It's no surprise to see new Amazon Kindles launching around this time of year. What is surprising is that the company would announce the newest version of its frontlit eReader without any event or fanfare. You can probably chalk that up to today's accidental publication of the device's landing page, followed by a "hell, let's just make it official" decision. Either way, we now have the official scoop on Amazon's 2013 update to the Kindle Paperwhite.
This update to the 2nd-generation Paperwhite looks more like the incremental kind, and less like the dramatic overhaul kind. But that isn't to say there aren't some nice upgrades here. The biggest is that its frontlit screen now has higher contrast. Though resolution appears to stay the same (around 1024 x 758), it has whiter whites and blacker blacks, so its text should jump out from the page a bit more than last year's model.
The new Kindle's display also gets an updated next-generation built-in light. Amazon doesn't tell us a lot about what that means, but we're hoping it will distribute light a bit more evenly than last year's Paperwhite did.
Oh, and did we mention the speed boost? The 2013 Paperwhite also has a faster processor – 25 percent faster, according to Amazon. That won't necessarily speed up page turning (e-ink displays can only refresh so quickly), but we'll be curious to find out what kind of speed boost we see once we get a hands-on.
Other upgrades include a "19 percent tighter touch grid," which Amazon says will make it respond more accurately to small touches, upcoming Goodreads integration, and an improved Smart Lookup feature (including a full dictionary, Wikipedia, and Amazon's X-Ray). Otherwise we're looking at the same chassis, the same six-inch display, and the familiar Amazon Kindle reading experience.
So what's with the subtle announcement? We're guessing Amazon had planned on saving this for an upcoming event, but earlier today, Engadget and other outlets reported on the accidental publication of the device's landing page. At that point, when your unannounced device is leaked on your own site, making it official sounds like as good a call as any.
The updated Paperwhite costs US$119 with "special offers" and $139 for an ad-free experience. You can pre-order today, and it starts shipping on September 30. Will we hear about a new line of Kindle Fires before then? We wouldn't bet against it.