I’ve spent significant time with a wide array of e-reading devices over the years and was pretty stoked to see Amazon take on the Nook Simple Touch Glowlight with the new front-lit Kindle Paperwhite ($119 and up). Unfortunately, while the display bests B&N’s offering, it doesn’t live up to Amazon’s marketing hype (or imagery). From Amazon’s product page:
Perfectly Balanced Whiteness
We worked on Kindle Paperwhite for over two years to perfect the uniformity of the built-in light, flattening out a fiber optic cable into a sheet, and nanoimprinting to ensure perfectly even distribution of light. Our design uses nanoscale optical diffractive patterns to enable tight control over the direction of the light. Enjoy reading with exceptional lighting uniformity and evenly balanced whiteness across the entire display.
Even though I’ve only possessed my new Kindle a few short hours, it’s clear that Amazon’s claims of “perfectly balanced,” “uniformity,” and “even distribution” are overblown. Unless I, and several other customers, received units from a bad lot (which I kinda doubt). Light appears to emanate from four points at the bottom of the screen — these elements are not visible during normal reading, and only seen when inspecting the Paperwhite at a severe angle. However, proof of their existence is clear via darker smudges and some sort of crosshatch pattern covering the lower inch or so of the Kindle. Which is definitely noticeable, and currently distracting, while reading.
Ironically, perhaps, this uneven presentation is most apparent in low light situations – when one would most appreciate e-Ink lighting. But is it a deal breaker? For me… the integrated light, despite its shortcomings and misrepresentation, beats returning to my oh-so-geeky LED headlamp for bedtime reading. And I’m hopeful I’ll grow accustomed to the splotches and tune them out as I do the notorious e-Ink page turn flash.