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REVIEW: Kindle 3

Kindle 3 is the latest generation of eink device from Amazon. It is small and thin and quite a bit cheaper than the previous Kindles.   In fact, the K3 wi-fi only is one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) 6″ eink reader on the market.   The pluses for me are the size, weight, and feel of the K3.   The refresh rate is definitely faster and the screen clarity is visibly improved. The cons are the lack of number keys which makes entering passwords a pain; no “go to” button (this is accessed through the menu); no TOC button; and a fairly inept experimental web browser.

NEW FEATURES

You now have a choice between serif and non serif font typeface. There is voice control for the menus (I did not get this to work and there are no good instructions for this at the Amazon site). The device is smaller but the screen size is the same only 50% better contrast (or so Amazon proclaims). There is twice as much storage and supposedly has better battery life.   The screen refresh rate is faster.   One of the best new “features” is the lower price.   The new Kindle 3 comes in wifi at $139 and 3g+wifi at $189.   I bought the 3G because I travel quite a bit but if you plan to do most of your ebook shopping at home, then the wifi would probably suit you just fine.

LOOK AND FEEL

I ordered the graphite version instead of the white because I thought the darker color would make the screen appear more white.   I am not sure if this is truly the case, but I do like the graphite. I think it is less prone to discoloration than my white kindle.   The back of the kindle sports a rubbery backing which makes one more secure when holding the device.   It’s a smooth back, but there is some resistance.   The K3 is less than one-half inch shorter than the K2 and about three quarters of an inch less in width.   The K3 is thinner but not noticeably so.   The K3 weighs quite a bit less and is on par with the lightest devices on the market.

Weight:

  • Kobo Reader 7.8 oz
  • Sony Pocket Edition 7.76 (screen size only 5″)
  • nook 12.1
  • Kindle 3 7.8 oz

It has a nice solid feel to it and reminded me of the feel of the Sony Pocket Edition (only not as pretty).   Overall, I think the Kindle 3 in terms of look and feel is a big upgrade over the Kindle 2.

THE SCREEN CLARITY

This is a short video that shows the difference between the refresh rate of the Kindle 2 v. Kindle 3.

The screen contrast is supposed to be 50% better.   I don’t think it’s 50% better but it is better, particularly in the sun.   The letters are more distinctly shaped as well as the screen having a lighter gray background. (Click on picture for larger image).

USER INTERFACE

1) The buttons. I am thrilled that the joystick is gone but the small rocker is hard to get used to.   The page turns no longer make an audible click but after reading two books on them, I wonder if they will break off.   I wish they didn’t have so much give.   I definitely like their smaller size because in the past when you grabbed your K2, you often advanced the pages by accident because the page turn buttons were so large. I also appreciate that there are forward and backward buttons on each side instead of just on the left as was the layout in the K2.

buttons

2) Keyboard. Because the screen refresh is faster, it makes the typing of notes a little less frustrating but the kindle bubble keyboard will never be my favorite. I am often hitting the wrong buttons and unlike the iPhone/iTouch (and even the Sony 600), there is no predictive word choices or automatic spelling for you. I usually just type and don’t worry about corrections as long as the word is recognizable but that is hardly optimal.

Keyboard

The number row has been removed to shorten the Kindle. Instead, you must press ALT + the top row to access the numbers or press the Sym to access the symbol menu. The symbol menu can stay open while you use the keyboard. I do think that with the extra space taken away that the keyboard is a little easier to use but the keyboard isn’t a high point of any of the Kindles and it’s not been   improved upon in this version.

3) Switches. All the inputs and switches are at the bottom of the device.   The power switch has been moved from the top to the bottom and the volume switch was moved from the side to the bottom.   The headphone (which was at the top), the mic and the micro usb plugin are all at the bottom.

BATTERY LIFE
I haven’t wore out the battery yet. I’ll report on the Kindle 3 Cover with light and the battery life next week.

EXPERIMENTAL BROWSER

The Kindle 3 sports a webkit browser which is supposed to do a better job of rendering pages.   Don’t go to Dear Author because it crashed my Kindle 3 each time I attempted to load it. I had better results with sites like Twitter or Google or even Gmail because of the lack of images.   I powered up IbisReader because IbisReader allows you to upload DRM free ePubs and read them on the web.

The IbisReader actually looked fairly decent although the letters were crisper and looked more like a native book in the Article Mode.   The problem was in Article Mode, you couldn’t access any links.   In order to move to the next chapter, you would have to switch to Web Mode.

WebMode
ArticleMode

Click on the thumbnails for larger images. The first one is article mode and the second is web mode. The benefit to this is that you can read your epubs (DRM free) via the Kindle but only by using IbisReader. Otherwise, you’ll need to convert your epubs to mobi. This does give you some insight on how you will be able to access the Google Editions cloud from a Kindle device as well. Problematically, is that currently there is no caching of content so you would a) always need access to the internet and b) have to reload a book each time you visited the web. Not ideal.

THINGS I WISH THAT THERE WERE SHORTCUTS FOR

You can move from chapter to chapter by pressing the left and right arrows in the five way (or the rocker as I call it) and make a bookmark by pressing ALT + B and bring up the Kindle store by pressing ALT + HOME but I can’t figure out an easy way to pull up the table of contents. It would be nice if we were allowed to create our own keyboard shortcuts instead of simply being allotted a few that the Kindle engineers think would be useful.

In sum, there is a lot to like about the Kindle 3 like the lower price, the nicer feel and the better contrast. There are still a lot of areas in which the Kindle 3 can be improved like implementing a better keyboard and allowing more reader customization.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. FionaChan
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 04:20:36

    Very detailed and nice review! I don’t like those keyboard as well, they’re not pretty and not comfortable. How I wish they ship Kindle to my country, and my parents would buy one. I hate reading ebooks with laptop

  2. Portia Da Costa
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 05:37:40

    Thanks for the detailed review of the new Kindle 3. I feel very glad I’ve ordered one. :)

    I was expecting there to be some little niggles with it, as I don’t suppose any device or gadget can be entirely perfect, but I think I can live with the ones you’ve picked up on. My only experience of an ereader so far is my Sony 505 [which I do like] so any keyboard will be a plus, even if it’s not exactly the ideal one.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the improved screen contrast, as that was one of the things that shocked me when I first got the 505. All the adverts etc showed a brilliant white screen… and the grey on grey wasn’t quite what I expected. I quickly got used to it, and do find it easy on the eyes, but I think I’ll appreciate the better clarity of the Kindle 3.

  3. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 07:51:47

    The page-turning buttons cracking was a big issue for many of the nooks, but at least we (nook owners) have the option of using the touch screen swipe to turn the pages (which I’ve trained my husband to do).

    I desperately want the graphite Kindle3, but when it comes time to click the buy button, I’ve managed to remind myself in time I’ve had two e-ink reading devices and still keep returning to my iPod Touch.

    Now that my husband, who was barely a reader at all, has taken custody of the nook and become a voracious reader, I thought maybe buying him one for his birthday would be a good excuse to have one in the house, but yesterday I showed him the Kindle2 at Target and he didn’t like it.

    He’s got blue-collar hands (big, rough, callused, not a great sense of touch left) and he said the Kindle felt too delicate and fragile to him. He’d be nervous about cracking it and, since the Kindle3 has shaved off some size, he’d probably like it less. The nook’s beefier all around (size-wise) and, in the m-Edge Executive cover, it’s too bulky and heavy for me, but it feels substantial in his hands and he likes it.

    So we’ll remain Kindle-free, unless something happens to my impulse control. (Most people worry about drunk dialing. I fear drunk Kindle buying.)

  4. CourtneyLee
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 08:59:08

    Great review! My K3 should be arriving tomorrow and this review makes me feel even better about it. It will be my first dedicated ereading device, so I think anything will be an improvement on reading from my laptop. Now all I have to do is figure out how to prop it up so I can read and knit at the same time, which I love to do.

  5. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 09:05:01

    @CourtneyLee: Those curved plastic $2.00 business card holders from Staples are all the rage as iPad stands. You could probably grab one for a Kindle, too.

  6. Jayne
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 10:16:02

    Don't go to Dear Author because it crashed my Kindle 3 each time I attempted to load it.

    Oh noes! We’re not K3 compatible.

  7. hapax
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 10:18:17

    I really really hate the idea of an e-reader so closely tied to the Amazon behemoth, but as my spouse starts to do more and more travelling with less and less luggage space, I’ve been gradually weakening.

    For me, the battery life will probably be the deciding factor. I’ve heard rumors that the K3 has hella battery life (like, a month!), which if true, probably will make it irresistible.

    Looking forward to the follow-up report.

  8. Jill Shalvis
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 10:30:12

    I have been on the fence for a long time. I hate giving Amazon all my buying power. Plus I’ve used a Sony Touch and have had no complaints — but when it died last week, I caved and ordered the K3 wifi only. It’s on back order … Can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

  9. Sunita
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 12:18:22

    I was loyal to Sony from the 505 to the Daily Edition, but I finally caved and bought a Kindle DX this summer. The idea was to use it for pdfs, but I wind up reading regular fiction on it much more than I expected. After the Sony store, the Amazon store is a dream to use (talk about drunk buying).

    The DX has the same screen quality as the K3 and I find I can use it in pretty low light. I still use the Daily Edition, but the screen difference (b/c of the touch layer) is just huge.

  10. Ridley
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 12:25:43

    I’m sorely tempted to get this as a lighter alternative to my heavy Sony Touch, but I’m going to be strong and see what Sony comes out with in October. I’d prefer to stick with epub if I can.

  11. CourtneyLee
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 12:47:16

    @Shannon Stacey: Thanks, Shannon! I had a feeling something like that was around. I’m all for repurposing cheap items. And if it can hold the iPad, it will definitely hold the Kindle.

  12. Mikaela
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 13:23:30

    I was very tempted since it is *cheap*, but someone from Denmark ( I am in Sweden) posted the total cost ( shipping, duty, etc)over at Mobileread. It wasn’t 139-190 dollar, it was 350 dollar. Which is what an e-reader costs here. That killed my intrest. Oi. Oh well. I’ll wait. My Sony still works, plus it is less than a year old.

  13. diremommy
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 13:33:00

    People keep talking about giving all their buying power to Amazon. You don’t have to buy books from Amazon to read on your Kindle, you can buy them from anywhere so long as they aren’t DRMed and are in the correct format. Even if they AREN’T in the correct format, if you have a program like Calibre, you can convert it to a Kindle ready format.

    I buy books direct from publishers (Dreamspinner, Loose-id, Samhain) and from lots of other websites- allromance ebooks, books on board, and so many others. It seems to be a very widespread idea that you are tied only to Amazon for books for life, but that’s totally not the case.

  14. Dan
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 13:48:53

    Just curious, does the improved contrast make it easier to read with the Kindle at night in a room that isn’t flooded with light? Or is that still an issue?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  15. CourtneyLee
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 16:27:27

    @diremommy: I buy from sites like that all the time, too. I already have several books ready to either email to my Kindle (gonna see how a pdf converts via email; hope it works out) or sideload via USB, maybe using Calibre. Also, I think you can strip DRM with easy-to-get software, and it might even be legal under certain circumstances. And even if it isn’t, personally, I won’t feel bad stripping DRM if I bought the book and I’m the only one reading it. It’s like breaking into your own house when you don’t have your keys.

    I know several people who have Kindles who rarely buy from Amazon.

  16. Jane
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 19:37:18

    @Dan I haven’t received my booklight yet, so I have only been reading with the bedside lamp and that’s pretty bright so I’ve had no problems so far.

  17. Becky
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 20:08:26

    Interesting comparisons there. I still have my Kindle 1, which is running great after two years. I have to admit that I do still like that in Kindle 1 you can put in a memory card to hold your books. It’s not that I don’t trust Amazon to hold them for me, but it’s nice if I’m on a plane and I want to access them and can’t jump on. I do like the size of the newest one, but will probably run my Kindle 1 into the ground (to get my money’s worth) and see what cool new twists it takes over the next several years!

  18. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 20:54:15

    I’m really looking forward to getting mine in a week or so! Thanks for the review, Jane, clear and the pics are excellent, so I’m looking forward to it even more. Especially as my dear old ipaq is finally getting tired and refusing to do as it’s told.
    Actually, I designed and made two covers for my new baby, so I put the instructions up on my site, in case anyone else fancies a go.
    As soon as I can work out how to get pictures off my Blackberry and on to my new computer without the cable, which I’ve mislaid somewhere, I’ll put some more pictures up. I snapped a few while I was making them, but they’re still on the phone.
    I found the Kindle covers either outrageously expensive or boring or just not nice. I wanted something pretty, and something that felt good to touch. And somewhere to keep my little book light, and my light wedge. I’ll decide which light I like best when I get it. Anyone used the paperback-sized light wedge with the Kindle? Any good?
    http://lynneconnolly.com/KindleCovers.html

  19. Doreen R
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 23:20:44

    I loved your review. I want one soooo bad.

  20. Maria Zannini
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 06:29:26

    I always appreciate the reviews on DR regardless of the topic, but I have to say the reviews on tech are the absolute best.

    Clear, concise and it tells me what I need to know to make an informed decision.

    Thank you!

  21. Melissa
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 08:17:15

    I am loving the new K3! I had an original Kindle and am amazed at how much easier it is to read with the increased contrast. The screen looks much brighter and the words seem so clear. I also love how much quicker the pages turn, it makes reading quicker and easier (I hated waiting for the page to turn on the K1). I am also enjoying the collections, it’s so much nicer to have my books organized.

    I am so glad I got the K3, I am loving it so far and it’s a big improvement over the K1.

  22. Terry Odell
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 09:45:38

    I really really REALLY want some kind of night/back light. I’ve had the eBookwise for years now, and when you wake up at 2 AM and can’t get to sleep and want to read, the built-in back light is a must. Bedside lamps are too bright (and disturb sleeping partners). That’s definitely going to be a ‘must have’ feature on whatever reader I end up with when I retire my dinosaur.

    Terry
    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

  23. BH
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 19:51:27

    My 3G Kindle will be here on Friday. I’ll have to wait until next week to play with it since I’ll be traveling for work.

  24. BH
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 23:01:02

    Mine will arrive Friday. Sadly, I’m working out of town, and won’t be able to play with it until week.

  25. Monday Morning Stepback: Teaching Romance, Blogger Fragmentation, Kitchen Redo « Read React Review
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 11:08:03

    […] with a very concise review and Jane of Dear Author getting her geek on with not just a detailed K3 review, but a second review dedicated to the Kindle cover with integrated light. I love my Kindle, and am […]

  26. BH
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 20:40:58

    Update: My K3 3G arrived last Friday when I was out of town and didn't get to it until Monday night. It came almost fully charged and pre-registered. Sweet. I have a nook that use regularly and bought the K3 mainly for the family. The Collections feature on the K3 is nice for library management. The nook is lacking in that department. The K3 doesn't have page numbers like the nook, which I need, but has a progress bar in percents. When I read, I think in page numbers, not percents. I know page numbers aren't exact with ereaders, but it's close. The dictionary feature is easier to use in the K3. I felt the K3 was too thin to read one handed without slipping. The guys in the family also have a problem with the dainty feel, so I added a cover which helped. I don't like the flash of black on the K3 when turning pages. The nook page transition is slower, but doesn't have the flash of black which I still haven't gotten use to yet after reading 2 books. The K3 also freezes up when turning on/off the wifi having to reboot each time. I think I'll need a replacement, and will call Amazon tomorrow. Nook freezes up on occasion too. With the nook, I can use library ebooks. Converting epub books for use on the K3 hasn't been a problem, and they look great. It's just time consuming.

    We're keeping the K3. It's a great ereader. Everyone likes it including myself. I don't think the Kindle is any better than the nook or vice versa. Just different. The kids are wanting a color ereader for comics and such, so we might add one of those to our collection after the first of the year.

    Thanks Jane!

  27. sigma
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 14:18:36

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