It's too early to say with any certainty whether the poor reports reflect unique screens or the average production quality, but they could be enough to give a potential buyer pause.
For example, in the comment section of my first impressions post yesterday I noted that:
I can’t explain why the screen is worse. To be completely honest I think the new Kindle has a poorer screen than my 2012 KPW (a pearl to Pearl comparison). The newer device is noticeably browner than the older unit.
Another early adopter left a similar comment:
I was expecting a kindle touch that is more responsive, which yes this is it. But the screen is awful. While the pearl screen on the previous kindle basic was fantastic, this one has inferior contrast. Under strong light, the previous kindle looks like it has a white background. Not true of this one.
Another new owner commented on MobileRead:
The screen comparison is correct, the new basic has an inferior screen. The contrast is significantly lower than the K4 black. I received mine today. Disappointed with the screen.
A different MobileRead Forum member dropped by a BB and checked out the demo units:
The screen background is the same "whiteness." The fonts on the New Kindle Basic are lighter and have less contrast. These pictures don't show it too well, but my daughter was with me and there was a noticeable difference. The New Basic Kindle comes somewhere between the Kindle Touch and Old Basic Kindle (K4BNT). Not horrible, but the fonts are not as sharp and dark on the NKT as they are on the K4BNT.
At this point you might think that it's time to take the new Kindle out back and shoot it, but not everyone is complaining about the new screen.
Len Edgerly posted a video yesterday. He doesn't report that the new screen is worse than the screen on the Kindle which was replaced, though he also doesn't report that it is any better.
And then there's the report from my competitor. he posted several photos which show the older Kindle Touch, a Paperwhite, the new Kindle, and the recently retired basic Kindle. He says that he can't see any difference. Can you?
I can't see the difference in his photos, but I can see a difference between the Kindles on my desk. That is why I agree with haydnfan over at MobileRead when he said "Take no photo even this one as evidence one way or the other. You have to see for yourself. All of these photos are effectively lies."
So did you get the new Kindle? How do you think it compares?