I will fully admit that I have made way too many quarantine impulse purchases. Like way too many. I do not need two Nintendo Switches (one was the Lite, which I bought first because I didn’t know I’d be obsessed with Animal Crossing). I also don’t need this brand new M1 MacBook Pro on which I am currently writing this (although I don’t regret it at all, this thing is incredible and runs even better than my 16 inch MacBook Pro – don’t judge me, just learn from my mistakes and save some money by getting the cheaper 13 inch M1 Pro or Air if you’re in the market). I’m seriously coming out of this pandemic with a lot of new tech and I don’t know how I feel about that.

But one of my most recent semi-impulse purchases that I definitely don’t really need is a Kindle Paperwhite. Honestly, I have been eyeing this thing for quite a while. But I always managed to talk myself out of it. Because I also have an iPad and an iPhone (definitely not obsessed with Apple products over here), both of which not only have the iBooks app which I really like, they also run the Kindle app and can read all of the Kindle books.

So why did I get it?

Long story short, I am old. Okay, not really. But ask anyone in their thirties and they will tell you they can definitely feel their age. And years of living in books has not been kind to my eyes, especially since I read more and more ebooks (as I live in fear of an earthquake burying me under all of my books).

Basically, iPad reading in bed wasn’t doing my any favors. It was affecting my sleep and literally making my eyes hurt. Like all the time. Not to mention I work in front of a computer all day and blog in my free time – also in front of said computer – so the screen time wasn’t good. But I liked reading on my iPad or phone in bed because of that one time I dropped The Lord of the Rings on my face and gave myself a fat lip (not kidding). Also, the my current lighting situation isn’t that conducive to reading in bed.

Enter… the Kindle Paperwhite.

In case you don’t know, the whole thing with the Paperwhite is that it has an e-ink screen, which, based on my research is kind of like a digital etch-a-sketch (don’t quote me on that). The important thing is that it doesn’t have crazy contrast, pretty much looks like paper, and doesn’t have that pesky blue light that doesn’t make your brain thing it’s daytime all the time. Seriously, people, your phone is ruining your sleep cycle. But if there was a way for me to read on a small, light device that didn’t make my eyes hurt, I was curious.

So, when I got a coupon one day to get it for $60, instead of the normal retail price of $129, I decided to go for it.

The Pros

Obviously, the screen is a huge pro with the Paperwhite. It really does resemble paper and my eyes don’t get that feeling that what I’m staring at is way too bright. I can read on it for a good long while without my eyes watering. Which is a win! And kind of the point of me trying this out.

But the biggest thing the Kindle has going for it is that it leaves me with fewer distractions. I honestly didn’t consider this going in, but it honestly ended up being the thing I love most about the Kindle. Whenever I read on my phone or my iPad, I have tons of other apps at my fingertips. If I got a text message or another notification, it would pop up on the screen. Which is super distracting. The Kindle doesn’t have that problem, which is really nice. I can put my phone face down somewhere on silent and just read.

Now, these are some features I really like that are also available on iBooks and/or the Kindle app, but I just want to mention them:

First, you can use Libby to borrow ebooks through your local library and reading them on your Kindle. Which is awesome, since my library is kind of gross and I never actually go there. I also have access to the university library at the university where I work, and they have a great collection of anti-racism books, which I’ve been making my way through.

I do also like that you can make highlights and notes, and also look up unfamiliar words. Kindle (the app and the actual Kindle) has the benefit of being able to share said notes and highlights to Goodreads if you so choose. That’s not really what I use it for, but it’s a thing if you’re interested (or want to know how people share their highlights and notes to Goodreads all the time).

The Kindle also allows you to shop for ebooks and use Goodreads, though you can also do this on a phone or tablet, just through separate apps.

The Cons

All that said, there are a few things I think the Kindle app actually does better than the Paperwhite. These things obviously aren’t total dealbreakers since I didn’t return my Kindle and still use it. But they are things that occasionally irritate me.

First, this thing is SLOW. Like, really slow. Not just “slightly older smartphone” slow, like Nokia snake phone from 2002 slow. This thing has basically zero processing speed, which means trying to do anything takes a lot longer than most of us are used to. I am very bad at actually getting rid of my old gadgets and I can’t think of a single one I still own that even comes close to the snail-like speed of the Kindle. And it doesn’t really need a lot of power, but it took me a while to get used to the fact that turning pages takes a full second or two.

Which brings me to con number two: you can’t scroll. One of the things I love most about reading ebooks is that I can scroll, which limits my eye movements and helps me read a lot faster. That can’t be done with the Kindle (though you can scroll on most books on the Kindle app). The nature of the e-ink technology means scrolling isn’t a possibility, you have to turn the pages. Honestly, mildly irritating, but I’ll live.

Now this is a very small complaint, but I do find it a little inconvenient that the Paperwhite is in black and white. I have a somewhat photographic memory, and seeing the colors on the ebook covers is helpful to me. I also like using Kindle Unlimited to read comics, which I still have to do on the Kindle app on my iPad. Again, you don’t need color for 99% of the things you can use the Paperwhite for, but sometimes I wish it was there. (I’ve heard color e-ink is coming, but I’m sure it’ll be really pricy and probably not worth it given it’s other limitations.)

Not Pros or Cons, but worth noting

There are a few different versions of the Kindle Paperwhite available. The deal I found was only available for the 8 GB, ad-supported, black model. So that’s what I got. And, in case you are wondering, that is exactly what I’d get again if I had to choose. Eight gigabytes is more than enough space for all of the books I’d like to read and I read a lot. So it’s not worth upgrading. Also, the ads are surprisingly not annoying at all. So I probably wouldn’t pay more to go without knowing what I know now (though I definitely wanted to when I first saw that).

It is pretty small, and has giant bezels (the area around the screen). The screen size itself is slightly shorter and and a little wider than my iPhone 12 Pro. I’d say it also weighs about the same as my phone does. It’s smaller than I was anticipating, but I actually do like that since it’s easy to hold and carry around (it fits in the pocket of my sweatpants – win!)

Is it worth it?

Short answer: no. I really don’t think this thing is worth the normal price of $129 (or more depending on the model you get). It feels very cheap for something you’d imagine at that price point. The painfully slow processor, the plastic back, and the giant bezels don’t scream “I’m worth over $100!” to me.

However, if you can manage to get it for a great deal like I did, then maybe it is worth it. I do really appreciate the screen that doesn’t cause me pain when reading and also having a separate device that limits distractions. I’m not totally convinced I’d buy it all over again, but I can’t say I wouldn’t do it for $60.

Personally, I definitely wouldn’t recommend getting this instead of an actual tablet. There are a ton of tablets out there that are around the same price or cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite. However, if you have a tablet, like me, and want something exclusively for reading or you’re very concerned about your eyes, maybe look into it and just wait for a great deal. And there’s no reason to go for anything other than the cheapest model with this one.

Do you have a Kindle or another e-reader? If you don’t, do you see yourself ever getting one?

30 thoughts

  1. I use a regular tablet and the kindle and overdrive app to read, but I’ve considered buying a proper e-reader for a while. From the pros and cons you listed, I probably wouldn’t get this version of a kindle, but this does make kindle ereaders sound like a good deal though. How’s the battery life?

    Though before I make any decision, I still need to make some research on kobos🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The battery life is really good (not surprising since the processor is so slow). I can go at least a week or two without charging it, if not longer. Definitely do your research and I’d recommend waiting for a sale or a coupon or something. I personally feel like all of them are kind of pricy for what you get.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read mostly e-books so I’ve thought about getting a Kindle Paperwhite but I haven’t for the reasons you mentioned. I feel like the Kindle app is more than enough personally so I haven’t updgraded to an actual Kindle tablet.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Honestly, I still alternate between the two, and mostly just use the Paperwhite for nighttime reading to protect my eyes. It is really nice for that, but I don’t really use it quite as much as I’d hoped.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a Paperwhite and loved it (I read mostly eBooks). But I didn’t like the size. I kept dropping it on my face when reading…lol. My husband upgraded me to the Kindle Oasis and it is so much better to hold. There is also more options for personalizing it (fonts/margins/text size) than the Paperwhite.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really love my paperwhite. It’s especially good for reading outside or in the car when it’s bright since there’s no glare. Luckily there isn’t anything about it that I don’t like except the lack of color. I’m just not a fan of reading on my ipad. I still prefer physical books, but I’m happy to have the kindle for all my earcs and some of the good deals I find.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Honestly, I feel like I would love the paperwhite more if I could scroll instead of having to turn the pages. That’s the biggest advantage the kindle app has over the actual kindle, at least for me. But I’m glad you love yours!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can understand that. I think I’m okay with just tapping the page because I’ve been using a paperwhite for so long. I don’t think I’ve scrolled to read except for graphic novels on my computer. I might have been more annoyed if I was scrolling to read first.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I think it would be different if I wasn’t so used to scrolling. I feel like a read a lot faster that way and I sometimes get a little impatient having to wait for the pages to turn

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this great analysis. I read a lot outside and my tablet or kindle fire don’t cut it in the sun. I like the pros, but those cons are not good. I will check out the Oasis that was mentioned in the comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know how you like it! I know some people might not mind the slowness and no scrolling ability, but they do bug me. I’d definitely be interested in trying the Oasis, but I can’t really justify paying much more than $60 for an e-reader so 🤷🏻‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, the Oasis looks awesome, but it’s more than I would want to spend. I got the Paperwhite for $60 and I don’t think it’s worth more than that for me. Hopefully a good deal pops up. Maybe a Prime Day thing? I know the Amazon products are usually really discounted.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this comparison! A couple years ago I did a lot of research on whether it was worth it to get a tablet/ kindle. At the time, I stuck with physical books. I finally gave in and asked for an iPad mini last Christmas for all of my e-reading and love it! I took off most of the apps that I use on my phone. I chose an iPad because I prefer to buy books through iBooks and I get to keep my access to the Kindle app, which I mostly use for NetGalley, and the Libby app. Happy reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I also prefer iBooks and my iPad. I think what pushed me over the edge into buying the Kindle was mostly that I’m old and the iPad does hurt my eyes after a while 😂. I still use both, though

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have an older model Paperwhite and an iPad Pro 12.9“. I read books on the Kindle and comics and illustrated books on the tablet. I prefer the Kindle for reading books, because of the e-ink tech, the lower weight and smaller size. I tried several ebook readers, before going for a kindle, because the Kindle is the fastest one of the bunch! And I hate all that messing about with Acrobate of the other readers. Oh, and it fits into my handbag. Anyway, I will definitely get another Kindle, if and when my current one croaks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I definitely do like my iPad for comics and can definitely imagine how the 12.9 inch one is way too big to read on. I have the smaller version (11 inches I think), and still prefer to read on my phone out of the two. But the e-ink technology is really cool, and it’s definitely nice that I can read for an hour without my eyes hurting. I do also like the size and weight of it, it’s easy to tote around.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have an old iPhone SE, the screen is too small to read. And I read several hours at a time — much nicer with the kindle. The great thing about the iPad Pro: the comics are almost at original size!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. i use my cell phone kindle app to read ALL my books and never knew about the “blue light” thing until i got a pair of blue light glasses from Amazon. OMG, the relief–makes such a difference. then i got “reading glasses” with the blue light technology for the computer. definitely have more staying power

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the blue light filters make a huge difference. I have blue light built into my glasses, and I have all of my devices set to minimize blue light after a certain time of day. It helps a lot!


      1. I’m glad someone mentioned turning on the blue light filter because that is the single best thing that makes reading on my phone/tablet easier. I always turn the brightness way down, crank that thing up to orange, and make sure the “page color” is “sepia” toned versus pure white to also minimize the eye strain. I was a solid B&N Nook user for YEARS, but the convenience of my phone/tablet slowly won out.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. yeah, blue light filters are the best! I also read on my phone with the black background and white text. It hurts my eyes so much less than the white background.


  9. I bought one after eyeing it for months last year. I told myself to try it out for a month to have a proper experience with it and I just couldn’t for the life of me reach out for it. The cons are so true, the lagging and no scroll option was ultimately why I returned it in the end. It is a good product idea and I can see avid readers have a good time with it. But for someone who reads here and there it’s probably not the best option. For now reading will be on paper and/or ebooks on my phone until something better comes along. (I’m hoping Apple could bring something out too).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree. I kept mine and still read on it once in a while, but I mostly reach for my iPad or phone over the paperwhite. I do use it when I’m having one of those days when I’m too distracted by other apps on my iPad. But it’s not my favorite way to read.

      Liked by 1 person

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