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