Today at Amazon’s Kindle event in Los Angeles, we got a chance to get our hands on the new Kindle paperwhite and the new Kindle Fire HD 7″ models and generate some first impressions. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ flavor was restricted to executives only, so we had Amazon’s head of Kindles Peter Larsen demonstrate it for us, that will come in just a few, but for now we have a look at the paperwhite.

The Kindle paperwhite is a gorgeous addition to Amazon’s Kindle lineup. It features a fiber-optic-like lighting array that keeps the screen bright, but aims away from your eyes, to prevent the fatigue so commonly associated with LCDs. It’s really a fantastic take on lighting a screen and, at least in initial testing, it works extremely well.

IMG 7103 520x346 Hands on with Amazons new front lit Kindle paperwhite: A brilliant lighting solution and great touch

The Kindle Paperlight, as is usual for these devices, incredibly light. It’s designed to disappear in the hand so that you concentrate on the reading material at hand.

IMG 7105 520x346 Hands on with Amazons new front lit Kindle paperwhite: A brilliant lighting solution and great touch

The biggest upgrade to the paperwhite, outside of the front light, is that it’s a capacitive touch screen, instead of resistive or infrared-sensor-based like the previous Touch model. This makes the touch response very, very good. There is some tiny bit of lag here and there, largely having to do with the display more than touch actions, but overall it’s magnificent. Changing the brightness of the display, for instance, is a smooth operation as you slide your finger up and down the screen.

IMG 7106 520x346 Hands on with Amazons new front lit Kindle paperwhite: A brilliant lighting solution and great touch

This looks like a fantastic addition to the Kindle lineup and will likely become the standard for all Kindles as the price of manufacturing goes down.

The new Kindle Paperwhite is only $119. Kindle Paperwhite is available for pre-order and ships October 1. Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi + 3G is available for pre-order starting today and also ships October 1 for $179.

For more, check out our roundup of everything you need to know about today’s event. We’ll have a video overview of all the models soon.