Amazon has quietly made its new Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader in the UK, after launching it in the US a month ago.

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Amazon has quietly made its new Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader in the UK, after launching it in the US a month ago.

The Kindle Paperwhite is an interesting halfway house between the two existing Kindle technologies.

The 6” screen still uses e-ink technology for the same monochromatic ink-on-paper look, but it has been improved with better contrast, greater detail and faster page turns.

The key feature, however, is a new backlight that not only makes the screen look more black-and-white than light grey-on-dark-grey, but that also allows the Kindle Paperwhite to be read in less than ideal lighting conditions — including complete darkness.

Amazon has come up with a new backlight technology that illuminates the Kindle Paperwhite from the front rather than the back (as on an iPad, for example).

This purportedly reduces glare and makes the backlit screen much less tiring too look at for long periods — which is obviously important when it comes to reading an ebook.

As with previous e-ink Kindles, Amazon reckons claims an impressive battery life for the Kindle Paperwhite — it says a single charge should be enough for up to eight weeks’ use, based on half an hour of reading per day with Wi-Fi off and the backlight set to about halfway.

Reviews of the Kindle Paperwhite have been largely positive, but there have been complaints about uneven backlighting, leading Amazon to make a statement:

“Under certain lighting conditions, the illumination at the bottom of the screen from the built-in light is not perfectly even. These variations are normal and are located primarily in the margin where text is not present. The illumination is more even than that created by a book light or lighted cover.”

Amazon has published some examples of the screen in different lighting conditions and while there are clear dark areas with the screen is set to high brightness, these only affect the bottom of the screen and not the main reading area.

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The Kindle Paperwhite has 2GB of storage and costs £109 for the Wi-Fi model and £169 for free, built-in 3G.

Anyone who’s about to place an order might do well to wait a week or two, though. Apple is rumoured to be announcing its long-rumoured iPad Mini with 7” screen in the next week or two…

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