The Amazon Kindle 3 is the latest generation of the top selling eBook Reader on the planet
The Kindle 3 is the newest generation of a brand that was introduced into an already vibrant market.
Back in 2007 the Amazon Kindle was simply a new kid on the block, dominated by a list of successful small players. It wasn’t the only reader backed by a huge company (Sony already had a reader out), but it promised to transform the eBook reading experience by offering a large collection of titles.
Plus the device can access the online Kindle Store without having to be physically connected to a computer, and users have the option to see previews before actually buying a book.
The device and its online library of eBooks eventually gained traction and was even endorsed by Oprah on her TV show. Oprah was a wide reader herself, and declaring the Kindle her new “favorite thing” increased awareness of the brand.
Today Amazon has declared Kindle 3 as a best seller on the site. It has even revealed that for the first time sales of eBooks have overtaken physical books.
Though official numbers have yet to be released, the impact of the eBook reader on Amazon and with book reading public is hard to argue. This anecdote comes full circle since Amazon was envisioned to be a online bookstore. Now it sells eBooks and the most popular reader in the market.
Physical Design and Hardware
In terms of looks, the eReader is not a huge departure from its predecessor. The most visible change is the graphite color, making the build quality more premium than it really is. Dimensions have slightly changed, making it 20 percent smaller than Kindle 2. The back plating is also rubberized, making the smallest Kindle even easier to hold with one hand. Page turning buttons on the sides have also been reduced, but their new position may slightly cause unnecessary page turns if users aren’t careful.
The joystick has been replaced by a directional pad placed together with the keyboard. A closer look at the QWERTY keys will reveal that the first row of numbers has been removed. Accessing them requires pressing the symbols button. This is an additional step especially when trying to jump to a specific page or entering passwords. Speakers are found at the back of the device; and bottom section sports the headphone jack, mini-USB port, volume rockers, and power button. The size reduction has also made it lighter at 8.7 ounces (247g), that’s about how much a paperback weighs.
A major change with the Kindle 3 is the use of the E Ink® Pearl display technology. E ink® was already phenomenal because of its low power consumption and excellent visibility. The Pearl display introduces an even higher contrast for the device, allowing richer text and better images, and a better page turning experience. It still is far away from LCD refresh rates, and waiting for the next page to appear is still preceded with the common screen jitter. That being said, bring a Kindle 3 and any tablet at the beach and you’ll realize the E ink® display is king of the outdoors.
The Kindle 3 is also available in two versions, a Wi-Fi only and a 3G + Wi-Fi model. Though it costs more, the Wi-Fi + 3G model has the advantage since the 3G service is offered free of charge. Whispernet is still available for all users in order to view files that are not supported by the Kindle.
First-time owners will find it easy to jump in and enjoy eBook reading with the Kindle 3. Navigating through the home screen is not a headache, despite not having a graphical presentation. Options include jumping to a specific page, adding a bookmark or note, and highlighting certain passages. PDF is now supported as well as some Project Gutenberg formats. Text size can be adjusted as well as the orientation. Like previous versions, the device remembers the page you currently are so juggling multiple books is very easy. The only thing the Kindle 3 has yet to shake off is the awkward page turning, but this is a condition shared by all E ink® displays.
The eBook Store on the Kindle 3 does not have any upgrades. It is optimized for the screen and is fairly navigable, though a search option is available as well. Thumbnails of books get displayed whenever possible, though it is not much help considering the display. As mentioned at the onset, users can preview a book or read customer reviews before buying a title.
A welcome addition, however, experimental is the web browser, which is based on the powerful WebKit open source web browser engine already found on other mobile devices. It faithfully renders webpages as far as the software and display can take. It’s definitely not perfect but will be good enough for checking e-mail and light browsing.
The text-to-speech feature works just like audio books, though do not expect phrases sounding just like a human being. A useful feature is the mp3 player; one can listen to certain tunes while reading an eBook. The internal memory is certainly not meant for a extensive playlist, unless one wants to jeopardize the number of books the reader can store.
Even with the higher-quality screen, the Kindle manages to clock in an unbelievable battery life compared to other gadgets. With connectivity options turned off, the Kindle can last up to a month before it needs to be recharged.
The Kindle 3 does not have the features some eBook readers and tablets have, but it clearly does not need them. If you want a very good reader that’s simple and easy to use, the Amazon Kindle 3 is clearly the device for you.