Apparently the Paperwhite is the Kindle that Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos always wanted to build. It is certainly the Kindle I always wanted to buy.
The initial concept of a digital device without a light always seemed a bit weird - it was supposed to be as much like a paperback as possible, and completely different from reading on a tablet or computer screen.
And it was, game-changingly so, back when Kindle first arrived. But it needed a light.
Enter the Paperwhite, with its uber-cool built-in light. Amazon have taken a fibre-optic cable and flattened it into a sheet then imprinted it over the Kindle screen. This means the light is distributed, via low-power LEDs, evenly across the screen and doesn't reflect or project up. All of which means it's easier to read for longer without getting sore eyes.
It sounds strange - the light is always on - but is remarkably easy to get used to; you just adjust it up or down according to how bright is the room you are in. The Paperwhite was part of a huge Amazon launch in September and while most of the US focus seemed to be on the Kindle Fire, for us in Australia, the Paperwhite was by far the most exciting aspect of the new range - that and the accompanying drop in older-model Kindle prices. (The Kindle Fire is still so far off being useful in Australia as to be pretty much redundant here, and it's a tablet you can read books on, not an ereader.)
Unfortunately, while you can happily use Paperwhite in Australia, buying one is not straightforward. So far, Amazon won't ship it here and as yet there is no Australian release date.
You can of course get your Paperwhite sent on from friends in the US or on-shipping services with the benefit of paying US prices ($US119 for the base model), which I have done and has proved problem-free. But more conveniently, local agents have also had supplies; the downside is you will pay a lot more for your device.
Paperwhites have started to pop up all over eBay, and Readershop.com.au did have the full range of new Kindles within a week of the US release, shipped overnight in Australia, with an Australian warranty and adaptors, starting at $239 for the base model. Unfortunately they are currently sold out - but then again so is Amazon.