Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review - Kindle 3 First Impressions

After what seems like months, a new Graphite 6" Wifi Kindle 3 arrived at my door last week. As an avid book reader I've considered a Kindle since the first model, but the time (and price) never seemed quite right. With the announcement of the next generation model at just $139 for a Wifi model, the wait was over, and I pre-ordered it the day it was announced.

The latest generation Kindle is a marvelous device that really sets a new standard in electronic reading devices. The improvements seen in the new model at a price of just $139 for the wi-fi version make this a remarkable bargain. I've read Kindle books on the iPhone, iPad and PC but have held off until now on a dedicated e-reader due to the price. With the arrival of the Kindle this afternoon, I'm very glad I waited for this third generation. The details have been reviewed and discussed in great detail, but I'll highlight what I've seen already that make this such a great unit.

  • Setup including secure Wifi access was incredibly simple 
  • The new high-contrast e-Ink screen is really great for reading. I had seen this mentioned in reviews, but the difference between the dedicated e-Ink screen and LCD screens like on the iPad is night and day. 
  • The page turn speed is much better than in earlier models of the Kindle. After seeing a first generation Kindle of a friend I thought I would never get a Kindle. As a fast reader, the delay and flicker in earlier models was terrible. While not completely gone, it's no longer a deal-breaker. The combination of the e-Ink screen with the graphite case really does improve the contrast and readability tremendously. 
  • New fonts - having choice over serif or sans serif and the ability to use a compressed font is great. Even better is the ability to adjust the line-spacing so you have much more control over how much text is present on a page. For a 6" unit this is so important. 
  • Text-to-speech - this worked surprisingly well, with the option to speed up or slow down the voice, or choose a male or female voice, was very nice. You can pause/restart speech with a tap of the space bar. 
  • Smaller design. While the screen size is identical to the Kindle 2, it's about a half-inch less all around or 21% less area. It's really small, portable, and crazy-thin, while having a lot more reading area than the iPhone. I almost went with the DX model out of fear it would not be much better than reading on my phone, but after reading a whole book tonight, it was far superior. 
  • PDF support is greatly improved - another reason I'm glad I waited for this new model. With Kindle books there is also instant word look-up via included dictionary, tightly integrated. (I still prefer a larger screen like the iPad for PDF's)
  • Social network support - not a big deal for some, but the ability to select a sentence or two and instantly send them plus a comment to Twitter or Facebook is pretty handy. 
  • Battery life looks to be superb; download speeds over wi-fi are great; it has ability to play MP3s, even in the background while reading; and it even has a built-in web browser (not wonderful, but nice to have in a pinch). 

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the Apple iPad, the Amazon Kindle 3, and the Apple iPhone. The iPad screen size is much larger than the Kindle 3 (but is very similar to the Kindle DX model). The Kindle screen may not seem significantly larger than the iPhone, but it's much easier to read and covers a lot more text on a given page. Battery lives are 10 hours with iPhone/iPad but up to one month with the Kindle. The latter works great in bright light and direct sunlight, but not in the dark. The iPad is the opposite. The iPad excels at PDFs and for night reading. The Kindle is far better for extended reading.

How do these compare with a laptop? Here's a picture of the same devices alongside a MacBook Pro. That's a 15" laptop by the way, not the 17" boat anchor!

If you're an avid reader who has stayed away from the Kindle for reasons of price, screen quality, size, or page turn speed, stay away no more! The new Kindle, especially the Graphite Wifi model, is a great unit. It also comes in classic White, and there is a 3G model for $189, if you need to be able to download new books anywhere-anytime, or if you don't have a smart phone and would like something with light web browsing capability.

As an added bonus, you can install free Kindle reading software on your PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad or Android, and read any Kindle books you buy on other devices - whether you have an actual Kindle device or not. I had bought several Kindle books and read them on the iPad before getting my Kindle. With the iPhone I have always-with-me access, the iPad is great for late night reading or color books, and the Kindle is great for extended or outdoors reading.

If you're a Kindle book fan, be sure to follow the Kindle Review blog / web site which highlights discounted books and limited time offers of free Kindle books.

I have to give a shout out and huge thanks to the Going To Seminary website which sponsored a contest for seminary students with a new Kindle as the prize. I was one of the lucky winners, and wrote three articles on Maximizing your Learning ExperienceLife Doesn't Get Easier, and Getting It All Done. The timing was perfect, as the next generation model came out just as the awards were being made. Alas, classes are almost over for me at Rockbridge Seminary... maybe I'll need to enroll again after I finish for another degree?!  :)

So... what are you reading, and how?


Larry Baxter said...

One questions someone asked me: "What about highlighting and bookmarking?"

A very good question! That's a key benefit of the Kindle or Kindle software. You can easily highlight a passage, write a short note about something in the text, and bookmark one or more pages. In fact, the Kindle exports a text file "clippings" which has all the highlighted portions and notes, which is great for research, reviews, and message prep.

LDD said...

Larry, hope you don't mind, but I used your picture in one of my blog posts. Credit given.



Larry Baxter said...

No problem LDD, thanks for asking. BTW, looking at your article, I'm pretty sure I read that the AppleID used to backup/sync with the iCloud has nothing to do with the iTunes account. So most people are creating a second iTunes account purely for iCloud purposes, one per device, while the iTunes account for each device is the main one they've been using to which content is tied. Still, what you're suggesting has merit :)