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Kindle 'Paperwhite' e-reader has higher resolution, built-in front light

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils the new Kindle Paperwhite.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils the new Kindle Paperwhite.Rosa Golijan / NBC News

Amazon's new "Paperwhite" Kindle will be easier to read, using a display that offers a clearer screen and higher resolution. "It's really so much sharper," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told a crowd of reporters in Santa Monica Thursday.

The Kindle Paperwhite, in two versions, one at $119 with Wi-Fi only, and another at $179 with Amazon's Whispersync 3G and Wi-Fi,  will ship Oct. 1, with orders starting immediately. The e-readers weigh 7.5 ounces and are thin at 9.1 mm. The current iPad model is 9.4 mm.

"I love the light! It doesn't jump out at you. It doesn't cause any eyestrain, it doesn't even leave the screen," enthused Bezos at the event.

The new Kindle Paperwhite
The new Kindle Paperwhite.Amazon

The screen offers 25 percent more contrast than previous Kindles, Amazon said. "Whites are whiter, blacks are blacker," with 62 percent more pixels at 212 pixels per inch. It also offers an impressive 8 weeks of battery life, even with the light on, Bezos said.

"When we set out to build this Paperwhite display, it didn't exist. So we had to build it," Bezos said.

The company also had to build it to keep up with competitor Barnes & Noble's Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight, which costs $139, as well as to get a leg up on Apple's iPad, which does not have a similar feature. The hugely popular tablet does have what's known as a Retina display, with a screen resolution of 2048-by-1536.

In a release after the press event, Amazon said that the Kindle Paperwhite's built-in front light is:

... designed to be used at all times — both in daylight and in a dark room — for the clearest, crispest reading experience. In order to use the light at all times, Kindle Paperwhite requires exceptional power management to maintain the battery life that customers love about Kindle.  Amazon’s light guide technology precisely diffuses the light across the screen and only requires four LEDs to light the entire screen (unlike LCD screens which can use up to 50 LEDs).  The light guide is so efficient that Kindle Paperwhite has a remarkable 8 weeks of battery life, even with the light on at all times.

A low-end Kindle will sell for $69 — $10 less than the current lowest-priced Kindle  — and ship starting Sept. 14, with orders starting right away. That e-reader will have faster page turns, new fonts and crisper text, Amazon said.

You can learn more from Amazon about the Kindle Paperwhite here.

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