Amazon Kindle 3 Review
Amidst speculations of the Kindle losing out to the iPod and other players in the eReader market, Amazon has fortified its position with the launch of its third generation reader’s tablet – Kindle 3. Even though Kindle was always a fairly popular eReader, the Kindle 3 has raised the bar. It is not only affordably priced at $139 but also packs an envious set of features that make it a strong contender of Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Sony, and other web tablet manufacturers.
Contrary to expectations, Kindle 3 is not colored. Nor does it have a touchscreen. Instead, Amazon has channeled all the savings in that area into making the device 20% smaller while retaining the 4.8×7.5 inch screen size, 15% lighter which really adds to its portability, Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities, 4GB memory – almost double its predecessors, reduced glare, faster refresh rate, and more.
The Kindle 3 is highly streamlined – about 0.3 inches thick and weighing just 8.5 ounces. The screen size comfortably displays a page of 6 inches diagonal length. The text is dark and sharp – highly readable. Amazon has used 16 shades of gray on its E-Ink screen. The back is rubberized, making it non-slippery and comfortable to hold. The model is available in white and graphite. A memory of 4GB (3.3 GB usable) allows you to save up to 3500 books.
The keyboard is located at the bottom. They keys are smaller than its predecessors but you get used to it. The number row is replaced by a button for accessing symbols and numbers. The four-way navigator button allows you to move the cursor either way. Navigation keys to turn pages are also present on the sides of the screens as before. The sliding power switch below activates or deactivates the device.
On the down side, there is no expansion slot for extending memory. The four-way navigation button is quite small and tricky. It is easy to mistakenly hit the cursor keys while pressing the Menu and Home keys and vice versa. The ultra-low power E Ink Pearl electronic paper display leads to ghost text from previous screens but not very noticeably. The battery is sealed into the device and cannot be removed. A carrying case is not provided with the device.
Features and functions
Despite not having touchscreen facilities, the Kindle 3 is an ideal eReader. The high contrast screen with reduced glare allows you to read text in bright daylight and low light environments. You can easily read books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs from Amazon’s library that stocks over 700,000 books for sale and almost a million others to download and read for free.
PDFs are now inherently supported. If you have some books in the eBook format, you can upload them into your device with the USB connection. For a small fee, you can even send word docs to an email ID and have them converted to PDF and uploaded to your Kindle automatically. You can convert other formats to Kindle-friendly formats with third party software. For the rest, you have the Kindle store from where you can download books in seconds.
You have greater flexibility on fonts, spacing, and words per line. The Kindle 3 supports eight fonts including two new extra-large sized ones. You can highlight sections and add notes. The sync function allows you to save your place and continue reading on your smartphone, iPod, or PC when required.
Kindle 3 comes with Wi-Fi that allows you to connect to Amazon’s store at home or any AT&T hotspot. With 3G, you can be connected to the internet all the time. Amazon also includes an Experimental option which has a web browser, an MP3 player, and a Text-to-Speech function to start listening from any place in the book.
The Kindle still does not support ePUB format though, which is disappointing. You cannot lend books either – a handy feature of the Nook. You can’t read in the dark as the display is passive. You can buy the $60 case which has a backlight but that’s a rather pricey alternative.
The battery backup of Kindle 3 is four weeks without Wi-Fi turned on. With Wi-Fi, it’s three. Not bad. The device gets fully charged in 4.5 hours too.
There is still a small delay in refreshing pages. This flaw becomes more apparent when you want to go back several pages quickly. The interface for newspapers and magazines could also do with some improvement. Elements that include colors don’t look so good.
The Kindle 3 with in-built Wi-Fi capabilities is a steal at $139. With 3G, the price goes up $50 but even then it is a good bargain. The case which includes a backlight is not part of the cost; it comes separately for $60. It also adds bulk to the otherwise sleek and portable Kindle.
The other thing is the cost of the books. They are equally or only marginally cheaper than paperbacks. So don’t be under the misconception that an eReader will save you money in this regard. There is a good range of books available at the Kindle store so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Amazon also gives you the choice to check out a book first by reading a few chapters and then purchasing it if you like it. If you accidently delete a book, you can download it again free of cost.
As an eReader, the Kindle 3 is the best thing on the market at that price point and set of features. The battery life will keep you going for weeks without bothering to charge the device. The size and weight make it a nifty gadget to carry around and Wi-Fi allows you to top up your book list almost anywhere. If your aim is only to have a good reading experience, Amazon’s Kindle 3 is the perfect choice.