Audible bestseller and own its Kindle counterpart as well, you can switch back and forth between both versions, keeping your place in the book in sync. (Audible is an Amazon subsidiary.)
To listen to Audible books, you’ll have to pair a Bluetooth headphone or speaker with the Kindle.
Meanwhile, under a temporary promotion, Paperwhite buyers also get six months for free of the Kindle Unlimited service, which gives you access to a selection of eBooks and audiobooks at no extra charge; after that, you’ll have to pay about $10 a month to keep Kindle Unlimited.
The new Paperwhite is also thinner and lighter than its predecessor and sports a front flush design. Amazon will tell you it carries less than half the weight of a typical paperback. It has a crisp, glare-free 6-inch monochrome display with 5 LEDs and an adjustable front light. It has a screen resolution of 300 ppi, the same as the Oasis.
As with all the Kindle models, battery life on Paperwhite is measured in weeks, not hours or days.
With waterproofing and other features now coming to the lower-priced Kindle, you may be wondering why anyone would ever buy the Oasis, which appears to be a splurge for all but the most avid bookworms? The biggest difference comes with the larger 7-inch display on the Oasis, which Amazon says translates into about 30 percent more words on the screen. Plus the Oasis features physical page turn buttons to complement the touchscreen, which the cheaper Kindles don’t have.
The waterproof Kindles adhere to a standard known as “IPX 68,” meaning they’re rated to withstand immersion in up to 2 meters of fresh water for up to an hour. Amazon still recommends certain precautions if your Kindle gets wet. If splashed with water, wipe it off with a soft cloth. If immersed, you should remove its optional cover (if you have one) and make sure no cables are plugged into the device. Make sure as well not to charge your Kindle until it is completely dry.
Meantime, if the Kindle is dunked in salt water, chlorinated water, soapy water or liquids other than fresh water, you should rinse the liquid out of the device with cold tap water, and then dry it off.
It has been 11 years since the original Kindle came out, and you might think such dedicated reading devices would be past their prime. After all, you can read Kindle books in all sorts of ways nowadays, including on your smartphone, computer or tablet.
But Kindles still do a better job than these other platforms when it comes to replicating the experience of reading on paper, and Amazon, while not giving out sales numbers, still reports they’re selling gangbusters. The company says that during its latest Prime Day this past July, Kindle had its biggest sale day ever, both in the U.S. and abroad.
And that was before the newest Kindle could get all wet.
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