Amazon today unveiled an updated version of its most popular Kindle e-reader, a sign that the tech giant continues to invest in one of its original device lines even as it branches out into completely different kinds of gadgets.
The new Kindle Paperwhite incorporates some of the features that debuted with the Kindle Oasis last year and other Kindle devices — such as waterproofing, integrations with Audible and Amazon Echo speakers and more — as well as some new capabilities.
The new $130 Paperwhite — $10 more than the current model — doubles the storage size from 4GB to 8GB, features an extra LED light to illuminate the screen and is 10 percent thinner and lighter. The revamped Paperwhite boasts a couple of new features for the Kindle lineup, such as the ability to set presets for text size, font and spacing, as well as an updated home screen.
The device goes on sale today, and it will begin shipping Nov. 7. Amazon is offering three types of cases, each in multiple colors that range from $30 to $60. In addition to the 8GB model, a 32GB Paperwhite is priced at $160 and a 32GB model with cellular connectivity goes for $250.
Allen Hughes, Amazon’s director of sales and marketing for Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets, told GeekWire in an interview that the Kindle business remains healthy, more than 10 years after its debut. Hughes said Prime Day this year was the biggest sales day ever for Kindle devices, and sales continue to rise year over year, as do total pages read.
Amazon is coming off an event at which the company showed off everything from subwoofers and amplifiers, to connected microwaves and clocks, to in-car gadgets. But the refreshed Kindle device shows that Amazon will continue to invest in one of its flagship devices. It stands out because it is free from notifications and the other distractions found on typical tablets or phones.
“Sometimes it just helps to have a single-purpose device, a single tool to do the job really well,” Hughes said.
Paperwhite represents the mid-point of Amazon’s Kindle lineup. It’s got more features than the $79 Kindle, such as a higher resolution screen with lights, but not as many bells and whistles as the $249 Kindle Oasis.
Hughes says the waterproofing protects the device well beyond an accidental water spill. It is certified to be submerged in up to approximately six feet of water, and the team tested out a variety of scenarios such as dropping it in a bathtub or getting soaked by a major splash.
“We try to be more practical than just to meet some standard that might not be how you’d use the product,” Hughes said.