A Breakdown of Optimal Glow Levels on the Kindle Paperwhite

By Kat Kasel

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It’s been a few months now since I unwrapped my Kindle Paperwhite and resumed a life of reading for pleasure.  I don’t mean to get all mushy here, but I’m a girl in love.

The PaperWhite is the perfect blend between book and tablet and encourages actual reading like no device I’ve ever owned. I carry it with me everywhere and I show it off to strangers whenever anyone inquires about it.

The best thing about the PaperWhite though, is the glow that gives it its name. The backlight is soothing, convenient, and doesn’t seem to drain the battery much at all which is a huge plus. It makes it easy to read anytime, anywhere despite limited lighting.

Here is my breakdown of the different glow intensities and the optimal environment for each level.

No glow to low glow (0%-25%)


When do you use this? A very dark room. When it’s 3 am and you’re struck with a bout of insomnia but your bed partner is dead asleep, that’s when you break out the low glow. You need a little something (unless you’re a superhero and can see in the dark) but it takes only the slightest touch of glow to backlight the screen enough so you can read.

Low glow to middle glow (25%-50%)


When do you use this? Outside, cloudy day. A cloudy day usually means there is still a decent amount of light to read by, but because the sun is behind several layers of condensation, there is no glare. Using the PaperWhite outside on a gray day is actually my favorite environment because the screen is as visible and glare-free as a real book.

Middle glow to high glow (50%-75%)


When do you use this? Airplanes at night (or some place indoors where there is equally terrible lighting). You know that awkward, middling amount of light where the cabin lights are dimmed and you have the personal light above you aimed on a very specific area that pretty much misses your seat entirely? This is where the mid-glow to high-glow is ideal. The light above you tends to create a sun-like glare on the tablet screen but the surrounding area is dark and impossible to read in. The trick is to shift the Kindle out of the direct light, into the dimmer area (maybe over by an arm rest) and then up the glow until it’s about 65-75%. Ahhhh… perfection.

Full glow (75%-100%)


When do you use this? Outside, bright sunshine-y day. The full glow is what sets the PaperWhite apart from other tablets with more traditional computer screens. My biggest issue with the Kindle Fire and even the iPad is that, on a gorgeous, sunny day, it’s impossible to see your screen in direct sunlight. The PaperWhite changes everything. You can sit outside, with the sun beating down on you, a glow to your screen then seemingly reflects sunlight, and read as clearly as you could a piece of paper. It’s truly miraculous.

The touch screen on the Kindle PaperWhite is so responsive that it’s easy to toggle back and forth between different backlight intensities. You can decide what works best for you and adjust the glow level depending on the situation.

For me, the glow has transformed my attitude towards eBooks and I’ve developed a real crush on my Kindle.

What’s your favorite thing about the Kindle PaperWhite?

About Kat Kasel
Kat is a freelance writer and media associate for a digital marketing company in Washington, DC. She loves reading and writing but 'rithmatic? Not so much.

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