Are Kindles Backlit?

By Jennifer Leighton

The Kindle e-reader can store stacks of books in memory.
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The Amazon Kindle debuted in 2007 and quickly captured the attention of avid readers, selling out in just 5.5 hours on its release day. In the years since, Amazon has introduced a steady stream of new Kindle types and models; however, until the debut of the Kindle Fire in 2011, none of the Kindles featured backlighting.

Backlit Kindles

The Kindle models in in the Kindle Fire series are the only Kindle models with backlighting. The original Kindle Fire, introduced in 2011, was the first Kindle to feature backlighting and a color touchscreen. This model was followed by the Kindle Fire HD, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch and the Kindle Fire HD 4g LTE 8.9 inch models in 2012. All Kindle Fire models are full color touchscreen Kindles with backlighting. The smaller Kindle Fire models are 7 inches and the larger models are 8.9 inches, with storage capacity options of 16, 32 and 64GB.

E-Ink Pearl Kindles Without Backlight

The first three generations of E-Ink Pearl Kindles do not feature a backlight. These E-Ink Pearl technology Kindles feature a display that is meant to replicate the printed page in electronic form as closely as possible. The Kindle, Kindle 2, Kindle DX, Kindle 3, Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard models all belong to this group, and none of these models have lighting of any type. The lack of backlighting leads some users to attach an external book light for reading in low-light situations.

E-Ink Pearl Kindle With Frontlighting

The Kindle PaperWhite, a late 2012 addition to the Kindle family, is different from other Kindle types due to its front-lighting. The PaperWhite display is E-Ink, similar to earlier non-Fire Kindle types. The PaperWhite, however, has 62 percent more pixels for higher resolution and 25 percent higher contrast than former E-Ink Kindles. The other E-Ink Kindles are neither back-lit nor lit by any other type of light, so the PaperWhite's ability to create a "perfect reading experience in all lighting conditions" using lighting from above makes it unique.

Battery Life Differences

The battery life differs greatly between Kindle backlit models and the non-backlit models. The Kindle Fire battery life ranges from 8.5 to 11 hours with continuous use, with the Kindle Fire HD models lasting longer. The non-backlit Kindles, however, have a battery life ranging from three weeks up to eight weeks with the wireless turned off, with the Kindle DX lasting the shorter time and the Kindle Keyboard 3G and Kindle PaperWhite lasting for longer periods.