Amazon's helmsman Jeff Bezos took to a stage on Thursday to announce the company's refreshed Kindle lineup. While Bezos focused mostly on the tablet side of things, he did have some good news for those of us who still like to read: the front-lit Kindle Paperwhite.
In my review of Barnes & Noble's Nook with Glowlight, I said that "any e-reader that comes out now without an answer to the Glowlight will feel like it's missing a feature." Well, Amazon didn't drop the ball here: its Glowlight-like tech will allow readers to brighten their screens without having to use an extra peripheral, which was the norm until Nook with Glowlight rendered such add-ons obsolete. That's not to say that Amazon lifted the idea from Barnes & Noble — besides being an inevitable development, Engadget's Brian Heater reports that Amazon spent upward of "four years in R&D" in-house on its front-lit screen.
On top of its new, glowy face, Kindle Paperwhite has a higher resolution screen for crisper text, and Amazon promises that "whites are whiter" and "blacks are blacker" thanks to a higher contrast ratio. While that may not look like much on paper, Gizmodo's Casey Chan seemed to enjoy the new screen, writing that the "Kindle Paperwhite's screen is so awesome you wouldn't believe it's e-ink. Hell, I just saw it and I still don't believe it."
The Paperwhite also ditches physical buttons for a touch-only interface, and enjoys a new matte black paint job and, as you'd expect, is slimmer and lighter than the Kindle before it. While all that sounds well and good, by all reports it's the Paperwhite's crisp new display that could win the day for the e-reader.
You can order a Paperwhite today for $119. That's for a Wi-Fi model, though Amazon will also offer a 3G model for $179. Both ship on October 1.