I apparently got a non-defective unit. My PW has no splotches or hues. I can see the shadows between the LED castings, but they're not pronounced enough to be distracting (YMMV). I am disappointed that Amazon's product photos don't show the shadows. I think a lot of the backlash against the PW stems from the disparity between Amazon's idealized screen images and the PW's screen in the real world.
But I'll risk the fanboy epithet and say that I love the PW. Amazon misrepresented the screen, but I still don't see a compelling alternative. I don't like the aspect ratio of the GlowLight, I don't like the grey background of previous e-ink Kindles, I don't like the unresponsiveness of the Fire, I don't like the weight of the iPad-which I use in other context, but not for extended handheld reading. Even though the sidelighting doen't distribute light as evenly as Amazon would like us to believe, it's still much more even than an externally attached light, and without the glare.