It turns out a lot of people read in bed or in the dark. About a year ago, Amazon announced its Kindle Paperwhite, an e-reader with a built-in light. Despite tons of tablets and smart phones, the device has become one of the company's best-selling e-readers, but all good things can get better, the company announced Tuesday.
The new version of the Paperwhite, which will be available later this month and starts at $119, has been spruced up with a higher-contrast display, better touchscreen, quicker page turns and a faster processor. In a side-by-side demonstration for ABC News, the text on the E Ink screen did appear darker and the page turns were noticeably faster than the last generation. The actual design of the reader and the built-in light remains the same.
- New Kindle Paperwhite will start at $119 and ship later this month
- Now pages turns faster, screen is crisper
- New software features are focused on learning
However, it's not just the hardware that's gotten some clear improvements. Amazon has added a slew of new software features.
One called Page Flip allows you to view another page in a book without leaving the current page you are on. Think of it as a digital version of sticking your arm or hand on the current page you are on, except here you get a book within the book. A small pop-up appears over the current page you are on and lets you navigate to other pages. Amazon says this is helpful for those who are always going back to other pages in the book.
Another feature called Vocabulary Builder keeps a log of all the words you have looked up in the books you've read. A small Vocabulary Builder shortcut will appear on the homescreen. When selected, it takes you to a list of the words and definitions. And if you want to really learn those words, you can turn them into digital flashcards.
Building on some of those education or student-focused features, Amazon is also adding its FreeTime service to the device. Similar to FreeTime on the Kindle Fire HD, parents can set up a profile for kids so they can control the content. The service also creates a report for parents with information about what their kids were reading and for how long. The FreeTime feature and Amazon's Good Reads integration, which adds a social layer to reading, will be added a few months after the new device ships.
A number of the features are clearly aimed at education, though Amazon's Vice President of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said the features were created with "children of all ages" in mind. He also added that many of these additions may come to the Kindle app versions for the iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows.
"If you have other hardware, other tablets we want to make the Kindle experience great there too."
"We have a good track record of taking great features and bringing them to a lot of the other platforms," Grandinetti told ABC News. "If you have other hardware, other tablets, we want to make the Kindle experience great there too."
Of course, you can't always read on those tablets and phones in bed without emitting a light halo and waking up the person next to you.