Kindle Paperwhite 4th Gen

Updated 28-Jun-2024

Update Oct 2021 There is finally a new Kindle Paperwhite -- fifth generation -- which has a few nice new features: a larger 6.8" screen, amber sidelight, and USB-C, and is slightly larger and weighs about 10% more, just at 200g. This runs about $160 USD with no ads, and $200 with a leather cover. Unfortunately all the items are sold out, and also are not shipping internationally at this time. I'll be getting one as soon as they are available for international shipping. We've still got the first and fourth generation Kindle Paperwhites in the house. The five year-old has the first generation, and I'll pass my fourth generation to the three year-old, who is just starting to learn his phonics.

Update May 2021 I've finally got this new Kindle Paperwhite 4th Gen (sometimes called Kindle Paperwhite 2018 and sometimes Kindle Paperwhite 10th Gen). It is an improvement. Still no USB-C, which is silly, but other aspects of the hardware are good. However, the software interface is significantly harder to deal with (more clicking, things have moved, for no apparent reason).

This year there are now several viable color ebook readers. Still pricey but now in the realm of actual technology rather than vaporware or super-pricey non-starters. My guess is that the first provider who can get something like the Kindle Paperwhite but with color (even without amber lighting) will do quite well. For my 3- and 5-year old children color is an advantage and a disadvantage. I want them to get into reading text, as that sets the imagination free in ways that simple drawings cannot. That said, some books or other materials (manga, etc.) are much better in color.

The only real desired improvement for this device, besides color, is a removal of the bezels and a change of screen size from 6" to 7.8", as this better accommodates larger PDF files.

I've used a Kindle since the Kindle Keyboard (3rd gen), and since then purchased and used the DX for a while (the much larger model). On 06 September 2012 the Kindle Paperwhite was released and I registered mine on 10 September. I broke that model within six months by wedging it in a bag that had too many objects in it, but Amazon sent out a replacement free-of-charge (which included free shipping, and I live outside the United States).

Well folks, the first generation Paperwhite has served me well, and I did not feel a need for an upgrade, at the prices that were available for fancy versions like the Voyage and Oasis, or non-Kindle devices such as what Kobo offers. However, at this point, on the eve of the release of the fourth generation of the paperwhite, that has changed, and I intend to upgrade.

Specifications of First and Fourth Generation Paperwhite

Generation Dimensions Weight Lighting Screen Storage Bluetooth Audible Waterproof
First Gen 117 x 169 x 9.1 mm 213 grams 4 led 212 ppi 2gb no no
Fourth Gen 116 x 167 x 8.2 mm 182 grams 5 led 300 ppi 8/32gb yes IPX8

Reasons to Upgrade

At 12% smaller (mainly due to thinness) and 15% lighter, less is more, and this is a significant motivator to upgrade. Storage is not an issue for me, and 8gb will be fine. The increased quality of the lighting 5 vs. 4 led) and screen resolution (300ppi vs. 212ppi) are nice, but not essential. Bluetooth audible is ok. I don't use audible now but might later. I certainly would not upgrade for that feature. The waterproof quality, combined with dimensions/weight and screen, is what puts this over the edge in terms of a desire to upgrade.

Open Source, Open Content

While I do use a Kindle, most of my content I have in PDF and Epub formats. PDF is not very readable on the Kindle and I rarely do it. However, Epubs are easy to convert using Calibre, an open source, cross platform library and ebook management tool. The DeDRM toolkit is very useful for stripping out the nasty DRM that comes with Kindle ebooks. I prefer unlocked files as my main library repository. Also, many ebooks are available at a variety of locations including Library Genesis, a resource of unparalleled breadth and depth.

I prefer to use the Kindle device due to its quality hardware, and ease of access of their ebook offerings (I do regularly purchase content from Amazon). The DRM they use I simply work-around/ignore. In the past I've rooted both the Kindle Keyboard (3rd Gen), Kindle DX, and Kindle Paperwhite, though my current version is using stock Kindle software on the device. I'm not irrevocably mated to Kindle and Amazon, but it is my current preferred platform.